The debate is now Chromebook vs Surface, not iPad, for K-12 education

The cat's out of the bag, and we can all stop guessing as to what the Surface RT will cost. Microsoft confirms many things, namely that Steve Ballmer was spot-on with his estimates on Surface pricing roughly a month ago. The Surface RT is going toe-to-toe with the iPad down to the very last penny. That's a good thing.

One thing I'm curious about is how Surface will change the way K-12 looks at computing devices for the next generation of students. I've already penned my thoughts on why I believe the Surface could very well outshine the iPad in education. A big part of this winning equation has to do with the ecosystem that surrounds a given technology.

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And I personally think Microsoft, not Apple, has a definite leg up in this area. Where iPad lacks, Surface intends to pick up; 1:1  education efforts in K-12 focus on providing each student that enters a given primary education level (namely high school) a single device to centralize their education upon. Yes, bid your goodbye to paper textbooks. eTextbooks are becoming the new norm.

iPad is the Forerunner but Largely Due to Lack of Effective Competition

Over the four years spent at a prominent high school district in Illinois, I saw first hand the enthusiasm that iPad received. It almost became a running joke for us IT folks at educational technology conferences, seeing how many lectures on classroom usage focused on the iPad. So much so that those in the IT crowds yearned for something new, fresh, and technologically more sustainable.

I'll fully give iPad credit where it is rightfully due. That credit sits solely in third-party application support and battery life. These are two areas where similar 1:1 trials with competing devices (namely netbooks -- yes, even I cringe at that defunct term) flailed at best. But after hearing about the 1:1 trial efforts of various districts dabbling in iPads, the technical concerns were what I took away from these conferences.

Centralized management. Security. User-level permissions. Ease of updates for apps and core iOS software. The list went on. And while those tasked with taking care of the devices (commonly teachers, as IT folks tended to stay clear of adding onto their already burdened task lists) tried to smile as they showed off their best efforts in classroom device management, it was clearly a love-hate thing at best. While the devices gave students an outlet for modern learning, I could see teachers were quietly wishing for a beacon of hope.

While it has yet to be seen what this potent combination looks like in the wild, it's hard not to realize that Microsoft may be looking to help K-12 fill this void left by the iPad. Sure, Surface will be far from hitting any astronomical app counts in the Windows Store anytime soon, but this doesn't mean development won't pick up when the device's potential becomes more apparent. Keep in mind that the iPad didn't launch with any dizzying array of useful apps, and it took a good year and a half before truly exceptional content started to hit the platform targeted for education.

Surface + Active Directory = Easy Alternative to iPad Management

Up until now, most districts in the USA offered a top-down approach to device usage. "We" provide the device; "We" manage the device; and "We" keep the device in school at the end of the day. That model is being turned on its head in a few important ways.

After numerous years of trials, K-12 is realizing that consistent deployment and usage not only cuts costs in textbooks and shared devices, but also fosters better learning through student buy-in with the technology they use. As more and more learning shifts to the Internet as a primary medium of informational knowledge and sharing, a 1:1 experience for students is becoming ever more integral for the 21st century.

But with decentralization of technology comes a glaring problem: keeping everything updated, in order and secure. As my experienced reflections above show, IT departments at school districts aren't fully sold on the concept of iPad as the de-facto common device. A classroom of iPads is tough to manage -- but a school of 2,000 students bearing the iconic slate is a downright nightmare.

If Microsoft listens to the voices of the educational technology community at large, it will follow through on what is a clear winning combination: Surface in the hands of students and Active Directory in the hands of IT management. Updates could be centrally managed; security policies could be rolled out en-masse; and a bloated iTunes-like application wouldn't ever be needed as an intermediary to handle all of the above. Not to mention this could all be pushed over already-standard 802.11g/n infrastructure, which means no downtime in managing cords, cables and the "octopus headache" that some iPad trials are known for.

Of course, all of my predictions on the Surface are just that: hopeful thinking. Microsoft's Education department has either not realized the potential throng of Surface users in K-12 or is waiting to lay their plans out on the table. Either way, I'm itching to see what happens because I truly think if Microsoft doesn't capitalize on Apple's shortcomings, Google surely will over time with the already released Chromebook.

"All you need is web" (and Chromebook), Google claims

In a way, Google's blog post of the same title is a bit presumptuous and perhaps a tad arrogant. But I happen to agree with it. Over the course of my previous IT career working for a public high school, I have seen the shift in progress with my own eyes. You could say what you will about traditionally installed software, but to the large majority of students I served, Internet access is almost a necessity in one way or another.

One could argue that this may stem from the fact that a large portion of learning and research is shifting to the web. This is true in every respect. But look at all the auxiliary functions that I saw personally supplement (sometimes overtake) traditional software. Students commonly use Google Docs in some form for classroom work. Mind mapping websites such as Bubbl.us are completely free and allow students to work on concepts anywhere and anytime. Even large encyclopedic references that used to be centrally managed by our district are offloaded to new interactive online-only editions -- and this over the course of only four years!

I personally like the proposition that the Chromebook makes. Just as the Surface potentially affords a school district simple management through Active Directory, Google's Chromebook takes this same notion and simplifies it a few degrees. Whereas a traditional IT department usually controls policies through Active Directory, a fleet of Chromebooks can be controlled by people with little technical background like teachers or even school execs. That's because the core management responsibilities for Chromebooks are easily manipulated within the familiar cloud-based Google Apps Control Panel.

And while Microsoft's approach to Surface management is still an educated guess at best, Google's definitely not blowing any hot air with their native Chromebook capabilities. My technology company had the chance to help Dallas County R-1 Schools in Buffalo, Missouri roll out their initial batch of Chromebooks back in December 2011. By the time our 3-day training effort was complete, we had teachers (read: not IT folks) managing default applications, home pages and other settings for their students' Chromebooks. Everything was controlled through a common web interface, with access no matter where teachers were -- home or at school. Yet upper level administrative control was never lost.

Since Chromebooks have been around for about a year and a half now, the true dollars and cents are starting to become clear. Google and IDC co-sponsored a study on Chromebook device management and the results were fairly staggering in comparison to traditional IT management of devices. For a 3-year time span, the Chromebook achieves a TCO of $935 per device. When it comes to installation, Chromebooks require 69 percent less labor. And the biggest eye-opener for educational IT departments has to be the fact that Chromebooks require 92 percent less labor in long term support. With tightening school budgets, these are cost savings that are hard to laugh at.

It must be pointed out that districts that have already invested in the Google Apps for Education path will naturally have the most seamless integration of Chromebooks. Google Apps is the cloud-based email and communications suite that is completely free of charge for any K-12 school district. I personally believe Google Apps is much more mature in comparison to Microsoft's hobbled attempts over the years with its own cloud-based email suite [email protected], which has been haphazardly replaced by Office 365 for Education (which is not free, by the way.) My former district was one of the first to move into Google Apps for staff and students, and it paid off nicely with simplified email and document collaboration, which our traditional Microsoft environment alone just didn't provide.

Will a device that considers the "web" its primary start screen succeed? My best guess is as good as yours. Chromebook's price point is definitely attractive for districts, especially when pitted against Surface (note: non-RT pricing on the Surface is still a mystery, which will have the AD tie-ins I predict in this article.) Only the market will unravel the true story of 1:1 device rollouts across districts in the USA. If Microsoft and/or Google can help clarify their advantages over Apple's pothole-filled path towards 1:1, they can easily help steer the debate in their favor.

I love the promise that both Surface and Chromebook have in terms of the ecosystems they offer. Apple may provide a name brand and an established experience, but it doesn't have the understanding of the Enterprise to be taken seriously. Now the underdogs just have to catch up to Apple where end users care: third-party apps.

Derrick Wlodarz is an IT professional who owns Park Ridge, IL (USA) based computer repair company FireLogic. He has over 7+ years of experience in the private and public technology sectors, holds numerous credentials from CompTIA and Microsoft, and is one of a handful of Google Apps Certified Trainers & Deployment Specialists in the States. He is an active member of CompTIA's Subject Matter Expert Technical Advisory Council that shapes the future of CompTIA examinations across the globe. You can reach out to him at [email protected].

44 Responses to The debate is now Chromebook vs Surface, not iPad, for K-12 education

  1. 1DaveN says:

    It seems like even Amazon is more interested in this market than Apple. http://www.theverge.com/2012/10/17/3516282/amazon-whispercast-kindle
    BTW, I'm not sure school districts would need to opt for Win8 Pro - some functions of RT can be managed with System Center. I haven't had a chance to look into that yet, but since you'd think a school district would be using management tools anyway, the lack of AD in the RT version might not be a deal breaker.

  2. IT advisor says:

    Quote: ..."I believe the Surface could very well outshine the iPad in education."

    Sorry, Derrick. You're wrong.

    When we look at what platforms will win or loose, the features on offer are actually a minor factor. For the same reason better platforms like Atari, OS/2, Be or even Betamax failed, surface will fail too.

    We can come back in a month or so and see who was right.

    • woe says:

      +100000 It is going to fail big time in comparison. Microsoft employees and partners will gobble them up...but that is about it.

  3. brunul says:

    HAHAHA what a funny stupid title, seriously! What are you guys smoking over there?!!

  4. ToeKneeC67 says:

    Do any of you know teachers - Apple wins because they don't like change and it's easy. Windows RT could do well - but you image teachers support Linux...sorry Android or Chrome OS tablets.

    • ellett says:

      You don't need to know anything at all about Linux to operate or manage Chrome OS devices. I've been using Chrome OS devices for going on two years and I have never needed to or even wanted to drop into Linux from the native browser interface. Chrome OS is a marvel of simplicity and usability.

  5. The whole RT vs Pro thing will be the demise of surface.

    • psycros says:

      That and Metro. And the awful design of the keyboard. And the ugliness of the device itself. And the price. And..

    • scophi says:

      Agree. Users will have to choose between two very similar MS products. "Divide and conquer" is not the right way to treat your own user base.

      MS should have created two separate operating systems -- Windows 8 for desktops/laptops and Windows RT for tablets and phones.

    • ToeKneeC67 says:

      I know, the same problem is happening to OSX and iOS.

      • woe says:

        You have this thing called a Macbook that runs OS X and its a computer. You have this other thing called a iPad that runs iOS and its called a tablet. Its understood that they wont run the same software.

        You have this thing called a surface and it comes in two models one runs Windows 8 on ARM and the other runs Windows 8 on x86...both are called tablets. Both wont run the same apps and its NOT understood by consumers.

      • ToeKneeC67 says:

        So you are saying the average consume is an idiot and can only tell it's a different OS because of the shape of the device :)

        By the way, I think people will figure it out, it's that hard, it's here is Metro, here is Metro & your old desktop. I also see, here is sales people saying "here is Metro, the same as iPad but with USB ports and HDMI out.."

        On that - I use to think the same (typing fast, playing a game) that they should be separate - but I want both. I love the iPad, I want Metro. But I want my desktop too. If anything it should just be Windows 8.

      • ellett says:

        I don't think qoe is saying that anyone is an idiot. It's just that the vast majority of people, the ones who don't hang out on blogs and forums, don't care. They want something that works for them; they want to use technology without having to deal with technological problems.

      • ToeKneeC67 says:

        True - That was picking on Woe as I'm seeing that all over Betanews and his was the last comment. I like Woe most the time :) But I really don't think people will be that confused. Than again, I have seen people get home with an Android phone and weeks later say...this isn't an iPhone.

      • SPM says:

        The average Apple fanboy - possibly. Most of these guys think that Apple invented the rectangle, rounded corners, and the sliding latch, and when they see any laptop that looks silver coloured, they complain loudly that it is a rip-off of the Macbook. Not too much IQ there at all.

  6. woe says:

    Derrick is a SMB Microsoft partner so anything and everything he said should be taken with a grain of salt....or basically he is dreaming.

    Where I live, where my kids go to school, the iPad was piloted last year and it is now a full on option for students. All lessons and text books are now on my kids iPad's. Their backpacks have an iPad and notebooks. Missing are the 25-40 lbs of text books made from trees.

    Microsoft is too late.

    http://www.usnews.com/education/high-schools/articles/2012/08/03/tablets-trump-laptops-in-high-school-classrooms?vwo=ecfb2

    Out city counsel switched to iPads last year and they save at least 3k on paper every year....the iPads are paid for in 2 years.

    The biggest MYTH is that Microsoft office on a Windows tablet is a game changer. News flash its NOT. All non Microsoft tablets can open any MS Office document already. If you want to edit it (which is probably less than 10% of tablet users) there are plenty of of apps for that on iOS and Android. If MS drops Office for the iPad....I wont buy it, it just does not matter so much anymore. Serious document creation is not done on tablets for the most part.

    • scophi says:

      I agree with your last paragraph. MS Office compatibility has been available on all tablets for quite some time. Other than a new UI, what does RT bring to the table?

    • ToeKneeC67 says:

      Yes - and most of those apps to edit are pathetic in comparison. There is a reason MS Office is a favorite - works and it expands from the most basic person all the way up (Excel simply rocks). Don't get me wrong, I have 2 iPads, I have Apples equal apps (10 bucks each) - they do the basics, very basics. It's all about the right tool for the right job. Really you can do most word processing needs in Word Pad, ever pen and paper works - But Office is king for a reason. You also have to take money out of the equation to determine the best. If all, including Office 2013 for tablets, were free - well - it would simply win...as it is the best.

      On that - totally agree with schools - I posted something below - you got me thinking. Schools systems in the Chicago Subs have lots and lots of money, not to mention most family are doing well - hence iPad's are dominating in this part of the county (seriously if you saw the high school parking lots...BMW's, Audi's so on). The only reason a Chrome OS tablet would be considered is cost. And with the rumors of an iPad Mini - well that ends that issue :)

      • woe says:

        You wrongly assume that Office RT will be like Office 2013 on a x86 PC.

        It won't. It will be gimped and on these 5 point touch devices way less usable. It wont have the same features and remains to be seen if something like Pages on the iPad will be better than Word on Windows RT tablets. I have already seen videos that show its not very "touch friendly".

      • ToeKneeC67 says:

        You could be right - Pages sucks buy the way. I use it for quick edits but in the big picture...

      • SPM says:

        It has indeed been confirmed in one review that the version of Office you get with Windows RT is a limited cut down version - not the full Office you get on x86 Windows.

        To be honest, I don't like Windows 8 or Windows 7 - I like various Windows apps for their utility. If I can get web apps or iPad or Android apps for their utility, that's fine with me.

      • ToeKneeC67 says:

        Correct, but that 'limited' Office is still better than anything on Android and iOS tablets.

      • SPM says:

        Chromebooks seamlessly do the full MS Office experience as well, without the maintenance overhead associated with Windows clients and local apps and data.

        Just try this:
        http://www.ericom.com/AccessNow_DemosIntro.asp

      • ToeKneeC67 says:

        Very cool - but I can do the same with Citrix and a dozen other programs. So you save 40 bucks not buying Windows 8 so you can remote into system to give you Windows Apps and functions :)

      • SPM says:

        Makes sense if like 99% of casual users we spend most of our time on the Internet. Also makes sense for most other users - for example those who work from different offices, those who work from office and home, those who travel frequently etc. In this case, rather than lug our heavyweight Windows laptop or workstation and all our data with us everywhere we go, we get a lightweight laptop instead, or carry around a smart phone or tablet when travelling really light, and use that to get remote access to our heavy applications as and when you need to.

        Makes sense for business as well. Keeps data safe on the server, and you only need to provide Windows apps for those who actually need them - which is not as many as most people like to think. It is also the most secure and cheapest way to run Windows. For universities, Citrix clients are an important way of avoiding software piracy and licensing issue liability, which they would have if they were required to provide licenses for specialist software for their students to run on their own Windows laptops. The same will apply to software supplied by schools for unmanaged (non-locked down) or bring-your-own Windows desktops provided for school students.

        Running Windows on desktops is expensive in terms of IT support. Doing it on a server is a fraction of the cost because processes like re-imaging desktops can be automated, and doesn't need physical access. If people are using your own Windows PC, then they are happy to contribute their own time to do Windows maintenance, upgrade, and troubleshooting for free, or get a friend to do it. However if you run a business, a school or university, you have to pay IT staff to do this, and to make sure pirated software is not installed on the devices, and while hardware is relatively cheap nowadays, IT labour is very costly.

        As anybody who has been involved in provisioning desktops for businesses and public institutions will know, the cost of Windows desktop provisioning is by fat the biggest cost in providing enterprise IT. This is why Chromebooks have caught on in schools, universities, and some businesses (like salesforce and CRM service companies). Schools that deployed Chromebooks have found that the TCO of Chromebooks are about 30% of the cost of Windows laptops. This is mainly due to Chromebooks being zero maintenance, zero touch devices, and the fact that a local Windows AD server is not required for authentication. This means large numbers of skilled IT staff required to manage 1:1 deployments are not required, and one IT person can manage huge numbers of devices over many schools. On top of that schools reported increased teacher and student productivity because they did not have to manage data and apps or have to do any device user maintenance or configuration - it is all done automatically managed centrally for defined groups of users using a web based management console interface.

      • ToeKneeC67 says:

        ARM = Slow
        I assume there is a market though

      • SPM says:

        $599 Windows Surface RT (incl. flat keyboard) = REALLY SLOW. (Peacekeeper score 348)

        $249 ARM Chromebook (superb keyboard and touchpad) = NOT SO BAD - 3.34 times as fast as the Windows Surface RT. and about 1.5 to 2 times as fast as a dual core Atom. (Peacekeeper score 1162)

        http://www.neowin.net/news/surface-rt-gets-crushed-in-peacekeeper-browser-benchmark
        http://gigaom.com/mobile/intel-v-arm-the-chromebook-performance-battle/

        Depends really what you are doing. For normal web page browsing or video playback, you won't notice a lot of difference between the Chromebook of the top of the range Macbook Air. It is only when you play HTML5 games or Flash games. The old Atom Chromebooks did fine in schools because students aren't spending a lot of time in school playing games or watching movies on their computers.

      • ToeKneeC67 says:

        At least you put links up. I saw similar links. But that isn't the ARM of the surface as much as programming IE for RT. I say that, because IE 10 for the Desktop is scoring really well. Of course I'm a chrome fan, and Chrome is out there for Windows RT. If you have used a Surface, speed is OK, not great, but very usable, and I have no doubt in 3 months it's drivers will be optimized. On that, it also cost more because the over all hardware and design kicks the Chrombooks ass in material, design and looks. You pay for that of course. Than again, I've always been impressed with the iPad build. On that, I like the Chromebook, but it should have been 350 and better. I would have paid 350. I won't pay 250 for what it is.

      • SPM says:

        The Windows Surface RT chip is the ARM A-9 which is a lot slower than the A-15 in the Chromebook. The Chromebook Mali T604 GPU is a lot faster than the one in Surface RT as well. That would explain most of the speed difference.

        I am hoping that there will be a 4GB RAM quad core Exynos 5 replacement for the Celeron based Chromebook with 10+ hours battery life as schools and businesses will appreciate the longer battery life and higher RAM, and unlike the consumer, don't mind paying a little bit more. I will definitely get one of those if it comes out.

        I am not sure about the Windows 8 Pro tablets. There is certainly more reason for having it than the RT, but it is still better to get a laptop. The point is that to use Windows apps properly (as opposed to Metro apps) you need a keyboard and mouse/trackpad. No matter how thin they have made the cover or the displacement keyboard, and how clever the magnetic kickstand is, it is still a kludge and inferior to a proper laptop keyboard and trackpad. If you are paying $999 for a Windows 8 pro device, wouldn't you want a proper keyboard? I don't really see the point of Windows Surface 8 Pro compared to a current non-touch laptop running Windows 8.

      • ToeKneeC67 says:

        I want touch screen, anything sold needs 2010 on needs to be touchscreen. It's fast for many, many task. Just as a keyboard and mouse is faster for others. A Chromebooks without a touchscreen is like going 5 years back. A laptop without a touch screen and an ARM process is like going 10 years back. I have 2500-3000 tied into my desktop (wicked speeds). Laptops are dead to me, it's all about tablets, touchscreen and what MS did is gave me a keyboard and mouse for when it's needed. On that, the surface supports Bluetooth 4.0 and USB 3.0 - I can connect a keyboard to it when needed.
        The comparison of a Chromebook laptop....wait doesn't even matter the OS. To compare a cheap laptop with an ARM processor to a MS Surface is like Apple and Oranges.
        Now if you talk the Nexus 10.1 now we are talking. of course it's the same price (499 for 32 gigs, and a case with a keyboard).

        there is a market for the ChromeOS laptop. I'm more impressed with the OS than the hardware.

      • SPM says:

        The problem is Windows apps (as opposed to Metro apps) don't really work with touch - you need a keyboard and trackpad for that. A touch screen isn't a great deal of benefit except for Metro apps, and there aren't a lot of those around at the moment. Maybe in a couple of years things will be different. If you really want to use a touch screen, you are much better off with an Android or iPad for now.

        In terms of performance both the Nexus 10.1 and ARM Chromebook trump the Windows RT tablet. The Windows Surface RT tablet stands out because has a different and interesting form factor. The three aren't really comparable for those reasons.

        The $399 Nexus 10.1, like the ARM Chromebook is 3.34 times faster than the $499 Windows RT tablet (excl. cover keyboard) as it has the same Exynos 1.7GHz dual core ARM processor and ARM Mali T604 GPU as the $249 ARM Chromebook.

        Nexus 10.1 has a 2560x1600 screen resolution compared to the 1366x768 of the Windows Surface RT and ARM Chromebook, so the ARM Chromebook is more comparable from that viewpoint.

        I don't agree with your comment about ARM being a backward step. Intel is a backward step to heavy, noisy, clunky devices with a short battery life, going 10 years back and more. ARM is a step forward to silent, light, cool, super compact feature packed devices of the future. ARM based devices feel completely different from Intel ones - the Intel devices feel like trucks - heavy, noisy, battery guzzling, heavy handling monstrosities. ARM devices feel like nimble handling, maneuverable, fun to drive, lightweight sports cars.

      • ToeKneeC67 says:

        Again, for the advantages you are putting, the iPad still is number 1. Better...well just about everything over the Nexus. But I have faith in Microsoft, love Windows 7, digging Windows 8 (with a few changes). The apps are coming for RT faster than you think. However, I think the tiles they use in the store are ugly - hard on the eyes. Give it one year, you will get a full blown Windows 8 (with Metro) for 500 and under.

      • SPM says:

        Yes, I agree, iPad is nice, so is Android, and yes it will take at least a year for Windows 8 Metro apps to develop. What I am saying is that Windows RT isn't worth buying at the moment - at the moment it is just an oversized Windows Phone 8 which can't make phone calls.

    • 1DaveN says:

      This is not an anti-Apple comment: since our office went "paperless," our printing and paper costs have skyrocketed. The document management system makes people more aware of documents' existence, and then they print them to read where a screen is not available, or not their preferred method of reading.
      This is an anti-Apple comment: printing from the iPad is such a pain that it's no wonder paper costs would drop after their implementation.

  7. ilev says:

    Surface RT for education with 0 applications (Surface pro is $1000+) while the iPad has 10,000 education..special need... applications ?
    There is no competition between the two.

  8. Windows RT doesn't support Active Directory. Which kind of puts a spanner in Derrick's vision, because it means in order to get the advantages he wants, you'll need to buy Surface Pro's, which will blow the budgets of most schools.

    • woe says:

      Or buy another MS service to manage the RT devices. Not supporting GPO's/GPP's was the biggest mistake they made. It was the ONLY advantage that MS had and they shit all over that idea.

  9. woe says:

    "Surface + Active Directory = Easy Alternative to iPad Management"

    This right here shows his ignorance.

    No one uses iTunes to manage many iOS devices. There are free tools from Apple that are at least 3 years old if not more that work really well.

    http://www.apple.com/support/iphone/enterprise/

    Here is a great article on why RT will fail hard.....this from a die hard Windows Lover.

    http://www.winsupersite.com/article/windows8/windows-rt-redmond-problem-144554

  10. disqusaurus_rex says:

    Nonsense and drivel. RT will have none of this manageability, and in education, where IT is done more or less ad hoc anyways, matters a lot less than the price differential that will likely exist between Surface Pro and even the highest priced iPad.

  11. danman1111 says:

    My experience is that IT professionals talk about simplifying their jobs (see above), but in reality they try to build huge complex empires (real life experience). So I see where Derrick is coming from, Surface and Chrome will allow huge complex empires that can be centrally managed, whereas iPad is device based - truly distributed computing.

    You would be a crazy IT professional to promote iPad - you would be promoting yourself out of a job.

    • rhaiil says:

      True....
      Thats what seperates IT professionals from Users, IT professionals do the hard work and users celebrates the ease of work.

    • SPM says:

      Windows RT runs local apps and stores data locally. That is going to be difficult to manage. Why bother with RT if you have Chromebooks?

  12. 1DaveN says:

    Teacher lets kids use iPad, they find inappropriate photos in her iCloud, kids get suspended. We've got our share of idiots here in NY, but thankfully we've got Indiana to make us feel better about ourselves. http://heraldbulletin.com/local/x699451004/ACS-Highland-teacher-photos-are-not-topless-or-pornographic

  13. SPM says:

    Windows RT (and Windows Pro) tablets are completely unsuited to education. They have the poor manageability of Windows, added to the manageability issues with local data and local apps (which the iPad also has) combined with the lack of a proper keyboard, greater expense, and no applications in the case of Windows RT. In addition, in order to authenticate Windows RT or Windows Pro, it will be necessary to every school to set up at least one Windows server to provide Active Directory authentication services. The whole thing is as complicated and maintenance heavy as deploying Windows 7 laptops on a 1:1 basis, except for the fect that the clients are more expensive and less capable and lack proper keyboards.

    Compared to this, Chromebooks will have a TCO of a third or quarter of the cost of the Windows RT approach - mostly due to savings on IT staff salaries necessary to maintain the Windows authenication servers, and to provide desktop support for management of local applications, data, and devices. Chromebooks have also proven to be far more productive for teachers and students than either Windows, Macs or iPads due to the fact that end users do not need to manage their device data, or apps - it is transparently stored on their cloud storage without them having to worry about where it is stored, and without having to wipe the device on handover, or having users making sure new apps are installed etc.

    I can understand a Microsoft SMB touting for business in schools, but to be realistic, Windows RT and Windows Pro tablets are just about the worst choice for schools - even worse that Windows 7 laptops. They certainly won't work economically for 1:1 deployments, and they are very poor as shared computers as well.

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