#Edutechdebate: Tablets vs. Smart Phones in Education

Which is best? A smart phone or a tablet?
Which is best? A smart phone or a tablet? If you’re planning for a lesson and wondering whether or not to book your school’s iPad set, then this list might give you some food for thought.

Should you book your school’s iPad set for that excellent lesson you’ve planned, or should you just get the kids to use their smart phones? Some things to think about:

  • Tablets do provide a larger screen and greater accessibility to some programs and simulations, and this is a big advantage for students who like large text and who have issues with manual dexterity
  • Always test the software first: Unfortunately, many programs and simulations that work on a Windows™ PC do not function properly on tablets and smart phones that use other operating systems. It’s really embarrassing and frustrating to set a wonderful ICT-based learning task only to discover that it isn’t compatible with the kids’ devices.
  • If you’re planning on getting students to submit docs, PowerPoints or pdf files through Dropbox, or if you want students to download a file of this type, then tablets are typically better than smart phones. The larger screen means that more readable text can be displayed on the screen, and this also makes it much easier to edit files.
  • Cost is an important factor when considering ICT orders in schools. Tablets generally cost two to three times less than their smart phone counterparts, and often allow for greater functionality. The other advantage is that school tablets will have been set up consistently by an ICT administrator, and will often not have SIM cards that connect them to a cellular network. This means that kids are much less likely to be playing around on social media when using school tablets, since sites like Facebook™, Instagram™ and others are much more difficult to access without their corresponding apps. Schools can also put controls in place to prevent access to such platforms.
  • One downside of tablets is that they can be slow, especially if multiple students are using them to access the internet via the school’s Wi-Fi system all at the same time. Smartphones can offer a quicker alternative in these cases.
  • Students are much more likely to share school tablets with each other, rather than sharing their highly personalized smart phones with their peers. This has obvious ramifications for group work
  • One big advantage of tablets is that their battery life tends to be much longer than that of smart phones. Your school’s set should also be regularly charged by the ICT administrator.