Schools expect iPads to outnumber personal computers in next five years

“The days of students lugging around massive backpacks loaded with heavy textbooks are numbered,” Ed Sutherland reports for Cult of Mac. “According to a new poll of educational IT directors, signs are strong that within the next five years, all U.S. schools could adopt tablets, many as a replacement for textbooks.”

“The good news for Apple is that in education circles (as with most consumers) the only tablet worth considering is the iPad,” Sutherland reports. “All 25 educational IT directors surveyed by institutional securities firm Piper Jaffray said they were using iPads. In fact, according to analyst Gene Munster, not a single school reported employees using Android-based tablets.”

Read more in the full article here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Edward Weber” for the heads up.]


    1. I’m sorry, but you guys are severely missing the point…at least, insofar as public schools are concerned. Generally speaking, the most important thing when purchasing computers – for better or worse – is acquisition cost. Not TCO, not usage value, or any other factor.

      In today’s challenging economic times, that mantra is amplified to an even greater degree. Consider that school districts can get a decent HP laptop, with a 3-year warranty, for less than $500. I’m not talking a netbook – this is a full-size notebook with all the specs that matter in a classroom environment. Where can we get a portable Mac anywhere near that price? Don’t say ‘iPad’ – it’s not the same as a laptop…plus, there’s the theft and breakage factor with an iPad, because, let’s face it – no one wants to steal a crappy HP laptop. 🙂

      Sure, we’ll have to add antivirus software and other security measures, but we already own those licenses…so, again, the acquisition cost is the deciding factor. Additionally, we already have certified technicians that can work on HP machines and understand how Windows operates. It would be a significant expense to bring in another vendor’s equipment and train our staff to diagnose & repair.

      I’m a Mac fan – that’s all I run at home. But, if we’re being totally honest, we’re moving to an OS-agnostic world. It’s all about content…and when that content is equally available on all platforms, then cost becomes the #1 factor. Are there apps/applications that are either only available on iOS/OS X, or significantly better on iOS/OS X? Absolutely…but that’s not enough to justify to disparity in hardware costs…at least, not enough to justify it to the bean counters/voters.

      In a perfect world, I would much prefer to have a mixed-OS environment…if not an outright Apple shop…but it’s just not realistic at this point. We just can’t win the PR battle at this time to increase our acquisition costs. Can you imagine this at a school board meeting: “Yes, sir – I know we had to furlough teachers for three days, suspend raises for the past three years, and decrease benefits…but we’re asking for a 60% increase in our computer acquisition budget.” Not gonna happen.

    2. Ahem! Excuse me, but I hear that most of the schools are holding off buying any tablets until the Windows 8 tablets are released. These remarkable Windows tablets are able to do everything and run every application possible. These Windows tablets aren’t merely big iPod Touches. Students will love using the stylus to take notes. Imagine the full power of the Windows desktop in a tablet that is thinner than the current iPad 2 and half the price. Equipped with every type of port you can imagine and SDXC expansion slots that hold up 2GB of storage. The student can open the largest Microsoft Office Excel spreadsheets and Word documents. What good is a tablet that doesn’t have the full Microsoft Office Suite multi-tasking in the background? The iPad doesn’t even run Microsoft Office or Flash. It’s completely useless for education. What will students do when they go to a Flash site that says, “Viewable on every platform and device ever except iOS users.”

      How about we kill all this noise about schools adapting iPads to help students. They’re just not powerful enough for young minds. Bill Gates may come out of retirement to run the Windows Tablet K-12 Project to show students the power of the stylus that he dreamed would change the world. Never underestimate the power of the Windows tablet and stylus. The iPad is doomed. Steve’s final words were, “Oh wow, oh wow, oh wow. It’s the Windows 8 tablet that’s the iPad killer.”

  1. I’m the Network/System Admin for a large school district. We have full-coverage wireless in all of our schools and allow students to bring in their own devices, should they so choose. On any given day, there are nearly 5,000 Apple devices on our public wireless infrastructure (most running iOS, with a smattering – less than 10% – of laptops)…with the next-closest “competitor” having around 60 devices. That’s a massive discrepancy.

    However, there *is* a problem with the iOS devices – they are far more sensitive to the RF environment than others devices. Whereas we could count on associated devices to maintain a reliable, and comfortably speedy, connection down to -72dBm, iOS devices need a stronger connection (we’ve found that anything weaker then -65dBm is problematic).

    Since we have such a large number of user-supplied Apple devices (we’re a total Microsoft “shop”), we’re having to make modifications to our wireless infrastructure to accommodate the abundance of iOS devices…in some cases, we’re having to add more wireless arrays to strengthen the environment.

    While I’m happy to do whatever I can to foster a rich environment for teaching/learning, it’s a bit disappointing that Apple’s portable devices aren’t as robust as everyone else’s. Other than the wireless “issue”, the iDevices are a great complement to the classroom.

    1. Just a general correction, not meant to slam your comment which is generally correct in every way.

      Wi-Fi dB as measured by RSSI on the receiver’s antenna is measured inversely proportional to signal strength. So 72dB indicates a lower signal strength and 65dB indicates a higher signal strength.

      Tolerance to Wi-Fi signal can be accounted for in many ways. The inclination and tilt of the antenna, the beam spread of the wireless signal coming out of the access point, the diversity of signal channels, occlusion by physical objects in between, and other factors.

      In my experience iDevices by which I assume you mean iPads and iPod touches are no better or worse than other handheld devices in locking in to signal. If you’re comparing iDevices to a laptop or notebook then you have to take into account the number of antenna embedded in the laptop which is generally more in number than an iDevice. This ensures that multi path signals can be defeated more effectively.

      1. Sorry, you’re right – I should’ve used RSSI instead of dBm…that’s what I get for typing while working. 🙂 In my post, I was only comparing the iDevices (yes – meaning iPods, iPhones, and iPads) versus other handhelds – Xooms, Galaxy Tabs, HTC phones (both Win7 and Android)…not laptops.

        We’ve done extensive testing…and while we’re by no means a testing laboratory, we’re fairly confident in our findings. Additionally, we’ve had confirmation from our wireless vendor that, indeed, the iDevices are more sensitive to fluctuations in the wireless environment than other handheld devices. Admittedly, I don’t know if it’s just a result of our vendor’s wireless hardware + iDevices…it could very well be something that’s not experienced with a different wireless infrastructure. So, perhaps it would have been more appropriate for me to say: The iDevices, used in our environment, with our particular wireless hardware, aren’t as robust as other handheld devices.

        On a slightly different note, don’t even get me started with multipathing, interference, etc. It’s amazing what can cause problems in a wireless environment about which most people have no idea. We found an improperly-grounded HVAC airhandling unit that was wiping out the signal in a classroom just 20′ from the wireless array. Then, with people bringing in portable hotspots (or using their phones as such), the 2.4 GHz spectrum can get quite noisy…so we’re careful to only purchase equipment that can also operate in the 5 GHz spectrum.

    2. Have you considered that perhaps, the iDevices don’t quite have the physical capacity to have as robust a wireless system as the other devices (laptops, I presume)? While the iDevices may require you to strengthen your wireless array, the benefit is that the students get to have a better learning experience. Seems a fair trade off to me. Your wishing that Apple’s devices be different wold require a larger form factor – and that ain’t never ever gonna happen.

      1. I’m only comparing Apple’s iDevices with other handhelds (Xoom, Galaxy Tab, HTC phones, etc.). I definitely concur – the benefits to having handhelds in a classroom are tangible and worthwhile, and it’s not a huge problem (at least, not in a technical sense) to modify the wireless infrastructure.

        However, there are times when simply reconfiguring channels and/or modifying array placement won’t do the job. We might have to add another new enterprise-grade wireless array (we’re not talking Linksys devices here), run new GigE lines to the location, perhaps add switch capacity in the wiring closet, etc. It’s not always just a simple “throw more wireless” at the problem to solve it.

        That said, I absolutely prefer the iDevices to anything else out there (I have an all-Apple network at home) and continue to make all reasonable modifications to the network to make sure the iDevices work as well as possible.

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