Blog

Apple iPad vs. Google Nexus in Education

4021730212 14c6cfc573 B

It has been but a few hours since ripping open the Google Nexus tablet and

Google Tablet Google Apps

  • It is fast, light, and intuitive.
  • The touch interface is responsive and smooth.
  • The resolution and performance are exceptional.
  • And yes, the 7 inch screen provides a great experience, brings an impressive phone-like mobility, and offers great comfort in multiple positions.

In other words, it lives up to the many reviews touting the device as a homerun as hardware.

So the question is what about education.

iPad versus Nexus

This is obviously the question many are asking because the iPad is the de facto choice for many schools. And the reality is that the hardware, specs, and price make the Nexus a viable, perhaps the better, option if only looking from that perspective.

But it is more complex than this if we believe a device choice is more than hardware and specs. And we know it is more complex than this even if it is merely a device choice because many schools see Apple as more viable as an educational partnership.

So the more focused question is Apple education focus and Google education focus. While the Google Apps for Education suite shows a tremendous commitment to education, Google’s education focus with the Nexus and the ecosystem wrapped around it is nowhere near Apple’s heavy education focus with the iPad and the ecosystem wrapped around it.

And even though it is early and Apple wasn’t there when the iPad 1 launched, Google doesn’t have the luxury of time to decide if the Nexus is something they want to push into the education market. Google either does or doesn’t. The time is now.

Google Tablet Apps

If Google does, they need to begin wrapping their ecosystem around this device:

  1. Education focus in the Play store
  2. iBook-esq opportunities to make textbooks feasible on the device (edit: for clarity, I mentioned iBooks simply as an example of textbooks on a tablet. I don’t want the iBook world but a feasible way to utilize publisher textbooks on the Nexus even though my stance remains on textbooks)
  3. Google+ for K-12 given how integrated Plus is on the device
  4. OpenClass integration on the device and continued progress with the platform
  5. Google Apps for Education fully integrated with full creation, collaboration, and connection functionality – an unmatched suite!
  6. Management console integration of tablet — this enterprise level move would showcase the serious focus on education
  7. Developer and internal push to create educational and education useful Android apps that promote creation, active consumption, and innovation on this device.
  8. Google Play Books that is built for active reading, sharing, and Google Apps for Education integration.

And if Google does this or at least provides a committed roadmap to schools that shows their educational direction for learning, the partnership with schools would grow exponentially. Simply put, it would have far greater potential for learning than anything out there at least from a secondary and perhaps middle school level.

The potential is there with this device. While not without flaws, it is exceptional! The question now is whether Google will put a focus on education, learning, and teaching with this device and their ecosystem.

But then again…

I could bundle a Samsung 5 Chromebook (350)and a Nexus 7 8GB (200) for the price of an iPad 3 (500 plus keyboard). Now that is something for schools to think about when talking about the device(s) that meet the vision for learning and teaching. Yep… I love that idea and the possibilities.

Image: Jelly Beans!, a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial No-Derivative-Works (2.0) image from goobi’s photostream

  1. Rusty Meyners07-18-2012

    You make great points and fairly – no, make that “moderately” – balanced observations, so please pardon me if my comments are mostly aimed where I take issue. The title pits the new device against the entrenched incumbent but the blog instead plays it against the clock and almost immediately declares time has run out. I like MOST of your 8 point list but mainly as areas of promise still in the process of fulfillment, rather than deficits when stacked up against iPad.

    Number Two on your list, however, triggers a gag reflex (“iBook-esq”, REALLY?). If you didn’t have second thoughts about that point shortly after clicking “Submit”, please tell me how textbooks are NOT feasible on the device and why-oh-why it should aspire to proprietary iBook-esq-ness which would only close and lock down (or out) the intrinsic opportunities (not to mention inspire more lawsuits).

    • ryanbretag07-18-2012

      Rusty:

      You are correct about iBooks. My point was a legitimate textbook option that would allow textbooks to be a viable experience on the device.

      My belief on the iBooks is near yours and textbooks as a whole.

      Thanks for pointing out the lack of clarity.

  2. Rusty Meyners07-18-2012

    Ryan, thanks for sharing your experiences with the new device and for not seeing my reply as too negative. I would really be interested in your thoughts on CK12.org and how Nexus 7 fares as a vehicle for Flexbooks. It’s not really my area of responsibility or expertise but even as an Android fan, I have zero interest in an Android-only textbook solution.
    I was not aware I wasn’t already following you on Twitter but have corrected that and am looking forward to your updates on these things.

    • ryanbretag07-18-2012

      @Rusty:

      I’m exploring it right now and will let you know.

      As for the Android-only solution, I understand but Google removed Flash from the product so this restricts our previously accessible online textbooks. My hope is that there is a way to make the publications from major publishers a viable option as many districts, for better or worse, are still reliant upon these if for nothing more than a resource.

  3. Bruce07-19-2012

    “I could bundle a Samsung 5 Chromebook (350)and a Nexus 7 8GB (200) for the price of an iPad 3 (500 plus keyboard)”
    An iPad 2 would save you $100.00.
    Interesting comment about the need for flash in education. That is unfortunate. Outside of education I do think an ARM Android notebook has promise.
    You are aware of Calibre app for Mac and Windows? Combined with apps like Stanza on iPad or FBReader for Android you have a more open ebook ecosystem.

  4. Rupert Rawnsley07-21-2012

    We are filling some of the gaps you have identified in the Android ecosystem for education with LearnPad (http://learnpad.co).

    Regarding point [6]: We have an enterprise-like management system that allows teachers to put exactly the content they want on every tablet with a simple drag-and-drop interface. The only people who have to touch the tablets are the children.

    I would love to say it works really well on the Nexus 7, but I managed to send mine to the wrong address! I actually think a 10″ device suits primary school kids better, but we have been investigating 7″ devices for secondary level for a while now and the Nexus 7 is best-in-class.

    Flash is a massive issue for schools here in the UK: almost 80% of the digital content of lesson plans is Flash-based at primary level. Putting curriculum aligned content straight into the hands of children is a really exciting development.

  5. Kyle Tuck07-23-2012

    I am curious exactly what you consider Apple’s “focus on education”. I have not seen any such focus outside of educational pricing (that doesn’t apply to the iPad), an education category in the App Store, and a publisher-driven, publisher-friendly iBooks app. Most educational solutions for the iPad have come from 3rd parties and teacher work-arounds. In fact, Apple has done very little to help with class- or school-wide iPad implementations because, in their eyes, the iPad is a personal device not designed to play well with others (much like how Apple operates as a company).

    To say that “many schools see Apple as more viable as an educational partnership” means that you have never actually tried to work with Apple in a partnership. Apple does not believe in partnerships. They believe in selling you what they make, and if you find an Apple product with a shortcoming, well… you’re holding it wrong.

    I am not trying to argue that Google is better, but I will absolutely argue that Google doesn’t have nearly as much ground to make up as you believe.

    • ryanbretag07-23-2012

      @Kyle
      Thanks for the thoughts. Beyond the assumption that I’ve never worked with Apple in partnership, I appreciate the points.

      To your actual points, I see it as perception. Whether or not it is true, there is a considerable perception about Apple. Yes, there are those that see it like you do, but there are many that see Apple as being a more established company with strong ties to education. Again, perception is reality here and the amount of “how dare I”, “Apple is (fill in the blank with your positive flavor)”, and “you suck” attacks about this post that some feel is anti-Apple (which is neither for or against), I’d say that perception lives on.

      And, this perception grows stronger with increased/enhanced marketing from Apple strategically targeted at education. Again, the rise of Apple with the iDevices has created another loyal following to go along with the fanboys/girls that have long been there. This personal view on devices has crossed into the enterprise world, and it has strong influence. Just take a look at any session at tech conferences that have Apps, Apple, or iDevices in the title/description.

      The flock is large and the perception about Apple for many is clear (though I haven’t surveyed the world hahaha)

      Thinking about your last line, I actually think Google can close the gap (however wide or narrow) quickly but the question remains will they. My list is to all encompassing but I believe these would close that gap rapidly.

  6. Neil Mercer09-09-2012

    I agree that Apple is not as education friendly as they like to make out. I work in a special school in the UK, and we have a few ipads. Apple’s T&Cs state that schools must buy one copy of each app for each device it will be used on (this is different to home where you can buy and app and stick it on all your devices). However, at the moment, each itunes account can only buy each app once, so to stay within the law schools effectively need to have a different itunes account for each device. There is a volume purchasing system, but this is not available in the UK yet. For this reason (amongst others), ipads are actually very difficult to manage effectively in schools. Lots of schools are buying ipads without really knowing what to do with them or how to do it. I’m not anti-apple, ipads can be fantastic in the classroom, but you have to be clever with them.

    I’m waiting to trial a Learnpad, which do seem much more set up to schools. The Nexus 7 has real potential, especially seeing as it’s half the cost of an ipad. There are quite a few apps on the Apple store which I would really love to see ported across to Android, things like prologue2go, puppetpals, imotion, android versions of imovie and garageband. I really hope more educational app developers start to take the android market seriously.

  7. Gene Tognetti11-04-2012

    I enjoyed reading your article and the responses. Glad to see I’m not alone in thinking that ipad is not the ‘only’ solution for education. Was wondering about two things. First, do you believe there is any indication Google is moving in the direction you suggested with your 8 ecosystem recommendations? For instance, I’m amazed how unfocused the Play store is regarding education – I think they recently added one extra layer under “education” with 4 or 5 sub-categories, but it’s still pretty hard to find the good stuff. Question two, we always here that Google must be ‘so envious’ of the massive number of iDevice apps (now upwards of a billion, it seems), but has anyone in education (with any credibility) evaluated what is really available on Android vs Apple in categories important to students? In other words, what IS the closest Andoid app to iMovie, GarageBand, and so on? It seems not a particularly good measure to say that Apple has ‘a billion’ or whatever apps, if most of those are useless, poorly made games and such. Your thoughts appreciated! Thanks again for the article!

    • ryanbretag11-04-2012

      Hi Gene:

      Thanks for the feedback.

      1. I don’t. It seems they want to but it appears the focus is on the Chromebooks more than the Android device. I could be wrong, but this is what I see at least at this point. I hold out hope because I think Apple was the same way with the iPad when it first arrived on the scene. The user drove the need (many would disagree, I’m sure).
      2. This is a great point and I can tell you my frustration level with the education community continues to grow. They will sit there and recommend apps, iDevices, and accessories. When asked “are there alternatives?”, I get looks of disgust. This should have driven me to do as you suggested. It would be a great move to at least give a realistic comparison. Great suggestion!

  8. Jack West12-01-2012

    “I could bundle a Samsung 5 Chromebook (350)and a Nexus 7 8GB (200) for the price of an iPad 3 (500 plus keyboard).”

    Bingo. This is what I was hearing at the GAFE Summit New England. Forget about one to one, let’s talk two to one.

  9. Jack West12-01-2012

    Whoa! Just heard that Google is threatening a Chromebook touch release before the end of the year!
    http://www.eweek.com/pc-hardware/google-to-offer-google-branded-touch-screen-chromebook-report/

  10. Jimmy01-16-2013

    Hi, I’m a principal of a small k-8 school (115 students) and was looking to purchase a set (or 2) of devices for my Primary and Elem students. I am torn between the new google device and the ipad. since the original posting, has Google made improvements???

    • ryanbretag01-16-2013

      Hi Jim:

      Yes, there are a number of improvements to this list since I posted it: a plus means it has improved and an equal means status quo. You’ll noticed a lot of + signs but these vary by the degree to which they’ve improved. However, it is a great sign!

      + 1. Education focus in the Play store
      + (Kno app but nothing direct from Google) 2. iBook-esq opportunities to make textbooks feasible on the device (edit: for clarity, I mentioned iBooks simply as an example of textbooks on a tablet. I don’t want the iBook world but a feasible way to utilize publisher textbooks on the Nexus even though my stance remains on textbooks)
      + 3. Google+ for K-12 given how integrated Plus is on the device
      + 4. OpenClass integration on the device and continued progress with the platform
      + 5. Google Apps for Education fully integrated with full creation, collaboration, and connection functionality – an unmatched suite!
      = 6. Management console integration of tablet — this enterprise level move would showcase the serious focus on education
      = 7. Developer and internal push to create educational and education useful Android apps that promote creation, active consumption, and innovation on this device.
      + 8. Google Play Books that is built for active reading, sharing, and Google Apps for Education integration.

  11. alistair fitchett02-11-2013

    I’m not convinced that the Google education ecosystem is anywhere near as developed as Apple’s, but then I’m a long term Apple user so I guess I would say that! My biggest concern with the Google option is that the Nexus 7 just doesn’t have enough screen size to make it viable as a content creation tool. The same goes for an iPad Mini incidentally… the ‘regular’ sized iPad on the other hand is, I think, much better suited to that dual role. And I really do think that the role of the personal mobile device in an education context needs to embrace students’ creation of learning content as well as consumption… so this factor is crucial.

    I guess the TWO devices for every student solution would address that issue, but I really don’t buy it . The idea of carrying two different devices around for the whole school day kind of negates the idea of a personal mobile device. For me, at least :) Plus the Chromebooks’ dependence on Internet connection rings alarm bells for me – particularly after a day without web access from school thanks to a failure from our service provider!

    My own thoughts on the iOS vs Android in eduction debate are on my own blog if you are interested http://bit.ly/11Bc2n0 Please do correct any of my points in that post :)

    • ryanbretag02-11-2013

      Hi Alistair:

      Thanks for the comments and I understand the Apple bias – I have it, too ;-)

      That said, let’s breakdown a few of your points:

      1. Two Devices: How many devices do you carry with you? How many devices on average do your colleagues carry? In secondary/highschool/upperschool, how many devices are students carrying? In other words, the notion of a multiple device role is not far from the equation. My pushback in other words is that the single personal mobile device is not the reality we live presently. In the future, I’m sure we’d all like that one device but I haven’t found it. This includes the iPad, IMHO.
      2. Nexus 7 Screen Size: I don’t disagree with you here and I’ll see from our pilot experience whether or not the students agree. Interestingly, the creation on the iPad was also an issue for our students especially in a web-based world. And this is where the philosophies usually differ: web-based vs app-based.
      3. Chromebook Offline: This is perhaps one of the greatest misnomers with the Chromebook and I’m not sure how this continues to be pushed as truth. I can only think it stems from the first iteration of the Chromebook. For that, I caution anyone that is a long term Apple user to withhold judgement and remember the first iPad. Back on track :-), there are core piece available offline and the device is not unusable.
      4. iOS vs Android: My position remains that Google can not currently compete with the iOS market. To be honest, I fully believe the Nexus 7 is a better device than the iPad Mini (haven’t seen the Nexus 10 so can’t compare). However, we all know that hardware is much different than full ecosystem. In that regard, Apple’s iOS is stronger not because of Apple (I’ll take Google Apps over Apple apps every day of the week) but because of the developers consistently focusing first (and often only) on developing iOS apps. Given the huge buy-in by educators and schools for Apple, this gap will only widen.

      Overall, there are different philosophies governing the choice between an iPad, a Nexus, and a Chrombook. Schools have to determine their vision and direction in order to see with any clarity the direction. If you are an Apple house already, the decision is pretty easy. If you are a Windows house already, the decision is pretty easy (ugh… blah…). If you are a device agnostic, Internet-based environment, the decision isn’t easy but lends itself greatly one way.
      :-)

Leave a Reply