Maine Decides to Ditch iPads for Macbooks

(Photo: Wikimedia, Creative Commons)

(Photo: Wikimedia, Creative Commons)

The Maine Department of Education has decided to replace the Apple iPads currently in use in schools with notebooks after a statewide survey determined the majority of teachers and students in the state did not want to use the tablet devices in the classroom.

The department announced it will be giving schools a “refresh” that will allow iPads to be replaced with laptops.  The move comes at no additional cost to the district.  Schools will remain with Apple products and will move from iPads to the new Apple Macbook Air laptops.

Apple originally pitched the idea of using iPads for educational aids to schools after its release in 2010.  The tablet, which brings access to textbooks and increased communication to teachers, was offered to students at every grade level, reports Don Reisinger for Fortune.

Despite the recent decision in Maine to abandon the devices, Apple has been touting the value of using the iPad for several years.

In 2011, analyst Piper Jaffray found 100% of schools he analyzed throughout the United States were at least testing the iPad.  In addition, one in every five school tech directors said that each of their students should have an iPad in-hand by 2016.

A 2012 study of iPad usage among 266 kindergarten students in Auburn, Maine found an increase in the literacy scores of those students who used the devices.  Study results showed an increase on every literacy test among students who used iPads when compared to those who did not.

Apple CEO Tim Cook noted in 2014 that the company would be delivering a variety of products to classrooms across 29 states.  The company also pledged $100 million to help disadvantaged students in January 2014 as part of President Barack Obama’s ConnectED program.

The iPad has received harsh feedback lately, with Maine’s decision being the latest.  Although Cook continues to put his belief into the product, demand for the product continues to shrink.

A number of surveys performed on iPad usage among students and teachers between seventh and twelfth grade in the state allowed Maine to come to its decision.  The results were highest in Auburn, where 88.5% of teachers and 74% of students said the devices should be replaced with notebooks.  One teacher commented that many of the students were using the iPads as “toys” and that the devices have “no educational function in the classroom.”  The teacher also went on to discuss her concerns over the device’s capabilities when it came to word processing.

The students appeared to agree, with many of them saying they used iPads to play games but that the tablets were not conducive to classroom work.

According to the report, lower prices offered by Apple on its computers paved the way for the refresh to take place.  Mike Muir, head of learning and technology initiatives in Maine, noted that the company was charging $217 per year per student for the 2016-17 school year for each device.  Once that time is up, the education board would be charged $248 per student per year.

A similar decision was previously made by the Los Angeles Unified School District, who eventually replaced the majority of their iPads with Windows and Chrome OS-based laptops and convertibles at a cheaper price, reports Brandon Hill for Hot Hardware.

Kristin Decarr

Kristin Decarr

Kristin Decarr

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