ONCE hailed as the poster child of digital interactive learning, tablets are falling increasingly out of favour in NSW schools after being found to be less practical than laptops.
Both private and public schools have moved towards “bring your own device” (BYOD) policies and when parents and children have been asked to choose, laptops have been the overwhelming favourite.
However, Nowra Primary School teacher Shane McMillan takes a different-tools-for-different-jobs approach.
“We have about 40 laptops and about 60 iPads in the school and my students are using laptops for at least one hour a day,” he said.
“In my experience it’s what is most suited to the task. If a student wants to go out and take photos an iPad is going to be better than a laptop.
“But for answering questions online, the laptop is easier to use.
“It’s not one-size-fits-all and it’s not laptop versus iPad, it’s about what technology is right for the job,” he said.
Josh Janszen from year 4 prefers laptops over tablets.
“Laptops are faster. We have a laptop at home,” he said.
Fellow student Jhorjie Pignataro said she did not have a preference.
“iPads are good because you can download games easily, but we have a laptop at home. I think they’re both good,” she said.
In February, the Education Department launched the BYOD program in NSW public schools.
“The policy gives principals the option, in consultation with their school communities, to enable students to bring their own personal mobile devices to school for the purpose of learning,” a department spokesman said.
In 2011, the department conducted a trial using iPads in three schools in the Sydney-Illawarra region.
One of the schools, Towradgi Public School, put its request in for new classroom devices on Monday. It has decided to order laptops.
However, principal Catherine Broadbridge said the school would still maintain the iPads received for the 2011 trial in its mainstream and special needs classes.
At the end of the trial, the department said it had no plans to issue iPads statewide because they did not provide the tools and functions offered by laptops.
But some schools believe the iPad is still a valuable learning resource.
Richard Ford, deputy head of learning and teaching at St Andrew’s School in Sydney, said the school still maintained iPads as the device of choice up to year 10.