After quite a year of remote and hybrid learning, many school districts across the country are returning to in-person classrooms. But digitally delivered learning — and therefore the student computing technology that permits it — remain critical educational tools. As district IT teams reevaluate their 2021–22 academic year approach, one key question is whether or not tablets or Chromebooks are the simplest platforms for teaching and learning.
Depending on their grade level and sophistication subjects, some students could also be better served by a laptop form factor, while other learners may benefit more from touchscreen tablets. As you browse computing technology for college kids and teachers, consider key variables like device and screen size, processing speed, connectivity options, and whether a keyboard is included.
For younger students, digital learning remains a replacement experience, so administrators should specialize in choosing technology that will lessen any associated anxiety. In addition, students need durable devices with intuitive operating systems and user-friendly online tools.
To find the simplest tablet or Chromebook for your students and teachers, consider these questions on their needs and goals:
1. What do learning environments look like in your district?
Before you select a tool type, evaluate the character of your district’s learning environments — whether you’re still fully remote, back to in-person, or taking a hybrid approach. Are students doing most of their work independently and turning it in once they need internet connectivity? Are teachers still holding live class sessions via videoconferencing? Will students need digital collaboration tools to finish group assignments? Ask teachers and principals about the lesson plans being employed in your district so you’ll choose devices that will best facilitate learning in your unique setting (or settings).
2. When are students taught keyboard skills?
Some schools teach students how to type by third grade, but are your elementary students ready for a Chromebook? Talk with their teachers to determine whether students would be comfortable employing a keyboard and trackpad as their main work tools. Remember that students who are still in mostly or completely remote learning environments may have less support to study new technologies than they are doing within the classroom.
3. Are students easier with tablets or laptops?
First, ask teachers this question, then consider polling students and their parents for further input. Even in higher grades, some students could also be easier with a tablet than a Chromebook because they’re already familiar with using smartphones. A method to supply both experiences is with a hybrid device, like the Samsung Chromebook Plus or the new Galaxy Chromebook 2, which may convert from a standard laptop to tablet mode. A choice is to get plug-in keyboards for students’ tablets to use for data processing.
4. Is Wi-Fi accessibility a problem for your student population?
If your students are still learning from home, even part-time — or maybe receiving assignments that need internet connectivity in some capacity, like research or discussion — and an outsized portion of them have unreliable home internet access, you’ll want to think about providing devices with an alternate source of connectivity, like LTE. Some Chromebooks, like the Chromebook Plus LTE, accompany cellular connectivity inbuilt, as do many Galaxy tablets. Having dependable access to the web are often an excellent equalizer, especially for older students.
5. What do your teachers got to make remote or hybrid learning more effective?
When it involves remote instruction, teaching from a computer may be a far cry from standing ahead of a full classroom. Confirm you’re taking note of your teachers and dealing to satisfy their needs additionally to their students’. For example, suppose teachers record and edit instructional videos and teach over live videoconferences within the coming year. In that case, they’ll need devices with computing power and relevant accessories to handle those tasks. If they like to annotate students’ written work by hand instead of track changes on a word processing system, teachers may prefer a touchscreen device with a built-in pen. Tablets like the Galaxy Tab S7 and Chromebooks like the Chromebook Plus and Galaxy Chromebook will fit the bill.
6. What are your long-term goals for device life cycles and classroom use?
The pandemic forced educators to specialize in present-day needs. But now, it’s worth taking a step back to gauge your long-term education technology goals. How long does your district typically keep devices before replacing them? As in-person classroom learning resumes, which mobile device features will your teachers and students need the most? Albeit your district is back to completely in-person classes, mobile devices are still useful for teachers and students to require home — keeping all their notes, resources, and assignments in one place.
Ultimately, you can’t assume that tablets are always better for elementary students, and Chromebooks are always better for top schoolers. Many variables will remain unseen until you consult teachers, parents, and students directly. Then, once you’ve gathered a transparent set of needs, reach bent a trusted technology partner like Samsung that understands the complexities you’re facing and may assist you in finding devices that will help your schools thrive.