Apple has geared its products towards the lucrative education sector, particularly its tablets, and even as its presence in the sector booms some schools are now looking towards laptops, particularly Chromebooks. The issue here is not so much limited to the iPad as it is confined to the tablet form factor as a whole as schools view the lack of a physical keyboard as one of the biggest shortcomings of the form factor.
The Hillsborough, New Jersey school conducted a pilot program during the 2012-2013 school year during which iPads were given to some 200 students and Chromebooks to an equal number. By the end of the school year Hillsborough sold all of its iPads now plans to distribute 4,600 Chromebooks among students by fall 2014. This decision was taken after listening to feedback from students and teachers.
Joel Handler, the school’s director of technology, said that students viewed the iPad as more of a “fun” device as opposed to viewing the Chromebooks as a “work” device. The primary reason why students and teachers both preferred the notebook was because it had a physical keyboard, and it made a more practical sense as well, since the new Common Core online test requires a keyboard. There was no negative feedback about the iPad, there’s nothing wrong with the device itself, the objective of this pilot was to find out which device met learning goals better.
Other school districts have also sidelined their iPad programs in favor of Chromebooks and Windows based notebooks, including the Los Angeles Unified School District and Fort Bend in Houston, Texas. On the other hand Apple touts its success in the education market, claiming that iPads account for 90 percent of all tablets in the education sector.