**Updated January 2018
When I first started blogging about implementing Apple products into the K-8 classroom, Apple iPad was the dominant device in the educational market outside of the standard computer. The iPad Mini 1 had just been unveiled and it was an “affordable” Apple product that opened the door for many schools that just could stomach the $499/device price tag Apple had been asking for the larger 9.7″ form factor. This was before the rise of chromebooks and Google’s massive infiltration of American classrooms. Now, almost 5 years later I have to say that their are pros and cons to having Apple products in schools.
Pros and Cons
The biggest pitfall to Apple products from the beginning has been and still is cost. The greatest advantage, a unified ecosystem of devices that has made things like sending your device screen to your projector fluid, easy and seamless. That is Apple. Fluid. Seamless. They are about experience. Therefore, I can only really recommend the iPad for a school if the school has experience with other Apple products or is using MacBooks or Apple TVs. I firmly believe it is not worth the investment in time or energy to learn how to manage the devices unless you are ready to dive into Apple completely.
Why Apple? Only Apple?
This is not to say you can’t have other devices at your school. To give you an example. I work at an Apple Device School. Teacher and students have access to MacBook Airs. Every teacher has an iPad. We have Apple TVs in our classrooms. Even with Apple so visible in our school, we have opted to transition many of our student devices over to Chromebooks. It isn’t that we didn’t like iPads and MacBooks. They are amazing machines. We just weren’t utilizing the devices to their full potential. If you are going to go Apple then I would recommend doing so for these reasons:
- You have excessive amounts of money that can be spent on devices and IT support for implementation.
- You need devices that are powerful. Devices capable of movie, photography, or audio editing.
- You need devices that have longevity. You are committed to keeping the device around for 6-8 years.
- You need an ecosystem of devices that can talk to each other. Computer, tablet, TV and various accessories.
My recommendation for most grade schools would be Apple Products (iPad, MacBook, Apple TV) for the teachers and something much cheaper school wide for students. If you need power devices for real energy heavy creativity, then I would suggest having a single classroom set of MacBooks or iMacs to fulfill that need.
Apple devices have changed size, developed and seen a rebirth of sorts in the popular media. While Apple computers have stayed right around $1000 for the cheapest configurations, the iPad has come down in price and now can be found with top notch specs for just under $300/device. Their newest 2017 iPad is a powerhouse tablet for the money and is an excellent tablet all the way around. Apple’s educational 10pk’s also help make getting class sets of 30 devices a little more manageable.
Recommended Devices and Device Combinations
I have used both the standard iPad and iPad Pro with Apple Pencil. I have to say, the Pro is an amazing tablet. If your considering Apple for students at the high school or even college level, the Apple Pencil with an iPad Pro (and SMART Keyboard…why not?) is an amazing combination! However, you are looking at a $800-$1000 iPad and accessories package. I use my Apple Pencil to draw diagrams and pass information to students in class. I draw using a note taking app and AirPlay the display (send the image from my tablet to a projector screen wireless). This allows the students to see what I am writing in real time, not that unlike the old overhead projectors but with mobility.
In truthfulness, Apple just isn’t holding its own in the educational market anymore. Many view the newest tablet and its price as a way to stay competitive. As an Apple Computer, Tablet, TV, Pencil…etc. user, I have to say I wouldn’t have it any other way. I make videos, edit photography and use my devices daily in the classroom to create and provide resources for my students.
I truly believe the future of educational technology comes with a blended environment of devices to meet the needs of the professionals and students that work in that environment. I think Apple devices can be transformative. I think putting them in the hands of creative educators can yield amazing results. I also think that putting a $1300 machine in the hands of a 10 year old that is just learning to use a computer beyond the web isn’t a cost effective solution. That is the time for a cheap device, like a chromebook.
If you would like to read more in depth articles of various implementations and configurations of Apple products please check out one of the following articles!
- Part 1 – Introduction to iPads in Education
- Part 2 – iPad Classroom Models
- Part 3A – iPads and Airplay
- Part 3B – Apple TV’s and their use in the Classroom
- Part 4 – Choosing and Purchasing iPads
- Part 5 – A Wifi Solution