Tablets vs NotebooksAdministrators often get caught up in chasing the latest fad in educational technology. Tech advocates love technology, and sometimes I think we’re too quick to embrace the next big thing – and we forget to step back and think about just what tool is right for the job we’re doing.

From the National Educational Technology Plan (2010):

Because an infrastructure for learning should support learning in and out of the classroom, students and educators need Internet access devices for around-the-clock use from any location.

There’s a growing consensus that need access to some kind of mobile computing device, and schools may have to provide them if families don’t. The trend, lately, has been to adopt iPads and tablets. But whatever happened to netbooks?

My next research project aims to answer this question – are tablets or netbooks better for a high school’s one to one program? More specifically, do students find Samsung Chromebooks or Samsung Galaxy Tabs to be more convenient, useful, and usable?

How You Can Stay Up to Date

I think this project is pretty exciting. There’s little hard data out there to help an administrator decide on which device to use when rolling out a new one to one program. Each has its advantages, but it would be really helpful to talk to students who’ve actually had a chance to use both devices.

If you want to stay up to date on my research and findings, use the button below to subscribe. You’ll receive a handful of e-mails each month about the status of this research project and other things going on around here at Tech and Teaching.

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I’ll be posting regular updates on this blog as well, and any posts related to this project will be tagged “ChromeVsTab.” Bookmark that, or subscribe to the RSS feed to keep up to date with all the new posts here at Tech and Teaching.

Finally, I will also be editing this post to include links to other important posts and updates about the research project.

And I Need Your Help…

Unfortunately, this kind of research isn’t free – or cheap. While I have applied for some funding from Rutgers, I’ll need another source of funding as well. In the next couple of weeks, I’ll be setting up a crowdfunding project at Indie Gogo to raise that money.

What do I need help with? Spreading the word.

If you think the project sounds cool and you want to lend a helping hand, it would be awesome and extremely helpful if you could share this post and/or the IndieGogo project with your social networks. Tweet it, Plus it, Facebook it.

A Quick Rundown on the Project

The methodology is fairly simple. Give students a Tab for four weeks. Collect data about usage and interview them. Swap out for a Chromebook for four weeks. More data, more interviews. Have kids write and reflect on the devices’ strengths and weaknesses. Analyze gobs of data.

The sample will be a small class of high school seniors taking AP United States Government and Politics. They already have Galaxy Tabs through a one to one initiative at my high school, so the funding will be used to purchase Chromebooks for this project and for subsequent research projects.

I have a hunch that each device has certain benefits unique to its interface and design. In design parlance, these are “affordances.” They make it natural to do things; and some things are more natural to do on a Tab than a Chromebook and vice versa. The trick is to figure out which affordances actually matter in the context of your school.

Recent Related Posts and Updates

Here’s a list of major posts I’ve made related to the research project. If you want a complete up to date list, browse the tag “ChromeVsTab.”