By Tyler Desharnais
As you know BHS uses iPads as our primary technology for learning, but we also have some Chromebooks for use in the library. BHS recently got the newest version of the Chromebook that may outshine the iPad in the learning environment. The first thing that struck me that was good about the new Chromebook was how it felt in my hands, unlike the first iteration it felt sturdy and similar to a standard laptop. The trackpad greatly improved and its larger and feels unlike a regular laptop trackpad. The old Chromebooks trackpad was small and inaccurate when moving and clicking. Battery life has improved along with the device becoming thinner and lighter. The OS of the Chromebook was updated slightly also.
So how does the new chromebook compare to the iPads we currently have? The iPad 2 boasts a 10 hour battery life while the Chromebook has roughly 6.5. This may sound like a Problem but in my experience even heavy use of my iPad throughout the school day only drains about 50% of the battery life so at 6.5 hours the Chromebook should survive the school day without a needing a recharge. As for storage the iPad comes with 16 gigabytes of storage but is supplemented with the many cloud based applications we use. The Chromebook also comes with a 16 gigabyte solid state drive(actual memory built into the device) but has up to 100 gigabyte storage with the google drive cloud, again this not only compares to the iPad but exceeds it.
The Chromebook has full access to all of Google’s services such as Drive, Gmail, calendar, sites, and many others, while the iPad has limited access to just a few of these features such as Gmail, Drive, and search. Since the Chromebook acts as a full computer when on the web browser it has flash and java which the iPad does not support. Another added bonus is a physical keyboard. The new Chromebook’s keyboard is reminiscent of apple’s design: flat and easy to type. I know that the lack of a physical keyboard on the iPad deterred many students and teachers from using it because it was more difficult to type on. With Chromebooks students can write papers, make presentations, and research with greater ease than with the iPad.
But as with the iPads there are some drawbacks such as less control over what students do on the devices. On the iPads we have lightspeed and the profiles that keeps students from violating school policy, Chromebooks do not have as much control over limiting content as the iPads do. As great as a learning tool the iPad is, I believe the Chromebook is better suited in a 1:1 learning environment for secondary and higher ed. students.