I teach in a 1:1 iPad classroom, and I asked to pilot 1:1 Chromebooks for the next school year.
Truthfully, it wasn't an easy choice to make. Secretly, I tried to squelch my nagging desire to do more with my students. After all, I loved teaching with iPads, and I'm proud of all the work, creativity, and fun that came out of using them. Besides, iPads are cool.
But I had to be truthful. I had to be creative to use the iPad as a creation tool, and I had to find workarounds. And there were things my students just couldn't do on them.
I teach four classes of 8th grade ELA, and in my classroom, I heavily emphasize writing, analysis, and critical thinking. A keyboard obviously would've been nice, especially since my students pounded out over 2,600 blog posts over the course of six months alone (in addition to the essays, responses, and online discussions they write for me). Many of my students cite the lack of a keyboard as a shortcoming, but my school couldn't justify this additional expense, seeing that thousands of dollars have already been spent to build our iPad carts.
Also, I wanted my students to fully utilize all the features of Google Docs - annotating text, commenting, and all the social and collaborative aspect that makes Google Docs - Google Docs. But these features weren't available on the iPad. (Note: some months after the writing of this post, the Google Drive app has been updated to include the ability to add comments. However, this iPad version is still lacking when compared to its full web capability.)
Additionally, I'd like my students to create Google Slides, which isn't possible so I had to resort to using other apps. Then, I had to teach them how to export their work in order to import it to a LMS or a Dropbox folder. Export work just to import it again? It seems silly to me...and an efficient use of instructional minutes.
I also wanted my students to create content on Glogster, Nanoogo, Storybird, GoAnimate, and many of the myriad of apps out there that don't work on the iPad. (Read my blog post on "Using GoAnimate to Fight Bullying" on how we used this great video animation tool in the classroom.)
I can see iPads, with its learning apps, having a greater role in the elementary classroom, and though there are also some great apps for the secondary classroom, it's still a device designed to consume content rather than to create it.
For secondary students, this isn't enough - not for a rigorously, academic curriculum called for by the Common Core. I've always believed that writing should be a shared, cross-curricular responsibility, and using Google Docs with its full potential is better suited to meet this essential need.
Can students fully utilize Google's core productivity apps with the iPad the way they can on a computer/laptop/netbook? No. That's why I wanted to bring Chromebooks into my classroom. But will my students still use iPads? Absolutely.
Luckily for me, my current iPad cart will become available for checkout, and I'll book it when I want my students to create digital media projects - on iMovie, Audioboo, Zoodle Comics, and J&C's PhotoStory to name a few. (Read my blog post on "How to Use Zoodle Comics in the Classroom" for ideas.) However, for every day use, I plan to fully utilize Google Apps for Education on the Chromebooks, the way it was meant to be used.