Friday, May 23, 2014

Touchscreen or Not? Chromebooks

My school is on the brink of offering computers to every child for the first time, ever. I know we're behind the curve on this. Lots of schools have been doing this for a long time. However, my school is on the conservative side, the traditional side and the budget-conscious side. We began with Chromebooks this Fall, and a set of iPads for the littlest nuggets. The Chromebooks were a wild success, I'm happy to say. The iPads....meh. The first graders used them in ways that I'm proud to talk about. The Kindergarteners and's just reinforcement of key skills. I know that has its place but I want more. I don't really see that iPads are a better way than simple flashcards for reinforcement. Just more expensive, engaging and entertaining, which reinforces that education should be entertaining. Let me just do a little dance for you while I make you learn your ABCs, too early for you to actually learn them, I might add. But, I digress.

The reason for this post is to ruminate on the decision before us for next year: Touchscreen Chromebooks or Not? We had Samsung Chromebooks this year and they've been fine. Not great, about 40% breakage of screens and such, but they did the job okay. Next year, we want more for our money. We're looking at HP 11s and 14s, as well as the new Lenovo Touchscreen Chromebook, the N20P. The Lenovo is about $150 more than the basic HP and that's a tough sell for our school, for our parents. However, our kids are going to have these devices for at least three years. My argument is that we should buy as much technology as we can because we can't ask them to go buy something newer in two years, when touch will inevitably be the standard. That begs the question: Is touchscreen really going to be the standard for Chromebooks? Obviously phones have gone that way and tablets were made that way. Are laptops really going that way. There's no way to predict the future, but if you're a "betting man" then you have to assume that water flows downhill. So, I guess as I write this, it's apparent that I really
want to get the Chromebooks with the touch feature. Now, I just have to figure out if I want the touch feature because the market wants me to want something we don't REALLY need? That's one of the most frustrating, yet exciting parts of my job: Guessing which way the wind is going to blow. Just call me the Weather Woman. I'm predicting Touchscreen.

1 comment:

Theo said...

Hello Alecia,
Theo here

You all have probably made a decision by now - 5 July - but here are a few random thoughts.

I agree with your basic conclusion about iPads - although I like the tablet experience, but not as a laptop replacement. There are times when the tablet makes perfect sense.

I have a sense that underlying your question is the uncertainty of operating systems. If the school is committed to Microsoft and to 7, then I'm not sure that touchscreens add much to the teaching/learning experience, especially if tablets are available.

So, if I were making a suggestion, it would be to stick with the non-touch Chromebooks and pick a tablet that fits your teaching/learning needs when the tablet experience makes sense.

Sometime in the future schools will have to make a basic decision about Windows 8. Perhaps it will evolve into something that makes sense, but right now I'm skeptical.