Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Handhelds Education Windows Apple

School Regrets Swapping Laptops For iPads 504

Posted by Soulskill
from the look-before-you-leap dept.
Barence writes "A school swapped all its staff laptops for iPads — and now wants to switch them back. 'Most staff are IT illiterate and jumped at the chance of exchanging their laptop for an iPad,' a teacher from the school told PC Pro. Now, however: 'the staff room is full of regret.' Difficulties editing old Word and PowerPoint documents, transferring work to and from the device without USB sticks, and problems with projecting the iPad's display to the classroom — bizarrely, using an Apple TV — have led to staff once again reaching for their Windows laptops."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

School Regrets Swapping Laptops For iPads

Comments Filter:
  • by thammoud (193905) on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @05:24PM (#41305665)

    I love my iPad for reading and viewing stuff. Editing? Not so much. I dread the moment where I have to hover over, click on the right place and edit. Useless.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @05:24PM (#41305669)

    An ipad is a toy. A laptop is a tool. Idiots.

  • by bob zee (701656) on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @05:26PM (#41305683)

    you sure don't grab a toy. you grab the tool that works.
    sometimes you have to pay twice to learn this.

  • by AaronLS (1804210) on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @05:28PM (#41305709)

    This speaks to the fact that every time I hear someone wanting an iPad at the workplace, it is accompanied by a big grin. They want a toy. They are not even thinking through how they would accomplish their day to day work with an iPad instead of a desktop/laptop.

  • by Dracos (107777) on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @05:29PM (#41305719)

    ... to every organization with staff: tablets are for consumption, not production. If your staff will have the regular need to create or edit anything more complex than an email, it will be a chore on a tablet, if not impossible, regardless of whether the tablet can load files from a thumbdrive or over a network.

    This story supports my position that tablets are stupid except for a very few vertical business markets, and will go away faster than netbooks once people can see past the hype.

  • difficulties (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Sez Zero (586611) on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @05:30PM (#41305725) Journal

    Difficulties editing old Word and PowerPoint documents...

    Their problem is bigger than the iPad in the classroom.

  • by Bogtha (906264) on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @05:31PM (#41305741)

    Difficulties editing old Word and PowerPoint documents, transferring work to and from the device without USB sticks, and problems with projecting the iPad's display to the classroom â" bizarrely, using an Apple TV â" have led to staff once again reaching for their Windows laptops.

    The general idea - that you get computer-illiterate staff away from general-purpose computers and onto more appliance-like systems is a good one. More flexibility in the end-users' hands means more difficulties supporting them and more spaghetti work practices.

    The problem though, is that it sounds like they thought they could just dump the product on them and their problems would be solved. These people will have had deeply-ingrained workflows that frequently include all manner of hacks and workarounds that have glommed together over the years. If you're going to move them away from that, you need to move their workflows and content too, otherwise they are stuck trying to do the old thing with products that aren't designed for it.

    I'm not sure what's so bizarre about using an AppleTV in that way though - it's designed for that purpose and it works great in that kind of situation.

  • by Desler (1608317) on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @05:33PM (#41305773)

    And yet Adobe and Autodesk make software for production on tablets. The users of GarageBand would also probably disagree with you as well.

  • by 0101000001001010 (466440) on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @05:38PM (#41305831)

    iPads in the classroom can be a great tool. But here's the thing. You have to plan for it before adoption.

    Projection: AirPlay, HDMI, or VGA?
    Documents: KeyNote, Quicktime, PDF; or maybe go to something less prepared and more on the fly. It can be neat to have a blackboard in your hand that projects on the screen.
    Storage: Internal cloud, iBooks/iTunes for education where you can create your own courses with files, Moodle.

    etc, etc. And only after you've worked these things out, you then beta-test by having a few tech savvy instructors run courses with them. Collect feedback. Discuss. Revise.

    For the love of gods, don't just buy a bunch of hardware, hand it to people, and tell them to go educate. How's that supposed to work?

  • by wiegeabo (2575169) on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @05:38PM (#41305839)

    So...The staff, a bunch of teachers, are IT illiterate. And, instead of TEACHING them how to actually use a computer, the answer is...to buy them iPads to try and avoid the issue.

    No teacher has a right to complain about students not wanting to learn if they're not willing to learn how to use the tools required by their job.

    And when are school boards and parents going to learn that throwing fancy new tech at a problem doesn't fix the problem...or even the symptoms of the problem? Changing tech doesn't fix things. Changing PROCESSES fixes things.

  • by Firehed (942385) on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @05:39PM (#41305849) Homepage

    No - tablets just aren't good for long-form writing (which happens to be very common at schools). I use mine for content creation all the time... just not stuff where I'd want a keyboard (anything more than two paragraphs).

  • by mblase (200735) on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @05:40PM (#41305851)

    Always test a deployment of new hardware within a single department, or smaller group, before implementing it throughout the building.

  • by ad454 (325846) on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @05:40PM (#41305861)

    My biggest gripes with my iPad3 as a work device are:

    One's fingers does not provide fine movement input like a mouse, touchpad, or fine tip pen/stylus (like the Samsung Note/Note2), which is needed for creating decent graphical design work. (It is far easier to move a mouse, touchpad, or pen/stylus by a single pixel, then my finger.)

    Proper unrestricted filesystem that lets you locally share documents easily and securely locally across different applications, without handing over your unencrypted work to untrustworthy 3rd party cloud services. Why could I upload my personal document to Apple's iCloud and download it again, just to open it up in a different app?

    And proper cut-and-paste of graphical (non-text) objects between applications. Why can't I click on an image, powerpoint/keynote diagram, etc, and copies these into the clipboard, and then paste into a word/pages document or e-mail message?

  • by graphius (907855) on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @05:40PM (#41305865) Homepage

    No, I would say it is a "not looking at the tool in question" issue. Ipads are not a replacement for laptops, especially for the uses the school seems to want.
    This seems like jumping on a bandwagon before really thinking about what the new gadgets will be used for.

    I would blame the IT department (without reading TFA) who did not explain the limitations of the ipads...

    Yeah, I know, so much for my karma....

  • by vonwilkenstein (817078) on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @05:42PM (#41305891)

    The users of GarageBand would also probably disagree with you as well.

    As a user of Garageband, I do not. I can not connect my firewire audio interface to an ipad.

  • by khasim (1285) <brandioch.conner@gmail.com> on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @05:44PM (#41305907)

    The iPad is GREAT for CONSUMING content.

    It suck for GENERATING content.

    So anyone with an iPad has more status than anyone who does their work on a laptop (which has more status than someone with a desktop).

    And they get to watch movies and stuff on it at home.

  • Re:USB sticks? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by DickBreath (207180) on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @05:46PM (#41305931) Homepage
    Interfacing with USB sticks would be a step toward compatibility with ubiquitous standards. Don't expect that from Apple.

    I can bluetooth transfer a file to any phone made ten years ago, or to any modern phone or computer. But not to an iPhone -- because that would again, require compatibility with common standards. My friend (an Apple fanboy) says, but there is the neato file transfer app for the iPhone . . . ., and I say, but you miss my point.
  • by mikestew (1483105) on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @05:50PM (#41305985) Homepage

    It wasn't modded down, he has crappy karma and starts at -1.

  • by Spad (470073) <slashdotNO@SPAMspad.co.uk> on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @05:50PM (#41305987) Homepage

    Having been in this situation twice in the last couple of years, I would bet the IT department did explain the limitations of the iPads and were overruled by the teachers who wanted shiny toys they could show off to their friends.

  • by Shadow99_1 (86250) <{theshadow99} {at} {gmail.com}> on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @05:52PM (#41306013)

    Don't lump all tablets into that category. My handy Transformer does a solid job of editing documents, more so with the keyboard dock. It's far from the norm for tablets, but MS seems to want to change that with their efforts in the field with Windows 8 (as much as I don't find it appealing on desktops and I don't have any plans to buy a new tablet).

  • Re:USB sticks? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by vlm (69642) on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @05:52PM (#41306021)

    What secret iPad models are they using that interface with USB sticks?

    They probably mean the existing workflow "demands" USB sticks because last time the curriculum was reviewed, 10 years ago, they were all the rage. And there's no really good way to use a flash stick with a gen 1 ipad like mine. Dropbox works great, however.

    I use dropbox and google drive and haven't used a USB other than as a bootable device in ... donno how many years, maybe 5 to 10 now, but my kids elementary school shopping list for 4th grade and up demands they buy "flash stick, 1 GB" which probably was pretty ambitious/expensive 10 years ago but I don't think you can buy ones that small anymore.

    I would imagine once cloud storage is obsolete, the school will hire a very high priced consultant who happens to be related to a school board member and they'll review the curriculum and demand the kids use cloud storage for the next ten years.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @05:58PM (#41306091)

    Most of the videos uploaded to youtube now come from phones or tablets, for example.

    [[citation needed]]. Specifically, the "or tablets" part. Yes, we know phones are a major contributor, but the piece under debate here is whether or not tablets are doing the same thing.

    I know for a fact that when newsworthy events happen, they're probably going to happen at a speed where I want a quick handheld device I can whip out at a moment's notice, like a phone. Not a clumsy, oversized device like a tablet.

  • by Anubis IV (1279820) on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @06:04PM (#41306129)

    An ipad is a toy. A laptop is a tool. Idiots.

    And as someone at a software consulting company that expanded from offering specialized, one-off Win/Mac applications for multinational engineering firms to also offering specialized iOS apps for those same firms and for many of those same purposes, I cordially disagree with your assertion that the iPad is not a tool. In fact, I'd say that you're very wrong. That said, it is not as general purpose of a tool as a laptop, nor should it be shoehorned into places where it has no business being.

    At home, I'm a big fan of Apple products, and I love using my iPad for reading, e-mail, web browsing, and some light gaming, but when people ask me what to get in regards to any piece of technology, my first question is always, "What will you use it for?" It sounds like the person with the purchasing power in this story didn't start with that vital question, instead getting caught up in the hype. The result is a lot of well-deserved backlash from the end users. In plenty of other situations, however, the iPad can indeed be the correct answer for what tool best fits the situation.

    The key takeaway should be that you should always use the right tool for the job. For what the teachers were doing here, the iPad sounds like it was not the right tool at all. That's not always true, but it oftentimes is, since the iPad has a specific set of limitations and advantages that make it a poor fit for many existing (particularly text entry) workflows, but make it a great fit for others.

  • by JustAnotherIdiot (1980292) on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @06:09PM (#41306189)
    Spoken like someone who's never tried to write a research paper on a tablet/smartphone.
    My wrists cringe at the very thought of having to do such.
  • by BasilBrush (643681) on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @06:16PM (#41306271)

    ... to every organization with staff: tablets are for consumption, not production.

    No, that's not where the cut-off is.

    Tablets are not good at text entry and editing. They're great for lots of other things, both consumption and production. Better than a laptop for a lot of them. For example sketching, filling out forms that are mostly checkboxes or multiple choice, grabbing a photograph to go with data, creating music.

  • by wonkey_monkey (2592601) on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @06:26PM (#41306353) Homepage

    My handy Transformer does a solid job of editing documents, more so with the keyboard dock.

    Isn't there a word [wikipedia.org] for tablets with keyboard docks? ;)

  • by immaterial (1520413) on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @06:38PM (#41306491)
    I have one friend who is a 5th grade teacher and has been using his iPad in class for two years now, and another friend who has been a dedicated K-8 grade iPad technology manager (ie. he stands somewhere between the regular IT staff and the teachers; managing tech support for the tablets, researching and testing educational apps, coming up with iPad-based lesson plans, and teaching students and - most importantly - teachers how to integrate use of the tablets into lessons and workflows). I'm basing my opinions here on their experiences.

    There is no question what an awesome tool the iPad can be for education. The ability to instantly interact with information in such a visceral and responsive way can be very powerful for the students. Touch, physical interaction, and instant feedback are fundamental to kids (and everyone else, but particularly to kids since they haven't mastered abstract thought). Live charts/graphs and other graphical representations can help kids better grasp what the numbers they're looking at are actually doing; the ability to explore and interact with a science "textbook" (not a useful word anymore) so the student can follow where her curiosity leads her is amazing. Etc. Etc.

    But as you say, this is mostly reading and viewing; very little heavy editing. Tablets (especially iPads) are not particularly well designed for heavy-duty text editing (basic note taking or numerical input is fine though). Buying a bunch of iPads and attempting to use them as the only tool for the job is just as stupid as buying an awesome chef's knife and then tossing out all your spoons.

    Based on my friends' experiences, the biggest roadblock to proper iPad usage is nobody is around to explain things or set things up. Teachers have a million other things to do in class, and often a school administrator decides "this iPad thing looks neat" and dumps the technology on them with no training whatsoever and zero support from IT, and suddenly the teacher has one more thing to try to figure out. Teachers that are already tech savvy (like my first friend) can do great things with them, but most are not. It takes a properly organized program (like my second friend is involved in) to get it working at a school- or district-wide level.

    As to the nonsensical complaint about the AppleTV: huh? The article complains they could have done it "much cheaper" for ~$30 rather than the $99 cost of an AppleTV, but that small savings requires teachers to be tethered to a cord at the front of the classroom. The ability for the teacher to walk around the classroom and interact with students while streaming information and interactive results wirelessly to the class's screen is a HUGE advantage that is more than worth $69. The issues mentioned in the article are due to inadequate IT support and training.
  • by Brannon (221550) on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @06:41PM (#41306523)

    A desktop is a toy, a workstation is a tool.
    A workstation is a toy, a server is a tool.
    A server is a toy, a mainframe is a tool.
    A mainframe is a toy, a cluster is a tool.
    A cluster is a toy, a supercomputer is a tool.

    Idiots.

  • by justforgetme (1814588) on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @06:46PM (#41306555) Homepage

    Most of the videos uploaded to youtube now come from phones or tablets

    Phones yes, tablets not so much.
    Also, that is most as in number of submissions. The most stuff as in the stuff you watch by the millions and accounts for the 90% of video views is still shot on DSLRs and Pro Cinematography gear.

    Also, nobody does real work on smartphones and tablets atm.

  • by nedlohs (1335013) on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @06:48PM (#41306563)

    The topic is content creation for a classroom not "in general". See the subject of your comment? Creating videos isn't what that is usually about.

    And sure there might be people using voice recognition and bluetooth keyboard with tablets, but apparently a whole set of users (the article is about them) seem to be having trouble with it.

  • by PopeRatzo (965947) on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @06:50PM (#41306581) Homepage Journal

    There are music creation apps people are using to write songs

    I've tried them all. They suck really bad.

    Companies that make pro gear for musicians bought into the idea the musicians are going to be using iPads and iPhones on stage and in the past few years came out with a ton of interfaces, apps, mixing consoles with iPad docks, etc. Even Apogee, a stalwart in the high-end AD/DA conversion market, came out with a large diaphragm condenser mic that plugs into an iPhone. It's a piece of shit and the first product produced by Apogee that is a ripoff (I'm a big fan of Apogee and have used their interfaces for years).

    They are all being sold at close-out prices, according to my most recent Musicians' Friend catalog.

    If you want to say that the iPhone-shot videos on YouTube represent some renaissance in art produced on computers, I think I can present a convincing counter-argument.

    Finally, let's see moving forward what the walled garden approach does for art created on Apple products. I'm not optimistic. It's a platform designed for consumption.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @06:53PM (#41306603)

    Jesus, how desperate are you? Yeah, lots of people upload short, shitty videos to youtube from their phones. If you want to call that "content creation", and lump all phones in with ipads, fine.

    Meanwhile, content creation is not moving to mobile in earnest. Very, very few people choose to write anything with them. All other kinds of creation that you can find are done largely as gimmicks. That might change some day, but it hasn't yet.

    We have some idea of how these things get used. You're not going to just shout us into submission on the subject.

  • by AK Marc (707885) on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @06:55PM (#41306625)
    He got modded down because he whipped out an e-peen to brag about, and didn't sound believable. I don't create content outside my house. Most here probably don't either. So to indicate that because the iPad goes with him, it gets the content created seems strange. Fabricated, even. I create content on one of two laptops. A personal one and an work one. Depending on where I am and where I plan on going, I usually have one or the other (or both) on me. A tablet wouldn't help at all because I don't create on the bus or at the park. I create at my desk at work or my desk at home (or the couch or elsewhere around the house). The tablet gets use for when I'm around the house mainly. It's easier to pack around, but I don't because there's nothing to do with it. I don't stop on random benches with the wish to create for 20 minutes, so it'd stay in my bag all the time anyway.

    From the discussions I've seen, that's more in line with the actual use of the devices. They are handy if you go to lots of meetings and wish you had a laptop with you, but don't because the laptop is too unwieldy. But that's not what he was talking about. He was talking about his preference on creating contend on a tablet, rather than laptop. That's not what most people do, so itwill get dismissed as unusual.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @07:03PM (#41306721)

    Lack of setup and training seems to be the big issue here. People seem to think they were getting "cool touch-based laptops," they were getting a Tablet. The IT department didn't think about transferring files and the staff seems to have only used sneaker-net to get files from one device to another (dropbox? box.com? district local network storage?).

    It was a poorly implemented mess.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @07:31PM (#41306961)

    And my iPad does a wonderful job of editing .doc documents and .ppt power points in Pages and Keynote. I use a Bluetooth keyboard for anything more than minor edits. AirPlay to a AppleTV connected via HDMI is great for wireless presentations. Dropbox is great for file transfer. The teachers don't need to use USB memory sticks from their home computers on the school network anyways; one less attack vector to worry about. The mistake here wasn't moving to iPad it was getting the teachers tablets without the software or infrastructure to make them work. They didn't have to jailbreak them, but they did have to go a step beyond buying hardware for a new platform and expecting it to work without any transition. It's no different than moving from Windows to a Linux box and then bitching that your antique printers aren't supported, and that you can't run MS proprietary software on it. One doesn't buy a DVD player and complain their VHS tapes won't play on it.

  • by immaterial (1520413) on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @08:21PM (#41307387)
    So your recommendation is to save 30 bucks by dragging a 30-foot cable around through a sea of desks and children's feet all day every day? You're kidding, right?

    If a school can get the same use out of a cheaper Android tablet as they can out of an iPad, more power to them. The sad fact is that a huge majority of the tablet-based educational software out there right now is iPad-only, and that currently tips the scales in Apple's favor.
  • by Savage-Rabbit (308260) on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @09:15PM (#41307705)

    Spoken like someone who's never tried to write a research paper on a tablet/smartphone.

    Ahh, here we go! The strawman comes out to play, because you can't actually contradict the fact that content is being created on a wide scale on mobile devices.

    S/He didn't say "writing research papers". The topic was CONTENT CREATION in general. Your reply was to pick one specific thing out of all the content creation activities, and latch onto that. And in fact, people are writing papers using voice recognition software as well as using blutooth keyboards, so your point is not even valid.

    Time to give it up, and admit that content creation is increasing moving to mobile.

    For what these people are trying to do, edit Word and Excel documents created in the halcyon days of Windows 98, the iPad sucks and most of the Android office suites that I have tried suck even worse than Pages and Numbers do on the iPad. Come to think of it old Word and Excel documents can be a minor nightmare even on non-MS office suites running on full fledged Linux/OS X. Another problem is that the Office suites on iPad/Android are kind of limited. I never create hugely complex documents in Word/Excel and logging into Windows and converting my entire collection of digital antique to the latest MS Office format is a no brainer but apparently these people are digital luddites. What annoys me way more than non-MS office software choking on 15 year old Word files is the inability of the iPad to export documents to USB sticks. Android tablets at least have card slots even if most laptop users don't carry card readers around. The ability to save directly to iCloud storage in OS X and iOS helps but I'd still like to be able to write to USB sticks which have become by far the most ubiquitous form of easily portable storage.

  • by Shadow99_1 (86250) <{theshadow99} {at} {gmail.com}> on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @10:40PM (#41308281)

    Or it's a tablet with a detachable keyboard dock (that includes an extra battery and a less than useful trackpad)... I'd agree it was a 'laptop' if it ran a laptop grade of hardware and could run 'laptop' type OSes and apps... Expectations for 'laptop' are very different then for 'tablet', though I do use my Transformer Prime like a mini-laptop most of the time. I'm actually thankful it's not a real 'laptop' as well, I had the chance to use a atom powered laptop running windows xp the other day that was terribly slow and the battery still died in 2 hours... Not an experience I want to repeat.

  • iOS vs Droid (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 12, 2012 @08:44AM (#41311365)

    It never fails to amaze. We spent years talking our staff into getting more mobile, we tested and tested. The tech tech decided to go fully mobile with droid, keeping towers/laptops for things like dvd burning and such to support classrooms/labs and servers when needed (not often). All other tasks were done with VPN/RDP/SAMBA and network resources. We had no problems servicing events, locations, or users from anywhere in the US [we didn't even have to take advantage of the Micro-SD cards and converters to USB devices we had prepared to use..
    The staff department enjoyed our success and enhanced response time so much they decided to head down the path of complete mobile as well and began buying iPads. Complete and total failure occurred. No flash, no java, no powerpoint or word support that was reliable. RDP was costly at best, unreliable at worst. As was VPN services. Today, they have scrapped the idea of going mobile to even the point of only having laptops that can be 'checked out' not laptops to keep mobile.

    Best you ask, yes the staff did ask us how we performed, what we used, and our results. They asked us for our opinion of iOS for the same functionality, since we tested iPad and droid tablets head to head we informed them of our successes and failures and how we landed at the droid decision. They ignored our results, advice, and expertise... they even purchased iPad 2 devices for their grads that year ... all to the end result of failure and technology budget cut backs. Sad.
    If one does not do research and testing, one can expect huge finical loss upon failure.

Facts are stubborn, but statistics are more pliable.

Working...