Opinion
Education Opinion

Devices, Devices, Devices

By LeaderTalk Contributor — December 04, 2011 3 min read

By Ryan Bretag | @ryanbretag

Discussions and debates continue about what technology device is best for students in a one to one computing environment.

iPads. Chromebooks. Netbooks. Windows-Based Laptops. Macbooks.

Recently, this discussion took off on Twitter and great minds weighed-in. While I always grow from these streams of thought, I’m also reminded why discussion of devices are challenging when it is only about the device.

Like always... learning and teaching environment

It needs to focus first in the area of learning, teaching, and environment from your local view. Don’t get caught up in the discussions about the device taking place in education circles on Twitter, Google+, Facebook, etc.

You have your Apple Fans that cannot see outside the apple. You have your Google Heads that cannot see past the chrome. You have your Linux Netbook Advocates, your Whatever is New Nuts, and your Microsoft Still Rules Tech Bubble Crew.

And to be honest, each are equip with great points and great arguments for their chosen world. But, there is a time and place for listening to their deeply rooted beliefs. This time comes after you have a clear (I mean CLEAR) understanding of what you are trying to do in your environment now and in the future. It comes after you have a clear understanding of the type of learning and teaching you want happening in that environment.

If not, you’ll get caught up in specs, costs, and opinions that will have you going back and forth depending on who is speaking. Cost vs capabilities only makes sense with a strong foundation of the vision for the learning and teaching environment.

Culture and Community play a role...

Along with cost vs capabilities, there is also the notion of culture and community. These two cannot be discarded in the discussion or there is a greater likely hood of failure.

It is easy to paint with a negative brush those that say “we are going with iPads” or “we are going with Netbooks”. Perhaps it is even easier today to scoff at those that go with a standard laptop (how old school!).

Those that do are not looking at it from your culture, community, or learning and teaching environment. More times than not, they are looking at it from a device choice.


  • What is your culture?
  • What is the past experience with technology?
  • What are the community expectations and needs?
  • What do students typically use for technology at home?
  • What is the home technology like?
  • What are the expectations students bring to technology?
  • What do they think of the technology and how it will meet their learning needs, social/emotional needs, and physical needs?
  • What do teachers expect?
  • And many more

Maybe these seem like meaningless questions, but the answers are part of a larger equation than a talk about device specs.

Which Device?

Linux Netbooks. Chromebooks. iPads. Macbooks. Android Tablets.

They are all my choice and offer much!

But the question isn’t about a device. It is about a device that best meets the needs of the desired learning and teaching state in your environment.

Thus, no one outside of your district can really answer the question for you. They can provide insights. They can give you lessons learned. They can tell you their story.

And, these are invaluable discussions and knowledge sharing. However, each of these stories should be juxtaposed against your desired learning environment.

Because the answer for your environment does NOT come from replicating another school/district model or a vendor model, it comes from the vision of your learning and teaching environment as well as the culture and community in which that environment exists.

The opinions expressed in LeaderTalk are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.