Become a fan of Slashdot on Facebook


Forgot your password?
Handhelds Education Windows Apple

School Regrets Swapping Laptops For iPads 504

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This discussion has been archived.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:
  • Duh! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by onyxruby ( 118189 ) <`ten.tsacmoc' `ta' `yburxyno'> on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @05:46PM (#41305929)

    Ipad's are for /consuming/ content, not making content. It's the one brilliant thing Microsoft got dead on right with the Surface tablet that is coming out.

    The ipad is ultimately a toy, I work at a place that a /very/ large quantity of the things. I can assure you that they only productive thing they ever do is take notes during meetings.

    I'll be curious to see if this carries over for the Surface when it comes out with it's native keyboard and USB support.

  • Not computers needed (Score:4, Interesting)

    by slapout ( 93640 ) on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @05:48PM (#41305953)

    Just teach the kids reading, writing and arithmetic. You don't need laptops for iPads for that. Use a good ole chalkboard. Then, once the children have mastered these basics, you can move them to computers.

  • Re:rich schools? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Jeng ( 926980 ) on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @05:53PM (#41306029)

    Pay for the unnecessary but expensive things first, then go crying that you need money for necessities. This is a common practice in many organizations. Supposedly the first thing that would go up at a new base is the officers club since if it was the last money wouldn't be allocated to it.

  • by jockm ( 233372 ) on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @05:54PM (#41306039) Homepage

    Because for about a year now I haven't taken my laptop out of the house, and mostly using it for programming, and photo editing. I have spent all this time writing fiction, poetry, outlines, technical documentation, etc; built websites, created diagrams (I prefer using OmniGraffle on the iPad to the desktop version); doing some light experimenting in Lua; making graphics and other things... all because no one told me it sucked at creating content.

    But now that you told me, it is all ruined. I will have to lug around the laptop, aggravate the bone spurs in my neck and shoulders, have to put up with shorter battery life, and all that.

    Gee thanks

  • Re:Android (Score:4, Interesting)

    by idontgno ( 624372 ) on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @05:56PM (#41306073) Journal

    Technically, this already exists. iPad apparently supports Bluetooth keyboards, so you'll find many iPad cases with an integrated BT keyboard.

    Here's an example at ThinkGeek [].

    This is one place where Apple's iron-fisted dominance of design comes in handy. The iPad is a nice consistent formfactor (only a couple of sizes to consider), so it's easy for a brisk aftermarket of compatible accessories, as long as those accessories can either license necessary compatibility technology (charge/audio/data port) or the compatibility is itself fairly open (Bluetooth); I haven't seen a one-size-fits-all equivalent for Android tablets simply because there's so much variability in size and shape.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @06:19PM (#41306299)

    You do realize you just further emphasized his point, right? An iPad is good for consuming content, not creating content... what you mention here is the consumption of content in the form of an ebook. Try typing a document on your iPad.

  • by locopuyo ( 1433631 ) on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @06:20PM (#41306311) Homepage
    Unless you want eye cancer iPads are terrible for reading books. An eReader with an e-Ink display is a million times better. And the "retina display" isn't all that special either. The resolution is good but that is it. The color gamut and contrast are mediocre at best.
    Multi-touch applications for painting and arranging photos? You really are going to drag individual photos with your fingers to arrange them or navigate through some other gimmicky interface to arrange your photos? It doesn't feel more natural it feels like inefficient grunt work.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @06:26PM (#41306349)

    Because for about a year now I haven't taken my laptop out of the house, and mostly using it for programming, and photo editing. I have spent all this time writing fiction, poetry, outlines, technical documentation, etc; built websites, created diagrams...

    Notice what happened? You got modded down (to 0 as I write this) for pointing out that you DO create content on tablets. The group-think here can't stand this point of view, so even if you give your own experiences, you'll be modded down. I've posted similar, and also been modded down.

    Modding here isn't about whether what you say is true, it's about whether you agree with the crowd. And the crowd is convinced that tablets aren't for creating content, so by god, nobody is going to be allowed to say otherwise, or they'll be shouted into a 0 or -1 oblivion. Because that would mean people had to re-evaluate their own misconceptions, and that contradicts the confirmation bias. It isn't just here actually: humans in general tend to avoid or dismiss things they don't "want" to believe.

  • by Tablizer ( 95088 ) on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @06:32PM (#41306431) Journal

    If they had an easy option to plug in a keyboard and a stand to hold the screen up, they would essentially *be* a laptop. I only see that kind of thing in the Android market.

  • by WebManWalking ( 1225366 ) on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @06:33PM (#41306443)
    Perhaps you're thinking of the iPad too much like a laptop and not enough as a new way of interacting with a machine.

    I've been using the dictation button on the new iPad and it works great. Much better than typing for bulk data input. Then when done, I go back and edit what it couldn't handle (usually not much). Admittedly not a good solution in a noisy classroom or teacher's lounge (background din of people talking), but otherwise, it's good.

    Dictation tips: Say "comma", "period", "left paren", "right paren", "quote", "unquote" and "new paragraph" aloud, and it'll do it.

    I wonder how much support Khan Academy will have for iPads (teachers monitoring kids running through lessons, like on 60 Minutes). That could be a pretty great use of a tablet. (Carry it with you as you walk from student to student to help them out.)
  • by AK Marc ( 707885 ) on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @06:47PM (#41306557)
    It's not a replacement, it's an augmentation. Check email anywhere. Have your calendar everywhere. Take e-notes in meetings, directly in the documents in question, rather than scribbling on paper and either editing them into the document later or discarding them after essentially memorizing the content.

    That they'll also be playing Angry Birds on the bus ride is the smile. But there are plenty that use iPads for work. I know one network administrator that swears by his ipad with Ethernet dongle.
  • by jockm ( 233372 ) on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @07:05PM (#41306731) Homepage

    Did I say that I forced myself? No. Are something a little harder on the iPad? Yes. Are other things easier and more efficient? Yes.

    It isn't some net loss that people then grudgingly accept. For some people, like myself, using a tablet instead of a laptop/desktop is a real benefit. It might not the case for you, but please don't paint everyone with the same brush.

    For me it is like when I moved to a thinkpad with a trackpoint. I couldn't use it in the same way as I used a mouse or a touchpad. It was frustrating and hard to use. Then I realized I could make a curving motion and get to the point I wanted. Once I did that I was about as efficient with the trackpoint.

    When I am writing on the iPad I just tap close to where I want to be, and I don't obsess about accuracy. Why? Because my hands move back to the keyboard and I quickly move to the right place. I am rarely more than a couple of characters off. I tend to select text with the keyboard more often as well.

    The Lua IDE Codea has a kind of touch mouse feature on their virtual keyboard that is a joy to use and I hope apple adopts in some way. Most of my graphics apps have some kind of alignment or gravity feature so I don't have to worry that using my finger might be less efficient.

    I use each UI in the best way I can, but I am not making some kind of sacrifice to use the iPad.

  • by jockm ( 233372 ) on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @07:18PM (#41306849) Homepage

    90% of the novel I wrote was on the bus and train coming to and coming back from work. I have a lovely park half a block down my street, and a number of coffeeshops within three hours of my house. I have a form of early onset arthritis which means I have to see the doctor regularly, and get a 3 hour IV every 6 weeks. My hospital and Dr's offices all have free wifi.

    Every single thing I said in my original post is 100% true. I am sorry you think I was lying, but I can't help that.

    I am also not saying I am typical, but I am not the only I know like this. My wife's best friend only takes her iPad with her on business trips (about 100 days out of the year) and uses it far more than I do. I know a few other people who are using the iPad the same way I am. We may be a minority, but we are real.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @07:25PM (#41306909)

    I have no kids, so this is based on conversations with coworkers whose kids' school has recently switched to an iPad-heavy curriculum.

    The lack of training and tech support basically means teachers struggle, and parents struggle, to install software and manage the device. My coworkers are engineers, and tech-savy enough to make this work, albeit with many hours spent working through apparent software issues (seems some of this for-education software is perhaps not quite at-par with your average app). But a great many parents aren't quite so savvy, and though the kids can probably figure it out quickly, the whole thing is an additional unplanned-for burden on parents. If it was guaranteed to result in better education, I suspect 99% would happily accept that new headache. But there's obviously no such guarantee...

    They also are bemoaning that it seems this switch is a cost-saving move (iPads are purchased by families, or leased from the school at an exorbitant rate), since the families buy the software, provide 90% of the IT support, and it allows the school to skip a year of buying new textbooks, workbooks, etc, etc.

    Whether the whole thing really involves a scheme to help the budget by transferring more expenses directly to the students' families, I cannot say. But it definitely seems poorly thought out, and a little too much like hopping on the "ooh shiny!" bandwagon. I guess we'll see...

  • by Wild_dog! ( 98536 ) on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @07:40PM (#41307057)

    Precisely said AC. There are lots of things that make an iPad very useful, but it needs to be setup to do it. Somehow I believe the infrastructure as far as appropriate software was lacking and perhaps even more imperative is proper training using a new paradigm.

  • by immaterial ( 1520413 ) on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @08:00PM (#41307215)
    That definitely sounds terrible, especially the twist of forcing families to buy the apps (that's one I've never heard of before).

    At the K-8 school my friend works at, the school purchased about one hundred iPads (enough that the average class can spend half a day with them in class every other day). He was hired to manage and maintain them (so it isn't an extra burden on the preexisting IT department, or the teachers and parents) and does so using Apple's enterprise tools which allow him to push updates and new software, volume license software (cheaper than everyone buying individually), image/restore, manage age restrictions, etc. fairly easily. He is also responsible for researching/purchasing new educational apps and training teachers and students how to use them. It's a great system, because the iPad becomes an asset to the teacher and students rather than a burden, and IT is happy to work it into the existing infrastructure because it isn't a huge new burden on them, either.

    My other friend (5th grade teacher) works at a much poorer school (one of the poorest in the state actually) and just has one iPad in his classroom that he purchased himself, filled with apps that he purchased himself. Until this year it was hooked up to his projector via physical cable (that he purchased himself) as the submitter's article suggested was the best way to go, but being tethered was a huge annoyance. I was going to buy him an AppleTV for this year, but the school IT department somehow manage to lose his connector cables over the summer and ended up offering to buy him one out of their budget. Needless to say, he's been thrilled being untethered from the projector. He's always been ecstatic about what a difference the iPad has made in his classroom, even though he only has one and he has to do the support for it himself.

    The iPad really is an awesome tool when used in the right way, but a replacement for a work laptop it sure isn't. What's sad is people are going to generalize from this and decide the whole thing is worthless overall rather than a specific tool for a specific job.
  • by the_humeister ( 922869 ) on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @10:05PM (#41307989)

    Almost nobody. However, Park Chan Wook (the guy who directed Old Boy) did shoot a film [] using several iPhone 4 devices.

  • ok so (Score:4, Interesting)

    by jon3k ( 691256 ) on Wednesday September 12, 2012 @10:23AM (#41312171)
    I agree, laptop is way better than an iPad for this use case. But a couple things bugged me. #1 using an AppleTV to send output to a TV is really obvious and nice, it uses a feature called AirPlay that mirrors the iPad or sends video via WiFi to the AppleTV. And #2, USB sticks to move files? Really, in 2012? Who still does this? I use filebrowser [] for local fileservers and Dropbox for everything else. Filebrowser is actually fantastic for quickly pulling up files.

    Again, I absolutely think they made a poor choice and should stick with laptops, but some of these "problems" are not iPad problems. They are competency problems.

Radioactive cats have 18 half-lives.