Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Tuesday Tech Tip #3 - Choosing the Right Device

One of the great things about Natomas Charter School is that we have multiple types of student devices from which to choose for academic projects. Between computer labs, Chromebooks, and iPads we have tons of options for student work. However, the choices can also be a bit confusing. In the past few weeks I have received a number of emails or phone calls where teachers realized that maybe they chose the wrong tool for the job.

This post is an attempt to clear up some of that confusion. The tables below are not meant to be all-encompassing, but some of the considerations you might ponder when signing up for a particular cart or computer lab. However, as with any project I strongly encourage you to check out one device after school a few days before the unit begins just to make sure it does what you need it to.

iMacs (Computer Lab)

  • Full keyboard and large screen
  • Complete versions of MS Office, iMovie/Garageband, Adobe
  • Can use Google Earth
  • Students can easily access Google counts
  • Flash, Sliverlight, Java all work

  • Not Mobile
  • Limited Access
  • Have to take kids from your classroom
  • Digital projects (iMovie, Garageband) are stuck on that computer.


  • Physical keyboard and decent size screen
  • Can access any online tool or resource
  • Works very well with any Google Apps EDU tool (Gmail, Docs/Drive, Sites)
  • Work is not stored on the device - kids can access from any other Internet-connected computer
  • Flash animations and videos work well
  • No apps need to be purchased or installed
  • Easy to navigate - it's Google Chrome and nothing else.
  • Multiple carts available for check out (outside of SBAC testing).

  • No Java Support
  • Multimedia creation (video, audio, photography) can be challenging
  • Internet must be on to work properly
  • Can't install programs (it's Google Chrome and nothing else).



  • Mobile
  • Great for taking photos and shooting videos.
  • Multimedia Creation - iMovie for iPad is very similar to the computer-based version. Can also do stop-motion animation (Lego Movie Maker) and short photo shows (SonicPics).
  • Screencasting and Whiteboarding - ShowMe, Educreations
  • Text-Annotation Tools - Subtext app, iBooks App
  • Can access Google Drive and Gmail for limited editing and communications
  • Touch-Interface for apps that allow students to manipulate data and objects. 
  • Very small learning curve since many students have them at home.

  • No Java or Flash support
  • Digital projects live on the device (and are accessible by other students) until complete.
  • No physical keyboard, but this doesn't slow all kids down.
  • Not all Google tools work well or work the same as on the computer or Chromebook
  • Apps must be installed ahead of time and possibly purchased (one copy per device) if it is a paid app                                                                                                                                   

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