Apple Offers to Replace iPads With MacBooks in Maine State Classrooms
Apple and the Maine Department of Education have offered to swap school iPads for MacBooks at no additional cost, after it emerged that students and teachers overwhelmingly favor the use of laptops in class.
According to a report in the Lewiston-Auburn Sun Journal, schools in Auburn and other districts in Maine are set to benefit from the "Refresh" swap, following surveys of students and teachers across grades 7 through 12, which revealed that 88.5 percent of teachers and 74 percent of students preferred laptops over iPads.
iPads were perceived to have poor educational value in the classroom and were often used to play games in class, while laptops allowed students better opportunities for school work. The preference gap widened even more when it came to older students, who saw laptops as better devices for coding and programming tasks.
"The results are pretty darn clear," said Auburn School Department Technology Director Peter Robinson, who conducted the survey. "The findings made the decision for us." Robinson said that three years ago, after seeing success with iPads in primary grades, he thought iPads were absolutely the right choice, but now he realized iPads have shortcomings for older students.
One teacher wrote in the survey that iPads "provide no educational function in the classroom. Students use them as toys. Word processing is near to impossible. I applaud this change."
"The iPads are largely students' gaming devices," another teacher wrote, while one called their introduction into the classroom "a disaster".
As part of the state's "Refresh" swap offer, Auburn's iPads are being returned and 1,718 laptops will be delivered in the fall to Edward Little High School and Auburn Middle School.
The state "underestimated how different an iPad is from a laptop," said Maine Learning and Technology Initiative Director Mike Muir. "Student use of iPads could have been better if the Maine Department of Education encouraged more teacher training."
The offer applies to 7th and 8th-graders' computers, which are paid for by the state, and computers for high school students that some schools pay for as part of the Learning and Technology Initiative. The initiative allows up to $254 per student for a device and teacher training to help students get the most out of technology.
The cost of the new Apple laptop will be $217 per year per student for 2016-17, and $248 per year after that. In Farmington, Mt. Blue High School's technology manager Darcy Dunphy said the state's offer is "too good to refuse", because students would be getting new laptops while saving about $140,000 over four years.
"Three years ago the Apple laptop was $273 per student a year," which meant that to stay with the Apple laptop, schools would have had to pay more, Muir said. "People chose iPads. They were within what the state would fund."
Apple has been working on overhauling its iPad in Education program since 2015. With iOS 9.3, Apple introduced a number of new features that are specifically geared towards the education market. Outlined on a new Education Preview site, education-oriented features in the iOS 9 beta include shared iPads for students, a new classroom app, an Apple School Manager feature, and an improved Managed Apple IDs function.