Most Schools Testing iPads, Rate Device Management As Biggest Hurdle

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Most schools are testing, if to yet deploying, iPads
Most schools are testing, if to yet deploying, iPads

There are plenty of stories out there about schools that have already launched large-scale iPad programs or that are considering them for next year. Many U.S. school districts have yet to determine an iPad strategy, however, and are still moving forward cautiously.

In a small survey of public school IT managers, research firm Piper Jaffray identified the iPad as a new technology being tested by the majority of public schools. The survey also offered insights into the the pros and cons that school IT managers are weighing when it comes the iPad and some competing technologies.

The survey, highlighted by All Things D, consisted  of 18 IT managers and shows that 78% are testing the iPad – some of those are also testing Google Chromebooks. Only six percent were testing Android tablets.

When it comes to the iPad, the biggest challenge is device management. That’s not really a surprise given that mobile management is a big issue for schools as well as businesses. Beyond management, the big concerns were cost, the inability to play Flash content, and the lack of a physical keyboard – all ranked equally as potential issues. A more limited concern was the iPad delivering less functionality compared to a Mac or PC.

When it comes to advantages, the ability to customize the iPad experience and its flexibility were at the top of the list. Other pros that were identified include easy access to information, iBooks Author (presumably for the ability to create custom content), cost compared to a Mac or PC, and additional benefits simply identified as “other.”

The study also identified reliance on web access and software limitations as the biggest challenges for schools considering Chromebooks. Advantages to Chromebooks over the iPad include simplified device management (the biggest advantage), cost compared to a Mac or PC, and the inclusion of a keyboard.