Device selection K-12: How do you choose the right device? – ABOUT MAG 2020

In the past few weeks, we’ve looked at a K-12 network and everything that is needed for that. Although we have not covered everything, we have included some essential items, such as firewall and Wi-Fi. This week, we will discuss the selection of devices. Many of your software decisions will be based on your device, so choosing the right decision is essential. Let’s dive into the selection of K-12 devices.

On how to sort: Every Saturday, Bradley Chambers publishes a new article about Apple in education. He has managed Apple devices in an educational environment since 2009. With his experience deploying and managing hundreds of Macs and iPads, Bradley will highlight ways in which Apple products work at scale, stories from the IT management trenches and ways in which Apple could improve its products for students.

A common mistake in selecting elementary and high school devices is choosing something without ensuring that it aligns with your school’s goals. There are three main types of devices to consider. After choosing a device, you will have to decide on the various types of hardware, plus accessories, but one thing at a time.


O iPad has been a staple of many elementary and high schools since it opened in 2010. Even at the original price of $ 499, it was much cheaper than a Mac, but it was still comparable to many low-cost PCs.

Over the years, Apple has made iOS (now iPadOS) the iPad much more powerful. The devices have certainly become more powerful over the years. Even the $ 329 iPad ($ 299 for schools) is quite powerful for most use cases in elementary and high school. Overall, iPad hardware is extremely trustworthy. I’m just finishing a four-year contract for the iPad Air 2, and the only thing we’ve been struggling with in the past few months is the lack of ARKit 2 Support, support.

IPad software is the place where it can fall apart for some schools. Despite recent improvements, iPadOS is still difficult in certain use cases. Personally, I find it quicker to work with a trackpad / mouse, forcing just touching the iPad slows me down a bit (schools probably don’t deploy trackpads for all iPads). On the other hand, there are countless use cases where it is easier to use iPad on a laptop. This article does not intend to delve into all the benefits / weaknesses of the iPad, but it is something to consider when making your decision. You should consider what tasks your students will be doing and whether the iPad is suitable for that.

One area that the iPad continues to stand out is manageability. In the early days of managing the iPad, many tasks were still manual. In 2020, Apple Mobile device management APIs continued to improve year after year.



O Chromebook has become quite popular in elementary and high school in recent years. With a wide variety of device options, the Chromebook has some compelling reasons to choose it. ChromeOS continues to become less of a “web-based operating system” and more of an operating system powered by the cloud. Web applications have continued to become as complete as desktop applications. With many popular apps (Slack, Spotify, etc.) choosing to develop cutting edge technologies, Electron on native apps, Chromebooks it looks even more attractive.

As with the iPad, you want to start with what your students are doing and determine the usefulness of ChromeOS for this task. The worst thing you can do here is to choose a device, start distributing it, and find that your critical apps and features don’t work well with the device you’ve selected.

Portable computer

The third device category, when analyzing the selection of K-12 devices, will be a traditional laptop. This schedule includes Macs and PCs. Although these types of devices are the main business, they have fallen out of favor in recent years in education due to their cost.

Although I prefer to use the Mac on a daily basis, I understand why most schools hesitate to deploy them en masse. Compared to a Chromebook or iPad, a Macbook Air It is not cheap. The popular Surface laptops are in the same situation. They can easily cost $ 700 or more, even when purchased in bulk, and this does not include any software, accessories or extended warranties.

I would say that you should probably avoid these devices in elementary and high school unless you have an apparent reason to need them. You need to have curriculum goals that an iPad or a Chromebook can’t do. Both the iPad and the Chromebook have increased their functionality in recent years at a fraction of the cost.

Completion in the selection of K-12 devices

So, what is the answer when selecting K-12 devices? Honestly, it depends only on the technological goals of your schools. There is no right answer. If you plan on using mainly Google Drive, Google Docs, Gmail, etc., a Chromebook will be a strong option for you. If you plan to use more creative tools, want a more usable camera (in nature, etc.), iPad will be a better option for your school. The most important thing to start with is your vision and work towards the device that best fits.

If you have questions or comments about selecting K-12 devices, I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below. This discussion is what I am often asked at conferences, so it is something I think about a lot. Choosing the wrong device can lead to years of frustration and wasted resources. The important thing here is to find out how you want the technology to be used and to test it with the various device options.

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Paula Fonseca