Or… Creation vs. Consumption.

In the ongoing discussion in EdTech about Chromebooks vs. iPads, one of the discussion points that keeps coming up is that Chromebooks are for creation of content, iPads are about consumption of content.  On and on it goes…

There’s an interesting EdSurge article where they cite three reasons why Chromebooks are so much better than iPads. Reason 1 they say, is just as I stated above.  In that point, the author states:

“The Chromebook has one huge advantage over the iPad that even the most hardcore iOS fanboys cannot dispute. It was built to type on.

You may concede that writing is a non-negotiable element of learning, and that typing on a Chromebook is better than an iPad. And you can argue that creating can accommodate many different types of inputs. The iPad enables creation with video (two cameras and all those video editing and picture apps). The iPad enables creation with sound. The iPad enables creation with the finger, gesture and touch.

But I would submit that anyone making the argument that the iPad is adequate for creating should be willing to live with only an iPad. How far would you get in your work if you were using just an iPad?  Most everyone I know who owns an iPad uses it as a complement and a supplement to a laptop. They might bring their iPad to meetings attached to this keyboard or that, but for serious work (which almost always means creating documents), it is back to the laptop.”

I would concede that many use the iPad as an adjunct to a laptop or desktop, however, to say that iPad is a consumption device and not a creation device simply isn’t the case.  What’s required to create on an iPad is the ability to think outside the box, and work within the limitations of the platform.  To be fair there certainly are limitations to the platform, that doesn’t mean that stunning creation cannot be done on iPads, it simply means you have to be able to think differently to do that.  It’s a bit outside the scope of this post to get into some of those creative processes, and I will freely admit that I am not the most creative of people, but I’ve seen movie trailers and Keynote and multimedia presentations done on iOS devices that simply negate this argument for me.  It CAN be done, and done well, so the platform can’t be simply dismissed as consumption based.

Other things that comes up frequently is that app vs. the web, and Google’s ecosystem for collaboration, which is very comprehensive, and those are compelling arguments and have a great deal of validity, but to write the iPad off because it is a “consumption device” and therefore has limited use in the classroom is simply a very narrow view.

There are other compelling reasons why Chromebooks are a reasonable choice in education settings, the cost per device of putting one in the hands of every student being one of the biggest.  But the fact of the matter is, that businesses today are not using Chromebooks in day to day operations.  Many business if not most have some accommodation for iPads or other iOS devices.  IBM has partnered with Apple to create business apps for iOS, and the iOS platform is widely accepted in businesses all over the world.  This isn’t the case with Chromebooks right now.  That can change.  That’s sort of the nature of technology in our world, but to simply say it is about consumption not creation and dismiss iPad as a very practical, very real world device is more of an excuse than a legitimate reason for excluding it from the list of options available for bringing technology into the classroom.