Monday, June 18, 2012

iPads in K: Durability and Cost

Recently I was asked to speak on the podcast EduMatters about using technology (primarily we talked about iPads) in my classroom.  One of the questions by the producers asked about the cost of iPads and whether it was a good use of funds.  I wanted to share my two cents with you. 

The basic iPad + case cost our school about $530.  I assume we paid taxes, and didn't get a discount, so lets say about $600 when you factor tax and the few paid apps.  $600 is a lot of money of course.  However, since all iPads survived their 2nd year in kindergarten they will have at least a 3 year life span, the cost would end up being $200 per student.  If they make it another year, it would be less, but for now let's assume over 3 years that cost is $200 per student.  Still a lot of money right?


I did not purchase math workbooks, handwriting or reading workbooks this year (although I did use some blackline masters for reading)... instead I used mostly free apps for skill practice; savings of $40 per student for workbooks/per year ($120 over three years).   That alone would pay for the majority of the cost of iPads over the three years.  Additionally, I did not need new whiteboards, markers or erasers (I usually have to get several new boards a year, a class set every couple of years- say $4 per student, $80-100 every few years).  Sketchio is a free whiteboard app I use instead.  I didn't need new markers at all this year and I would usually go through about 6-10 boxes at approximately $5 each; Savings $30-50 per year. 

Before the class set of iPads the primary classes battled for computer lab time with the older classes and we were talking buying a new mobile lab- problem averted as now k-2 has iPads for much less than a mobile lab would have cost.  We still use the library Mac lab as I want my kids familiar with computer skills too; so we go in when it's not used by another class.

My students have been using the iPads for two years and (knock on wood) none of them have been damaged.  Some that were hand me downs are slightly damaged by the high school students who had them first.  Not to say some iPads weren't dropped occasionally, but a good cover protected them when they did fall.  I never had screen covers and other than a few small scratches the screens have been fine too.  I scratched my personal iPad within my first month of ownership (I think my diamond ring was responsible).

So, if you factor in the cost savings of the workbooks (which I always hated using anyhow) the whiteboards, and not having to purchase a lab of computers (or maintain them), the iPads are a really good deal right?   Especially when I consider the value of engagement, ease of differentiation, and incredible learning I saw the children experience over the last two years,  Certainly they are worth the investment to me, at least.  I'm curious what you think! 

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