I started this conversation via Twitter with @DimitrisTzouris and realized that I needed more than 140 characters.
So, here’s my answer to Dimitris…
My one frustration with “touch screens” that do not have real inking capabilities is that they are essentially just acting like big trackpads. I think that there is tremendous value in students being able to have the kinetic ability to draw, handwrite, and highlight. Whether you choose an iPad or a Windows tablet/convertible, I think there is a huge value in being able to actually ink on a screen. Chromebooks are great, but a current limitation (I realize this could change tomorrow) is the lack of ability to easily ink.
- Students need to be able to write out math problems/science equations. Typing is pretty inefficient.
- Many students learn more effectively when they have the option to hand-write their notes and ideas. I can speak to this personally, as I handwrite when I need to synthesize and comprehend as it slows down my brain. Typing is too fast.
- A lot of students engage more deeply with text when they can make a physical highlighting motion to annotate text as well as “write” in the margins with either physical or digital ink.
- Think about the ability to differentiate. How about the students that may learn best by sketchnoting, mapping, or drawing out their thoughts.
If you are at the beginnings of making a choice, it may be worthwhile to do a needs assessment to figure out what device might best support all of your learners. I like having the option of being able to use text and ink. There’s also amazing benefits to having a front and rear facing camera (also available on most tablet/convertible devices). So, that’s the long reason for why I like a stylus if given the choice.
Though slightly off topic, one last question to consider: what do you want student learning to look like once they have these devices?