Android Devices in the Classroom
- Android devices have increasingly similar functionality to Apple devices
- When it comes to price Android devices can be much more budget conscious than other platforms.
- Android devices are somewhat protected from viruses but still run the risk of applications being run on them with infected malware.
- The Android still has some bugs and run the risk of applications sharing infected malware.
- On Android tablets, things are little more difficult to figure out so it will take hitting up the “Settings” feature a few times to really familiarize yourself with the features.
- Security is more of an issue on Android devices.
- Not all Android devices are created equal. Some manufacturers sell less than quality devices; less overall quality control on the Android brand.
- Upgrade path is not always clear or available.
BYOD (Bring Your Own Devices)
In a BYOD, Bring Your Own Device (family provided), program students bring their own mobile devices to school to use in the classroom. A BYOD program gives relief to schools that struggle with funding a technology program. Students and teachers both feel more comfortable being able to work on their own devices. While this type of program may seem simple to implement there are important factors to consider. I
- Students take ownership AND responsibility for their device and its use
- Concentrated technology funding for students who need it
- Increased accessibility to information
- Increased creativity – variability of the apps to do the same function
- Already familiar with device and apps
- Digital literacy
- Up-to-date technology
- Shorter implementation
- Technology as a status symbol
- Limited to browser-based content
- Teachers MUST have training in the use of BYOD in the classroom (guide on the side, not sage on the stage)
- No control over the device content or Internet content access
- Increased security risks
- Increased IT support- managing multiple platforms
- Bandwidth and crowded networks[i]
- Teachers MUST be familiar/flexible in multiple platforms and/or facilitate peer-to-peer support
Further information is readily available on the Internet. A complete guide in one document is the ebook, The Ten Commandments of BYOD, published by MaaS360 and available for download at http://www2.maas360.com/services/maas360-ten_commandments_of_byod_bring-your-own-device.php
While it has taken a while for the sales numbers to rise, Chromebooks are currently the fastest growing part of the PC industry. For schools looking for a low-cost device that can revolutionize your classroom, the Chromebook could fit the bill. But there are likely many situations where they will not be the first choice. While they are cheap, quite easy to manage, and are proving reliable, you do have to have a robust wireless infrastructure and willingness to live within their limitations (or new way of doing things) to make a deployment successful. They are true Cloud Computing devices, although offline functionality has increased..
- Low cost: From below $200 to around $400, Chromebooks are truly low cost solution to providing computing resources for a classroom.
- Light & thin: Chromebooks are available in many sizes, styles and increasing features like touch screens.
- Fast: Since all Chromebooks have internal flash based memory, start-up time is measured in seconds as opposed to windows-based laptops with spinning hard drives.
- Free Storage: Included with all Chromebooks is access to 100 GB of storage in the Google Drive. If your school is using Google Apps for Education, then you now have unlimited storage available.
- Free Software: Each Chromebook includes the Google suite of apps (Docs, Sheets, Presentations, Drawing etc.) Some of these also work in offline mode for when you do not have an Internet connection. Additional apps can be downloaded from the Chrome web store.
- Battery life: Flash based RAM and other power saving features mean that most Chromebooks can run for over 6 hours on a battery charge.
- Security: Built-in antivirus and malware protection ensure that Chromebooks are one of the most secure platforms, and the tight software control helps to ensure this..
- Full Sized Keyboards: Unlike many mobile devices, Chromebook do have full-size and very functional keyboards.
- Management: While it used to be that there was a monthly fee for the management console that brought the overall cost of ownership of a Chromebook closer to the traditional laptop level, now, there is only a $30 one-time fee for this feature. The management console allows you to track location and usage, assign the device to an individual in a group and push out restrictions and customizations based on the group, configure network access and pre-install, whitelist or blacklist applications,
- Updates: Chromebooks update themselves silently and automatically in the background meaning that keeping the devices current is not something to take up your time.
- HDMI Output: Most models have HDMI output ports allowing them to connect to a projector or large screen TV for displaying a YouTube video or displaying a presentation.
- Third Party Services: There is an increasing number of services like Lightspeed and Go Guardian that provide Internet filtering and other security and management features like remote control.
- Limited to compatible software: Chromebooks can only run the built-in applications, or others downloaded from the Chrome web store. No Windows or Mac software will run on this platform. While this may be adequate for many classrooms, others may have legacy systems or other requirements that will knock Chromebooks out of the running. While MS Office programs will not run, the files they produce can be read and written with the included Google apps.
- Printing: Chromebooks do not connect directly to a printer. Printing is accomplished through the Google Cloud service. Printers can be purchased with this feature built-in, which allows direct wireless printing, or a computer can set up as a print server.
- Not all include optical drive or USB ports: Lack of a DVD or CD player or burner may limit their usefulness in some situations, but most laptops are going that way now also. Also, the cloud-based storage model really makes USB thumb drives obsolete anyway?
- Limited Video or Photo editing: While Photoshop or comprehensive video editing programs are not available, there are web-based and Chrome Apps available to do what most classrooms will require.
- Management: While the Management Console does provide for comprehensive management of the Chromebooks in your environment, it is another system that you will have to learn and manage.
- Needs a Robust Wireless Environment: Every function of a Chromebook relies on having an Internet connection. Some features are getting better with offline modes, but still, if you do not have a robust and secure wireless infrastructure, you are best to stay away from Chromebooks for a while.
Although laptops are a proven platform, mobile devices are increasing their share of the educational market.
- Familiar platform, mature management tools
- Larger screen and keyboard
- Capable of running the standard suites and advance software
- The established standard for software
- Better platform for graphics or processor-intensive tasks
- Often available for low cost or free as businesses upgrade
- Automatically has wireless capability
- A broad range of connectability such as Wi-Fi, USB, DVD drives, Ethernet ports, etc.
- Easy to upgrade and service
- Easy to print
- Weight is still a challenge
- Battery life is minimal compared to tablets
- IT support is much more complex
- Laptops may be overkill for some classrooms
- Software and licensing may not be as flexible as mobile platforms
- Must build a network to be connected to other units
- Potential for costly damage if dropped or misused
- Increased desk space
Smartphones in the Classroom
There has not been much buzz about SmartPhones/iPod Touch being used in the classroom since about 2010 when the iPad was first released.
- Already in the pocket of many students, thus they are familiar with its functions
- Could be used under a document camera for demonstration purposes
- Good size for some things (clickers)
- Very mobile, as they are pocket-sized
- Data plan means they can be connected to the web continuously
The main use of the Smartphone/iPod Touch is for apps that could be used on the device.
- Size (not desirable for extensive reading or writing) although phones are tending to be larger
- Not great for typing (but evidently not bad for young thumbs texting)
- Security issues
- Interactive design presents some cheating/integrity issues.
- Cost of data plan may affect overall use
iPads in the classroom like any technology have positive aspects alongside a list of negatives. iPads were originally designed to be a personal device where purpose, form, and function successfully blend. In the classroom a myriad of circumstances and need such as safety and distractibility tempt educators to move away from making all the benefits available with restrictive results. However, a wealth of educational experience and research has been emerging demonstrating significant value of having iPads in the classroom and available to students. Below is a brief summary along with links to articles on this topic.
- The iPad is well known among educators and students to be intuitive and trouble free to use. Even technically challenged educators find iPads reliable and easy to use.
- The personal device aspect allows students to have their own personalized calendar, camera, easy access to personal email, and class networking as arranged by the teacher.
- iPads broaden the variety of engaging and meaningful learning experiences available to students due to the thousands of available apps.
- eBooks and digital content are available to reduce textbook cost and weight of books in the backpacks.
- There are thousands of proven educational apps available.
- iPads are a big hit with teachers for use in learning centers for lower grade classrooms.
- iPad management tools continue to improve which increases security and flexibility for classroom use.
- Batteries are powerful enough to last a day at school.
- iPads have high praise with both teachers and students for their instant on aspect and quick processors. There are no long delays to “booting” up the computer.
- AirPlay has made printing and sharing screen content fast and easy for both teachers and students.
- iPads can be an invaluable tool and learning aid for students with disabilities.
- With proper expertise the iPad can be restricted to only a school network.
- Not compatible with Adobe FLASH (interactive animation/or videos) which limits the use of many websites.
- Only one screen can be seen at a time which can be frustrating when trying to read a book and write a research paper at the same time etc.
- The finger-based interface can be frustrating to some students particularly in highlighting text.
- Initial purchase cost is higher than other devices. Generally, discounts are non-existent or minimal for volume purchases.
- The lack of a standard physical keyboard makes this a poor a choice for extensive writing and typing.
- No USB or DVD interface.