Should your students have laptops or tablets as their main tool?

Feb 19, 2013
Wayne D’Orio, Editor of Scholastic Administrator Magazine, shares the pros and cons of students using laptops and tablets. Every once in a while, a decision of great import presents itself, forcing you to stop to consider the long-range impact of what you are about to do (English or PreMed? Blonde or Brunette? Moving from teacher to administrator?). Today is another day that you will remember, hopefully fondly, as you look back in years to come. The choice, simply put, is should your students have laptops or tablets as their main tool? Sure, in your office right now, you probably have both (along with at least one smartphone), but if you are lucky enough to be able to fund a one-to-one solution for your students, your choice will come down to these two machines. As you’ve already figured out, there is no right answer, but there certainly can be a wrong one for your district and students. Luckily for you, we rounded up two school technology experts to help you decide. Gary Stager, laptop pioneer, argues eloquently for a full-featured laptop, while Roslyn, Long Island, Superintendent Dan Brenner explains why tablets work best in his schools. “Computing, the act of using a computer to make things— programs, novels, art, video, robots—is the game changer,” says Stager. While he too marvels at the convenience of tablets, the shortcomings are too much to overcome, he adds. “The most powerful form of computing, programming, is verboten. Robotics is impossible. Film making is theoretically possible, but I suggest you go first.” Undaunted, Brenner fires back. His district’s early use of iPads in high school has helped take textbooks out of their curriculum (and backpacks), create paperless classrooms, and empower his students to be active learners who create while they learn. Intrigued? Read the full argument from both sides at here, and by all means, let us know what you choose.