More on the iPad vs. Chromebook Debate

Tim Holt’s recent article on EdSurge resulted in a lot of debate, including this recent rebuttal (pro-Chromebook). You can find the rebuttal by Joshua Kim at

Here are Kim’s main points:

Reason 1: Chromebooks are for Creating, iPads are for Consuming

Kim’s main point is that the Chromebook has a keyboard attached to it, again, something that makes the device generally useless for most music programs.

And knowing the number of apps that can be used for music creation, where doing so is very limited on a Chromebook, music education lives in a reverse parallel universe from the rest of education. But then again, any subject without desks would feel the same way.

In truth, the argument that iPads are for consumption is tiring; and if I was a Chomebook apologist, I would be upset that it was implied that the Chromebook wasn’t good for consumption either (Yes, you can use Netflix on a Chromebook, too). Addtionally, the first touch screen Chromebooks are out, too, which may lead to similar ways of interacting with apps on a Chromebook as on an iPad.

Reason 2: The App Versus the Web

Kim argues that the web ecosystem is better for education. HTML 5 apps are still not mature, meaning that can make more developed apps for iOS or Android, versus what can get on a web app. Furthermore, web apps eventually need to be profitable, meaning that they need to sell annual subscriptions (most common) or be ad driven (dangerous at school…how do you control what apps are seen?). Most iPad apps…in music education…are buy once, use forever (or at least for multiple years–usually at a 50% discount). iOS developers are also very open to feedback, meaning that they are willing to add features at the request of paying users whereas web developers may not. Again, in music education, the app ecosystem is better…and web ecosystems that run on a Chromebook tend to also run on an iPad (e.g. NoteFlight).

Reason 3: The Google Ecosystem for Collaboration

Kim’s argument is that Chromebooks are better for collaboration. iPads can, for the most part, be used in every collaborative way that a Chromebook would be used. Furthermore, iPads can be mirrored via a dongle, Apple TV, or computer program…with new peer-to-peer mirroring without wi-fi this fall. I was never much of a fan of group projects in school, as I usually ended up doing the work for the entire group (to save the grade) or in self-selected groups, we would finish days before other groups. Music is collaborative in a others sense–everyone interacting with each other to create musical excellence, which at its core doesn’t even require technology.

Again, until we see a Chomebook tablet (again, unlikely as Google is still committed to Android tablets), a choice of Chromebooks in your school is a statement that the “core” matters, and that music and other “electives” don’t need technology integration in your school. I do support a hybrid model of Chromebook carts and 1:1 iPads, with the option of students checking out Chromebooks overnight. My guess is that many students would not take advantage of that opportunity with 1:1 iPads.

Sadly, Mr. Kim’s article focused on (hard to believe that. I would use this terminology, but it is accurate) old technology stereotypes, and ignored some of the existing positives of Chromebook, such as IT management, cost, and upcoming features and connections with between Chromebooks and Android L.


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