Why iPad over Android in the classroom?

Apple Android

As a Subject Leader, I have thought long and hard (with my colleagues, and particularly my fellow Subject Leader – of Media Studies – @KRE_ativity) about how we should move things forward in developing teaching and learning in our English and Media faculty. To bastardise a well worn American political phrase the first priority is clear: “It is the quality of the teachers, Dummy!”  Quite rightly, the question of technology to enhance pedagogy does come a couple of rungs down the ladder when it comes to importance. Every experienced teacher in almost every school will have suffered the trials of finding ICT room bookings like the proverbial needle in the haystack; traipsing across the school site in the rain; losing the late student who forgot it was an ICT lesson for the crucial first fifteen minutes of the lesson! The obstructions often outweighed the benefits. However, the potential to enhance teaching and learning with the freedoms provided by mobile devices becomes a different story; the capacity to excite, engage and personalise learning is undoubtedly present. With the flexibility and portability of tablet devices many of the former obstructions fell away – the enhancements were only enhanced! The question became ‘which technology could best enhance the pedagogy?’

In the world of  tablet technology the warring dividing lines very quickly became the choice between Apple and Android mobile devices.

The research began. The comparisons between apps and general capacity for varied uses were central (see my earlier blog posts), but also crucial was the cost. The question, ‘why pay for the premium Apple iPad product in a time of fiscal austerity in education?’ is obvious. Is the capacity so much better to justify paying extra, or is the iPad a triumph of advertising hype?

Firstly, in addressing the financial aspects, it is true to say that the iPads are at a premium; however, the iPad 2 has seen a significant price drop and its functionality is still cutting edge and brilliantly tailored for exploiting in the classroom as a collaborative tool. Still, they are significantly more costly than their cheaper Android rivals. When investigating the breadth and quality of applications, hardware and operating system maintenance, the dividing lines between Apple and Android were stormed by the better quality and range of the iPad. Crucially, no other Android device provides anything like the scope for enhancing teaching and learning like the iPads, especially when used in conjunction with Apple TV. 

Apple’s dominance of the tablet and mobile phone market means that it is the best placed develop educational applications (“Despite lower unit sales following the holiday season, the iPad scooped up 11.8 million of the 17.4 million units sold in Q1 2012 for a whopping 68 percent share.”[1]); whilst being better placed for reliable updates, consistent web browsing, better protection from viruses, and a better range of apps that can enhance teaching pedagogy than any cheaper Android device.[2] Some factors why Apple is better for such a deployment of multiple devices include the following:

-          The Apple OS is upgraded and installed much faster and more effectively than equivalent Android OS, therefore apps on iPads continue to get faster and better, particularly in areas like iTextbooks etc.

-          The back up, synchronising and cloud storage of iCloud is far superior to any Android equivalent, therefore student work is more secure

-          OS support is proven to be more consistent from Apple

-          Malware, viruses are considerably more common on Android devices and security on Android devices is significantly weaker. The gatekeeper control of Apple means the downloading of apps is more secure and their system provides excellent systematic protections for multiple devices

-          The range of Apple apps is currently significant larger and of better quality (a quality controlled by Apple)

-          Apple development and support is more consistent and systematic than Google’s Android model – this is crucial for our needs over the next five years.

Conclusions
The cost factor becomes subsumed by the quality factor. The old saying “pay cheap, pay twice” would likely apply to the cheapest tablets on the market anyway. The BlackBerry Playbook has crashed in price, but when RIM go bankrupt who will manage the operating system? There are lots of further logistical steps to master, training to complete, but the iPad can prove a real game changer. Because of its capacity to replace interactive whiteboards, visualizers etc. it becomes much more cost effective than it may first appear. By using the devices as group collaboration tools they become even more cost effective. The iPad device simply has to be the choice of the teacher and school looking to maximise the use of technology to enhance teaching and learning.

[1] J R Bookwalter, ‘Apple Owns Tablet market, while Android Stumbles’, TechRadar (May 2012)

[2] Fraser Spiers, ‘We need to talk about Android’, http://speirs.org/blog/2012/3/6/we-need-to-talk-about-android.html

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About huntingenglish

I am an Assistant Headteacher and English Subject Leader at Huntington Secondary School, York. I like to read, write and talk about teaching and learning. I blog regularly about my main interests: successful teaching strategies, coaching, teacher improvement, with some political arguments and miscellany along the way. I am currently writing a book for new English teachers, to be published next year.

2 responses to “Why iPad over Android in the classroom?”

  1. http://tinyurl.com/housmaria07265 says :

    Thank you for utilizing time to write “Why iPad over
    Android in the classroom? huntingenglish”. Many thanks once more
    ,Margherita

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