back to article Apple, if you want to win in education, look at what sucks about iPads

For us crazed weirdos who work in education – that's primary schools for me – I'll admit it was mildly encouraging to find our world was the main thrust of an Apple event this week. The updated, marginally cheaper iPad with pencil support isn't about to set hearts ablaze, but the mostly stable and reliable environment of iOS …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    An interesting insight into that sector for when the neighbours' kids' 5-11 school is asking me for donations towards classroom iPads.

    In IT the time-consuming problem of "keeping many plates spinning" has been true for decades in both development and support. Mass production is cheap - individual customisation is always eventually expensive somewhere along the line.

    1. AMBxx Silver badge

      The irony being that the bit that Apple get so badly wrong is the only bit that Microsoft seem to be able to get right!

    2. Shadow Systems

      At the AC...

      My son is a teacher in a K~6th grade school. He has said that "We've only got so much in the budget for the year. If it boils down to buying supplies for the students or paying for the massive IT required to admin all those devices, the devices lose every time."

      I don't blame his school for not wanting to go down that rabbit hole - it's an expensive & time consuming nightmare. I don't blame him for not wanting to deal with the devices either - 45 students per class times 6 classes per day equals 270 devices per teacher times all the teachers in school. That's a hell of a lot of time trying to figure out WTF just went titsup on little Johnny's or petite Penelope's device. Since he's not qualified to do the work (he's got a teaching degree in multiple subjects but technology isn't one) so he has to call the school's IT department. That's *one man* to handle all the thousands of devices on campus. Want to guess how long it takes for him to get to any one trouble ticket? Hint: a hell of a lot longer than the class length where the problem resides. So instead of using the device to help teach a lesson, he's forced to set them aside & go back to paper & pencil. Eventually it gets to the point where there's no point in reaching for the device in the first place, just use the old fashioned tried & true methods & Get Shit Done.

      So yes, schools that can't afford to administer the tech, teachers that can't get problems solved in any reasonable amount of time, students with the attention span of goldfish & the inability to sit still, all combines into a situation where the teachers just throw their hands up, ignore the devices, & fall back on the stuff That Just Works.

      Can you blame them? It costs money to buy, configure, admin, repair, & maintain all those shiny bits, money that can be better spent on Getting Shit Done instead of fattening the already buldging pockets of some corporate exec whom wants to make his company look as if it's thinking of the children.

      *Shakes head & sighs*

      1. Snorlax Silver badge

        Re: At the AC...

        @Shadow Systems:"My son is a teacher in a K~6th grade school. He has said that "We've only got so much in the budget for the year. If it boils down to buying supplies for the students or paying for the massive IT required to admin all those devices, the devices lose every time."

        ...I don't blame him for not wanting to deal with the devices either - 45 students per class..."

        45 students per class? I see where the budget problem lies, and I hate to tell you it's not IT. Your son's school has more fundamental problems.

        1. Shadow Systems

          At Snorlax...

          45 students per teacher per class is nothing. There are some with 50 or more per class, depending on the subject.

          It's not the school's fault for overcrowding classes, it's the government's fault for underfunding schools to the point where they *have to* in order to make what budgetary money they get make ends meet.

          His school recently had to stop serving breakfast to the students. They didn't want to do it, they just couldn't afford the extra expenses any longer. They applied for more money to cover the costs, but the grant request got turned down & the money just wasn't there. So kiss one meal a day offered to students, many of whom relied on it because they're too poor themselves to afford it from home, that the school can no longer offer. If the money ever comes back & they can afford to offer it, then breakfasts will be back on the table. But in the mean time, it's either cancel breakfasts or fire a teacher or two. Oh wait, firing a teacher would increase the overcrowding problem & exacerbate the issue. So kiss breakfast goodbye.

          I used to work at his school back when he was still a student at it. Back then they could afford to pay me to be a Yard Duty & Crossing Guard, & I volunteered to be their Computer Lab guy. Fast forward a few years, he graduates & the budget isn't there any more for my services. So I stick around volunteering to be the Computer Lab guy, but they can't afford to pay for the Yard Duty nor Crossing Guard. Budget solution is to get an already overworked teacher to do those jobs (in addition to everything else), & hope said teacher doesn't burn ou- whoops, one stroke later & that person is now on permanent disability, no longer teaching, & all the load they had been shouldering left for everyone else to make up & take up the slack.

          Want to take a wild ass guess what their tech budget looks like? Here's a hint. That "Computer Lab" was filled with Packard Bell Windows 95 machines using 10-base-T. I had to pay out of my own pocket to upgrade them all to ethernet networking cards so I could switch them to CAT5. When I left they were still on Win95, but another student's parent was in the process to get Intel to donate a bunch of new computers running Win XP! I don't know if that ever came to pass, merely that last year I ran into one of his old teachers in the market & the teacher asked if I could come back to help with a computer problem.

          This is nearly two decades later & they *still* asked a blind guy to come back to help with their computer lab. Why? Because there's no budget for a full time guy. The district has a dedicated IT Admin, but that's *one man* for *the entire district*. Take a wild guess how fast any issues can get dealt with at my son's school. "Fast" is measured in geological terms.

          So before you start bashing the school for making my son handle 45 students per class, take a look at the books & realize that *only* 45 students is a luxury he enjoys because he's still just starting. The moment he gets tenure & qualifies for a full time position, it's up to 50 per class & all the headaches that budgetary shortfall entails.

          He knew from the outset that he'd never get rich being a teacher. "If I wanted to be rich I'd become a psychologist. I'm in this for the kids, Dad."

          On one hand it makes me sad that he'll probably be barely better off than some of his students, but on the other hand he makes me so proud it hurts.

          I take my hat off to teachers that do it for the kids. Those are the ones that will go out of their way to encourage & help a kid to strive & succeed.

          And that's *in spite* of the budgetary shitstorm.

          1. TRT Silver badge

            Re: At Snorlax...

            10-base-T IS twisted pair ethernet. It would have to have been installed in a fairly narrow-ish time frame to be Cat 3 UTP in order to require upgrade to Cat 5. Do you mean 10-base-2 aka Thin Ethernet, perhaps?

            1. Shadow Systems

              At TRT...

              Now I know I'm going senile. =-)p

              The stuff with the fat coax cable that didn't bend worth a damn, required the metal "T" style connectors, a connecter with a "dead" tip on one side to terminate the loop, & that was as stable as a one legged ice skater on a pogo stick.

              What I remember clearly was having to wind up all that coax cable on a big drum because it refused to bend in a classic palm-to-elbow winding strategy. Laying the CAT$x cable was an orgasm in comparison. It took longer to take out all the old networking cards, wind the coax, collect all the terminator/connectors, & put them in boxes as backup equipment, than it did to install the new cards, configure each computer, string the CAT$x cable, & make sure the network was working.

              It was ~20 years ago, I'm allowed to go insane. =-D

              1. werdsmith Silver badge

                Re: At TRT...

                10-Base 2 using coax and BNC connectors going through a t-piece and a terminator at each each end of the cable. Still used on the Space Station, so I'm told.

                I recall the building cables with them and repeater hubs, last time was before some people in our office were born.

                Then there was Token Ring and MAUs.

              2. TRT Silver badge

                Re: At TRT...

                Hey, I laid the same shit, bro. That AND 10Base-5. Even less bendy, and required vampire taps about the size of a single volume of the Encyclopaedia Britannica. That was for a cluster of Vax/VMS machines. For DECNET I believe they called it. That, too, was so long ago it has been swept into a dusty corner of my mind.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: At Snorlax...

            Err. Saying your son has bigger problems is not bashing the school.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: At the AC...

        Schools and technology...

        There are government incentives for buying new electornics for educational purposes. There is even a company here that refurbish decent business hardware into decent school devices. Alright, school board says. School board buys lots of devices. What's missing? There's only one IT guy for the whole school board.

        My class' PC has a faulty SSD for at least two years. Each day we are greeted by Windows saying the SSD's about to die. There's a 50% chance the PC won't boot each day.

        Education is the worst place for IT, simply because no one is taking it seriously there. They look at the car, not the mechanic.

    3. Mark 65

      I think that iPads work great in education for older kids who have their own personal one and use it to cart around text books and to take notes etc - more something for the private school than the state one. Same for University where you may want the texts, the multimedia, the touch/pen interaction, the battery life and the low weight. For me the typical state school use should revolve more around a computer lab with machines that run off of network images like an internet cafe such that the machines are ready to go at the start of each lesson and pretty much guaranteed to work. Storage can be quota'd on a network.

      I've always felt the "hand out the shared iPads" mentality smacked of convenience over outright practicality. Just because the kids have them at home doesn't mean they are fit for purpose in the classroom, especially once cost and budgets are considered.

  2. James 51

    I always wondered, why not get a robust ereader and use calibre server to distribute epub files? My sony ereader from 2012 has built in drop box support. I know it can't edit files but would be a good way to allow students to get a copy of the notes they can annotate.

    1. Thomas Wolf

      Because these days teaching includes animations and video, not to mention multi-media web sites - none of which work well on an eReader.

      1. James 51

        Epub3 can handle multimedia pretty well and there are apps on multiple platforms that can read them.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Ah, you're forgetting that a lot of education policy / planning is riddled with fashion and corporate greed. Google and Apple are keen on being education friendly simply because once they've snared young impressionable pupils and locked them up in their Walled Garden IT ecosystems, they're likely stuck for life. It's pretty disgraceful. Pus, it's bloody expensive for schools to buy all that kit, and pay someone to run it all.

      It's also far from clear that it actually makes a substantive difference to how well educated kids turn out to be. There's nothing less creative about using pencils, paper, paint and so forth than using a Chromebook. Audio / video is different of course, but that it. It's purely an adult perception that using a smart device is somehow better than using a pencil. It's not. Also, paper and pencil doesn't need a full time member of IT staff to administer it.

      IT is an excellent way of accessing reference material, but there's no need to force kids creativity into the narrow and proprietary confines of a Chromebook or iPad. I suspect that this happens simply because it's fashionable, and because it's convenient for educationalists to have a machine mark kid's maths homework, or spell check their essays. Plus there's the costs the education establishment has to pay to services that'll check for plagiarism in homework. At least if a kid has handwritten something there's a chance that they've read and abbreviated something else.

      Of all places, education should be a realm of open systems and open standards. Letting Google or Apple provide closed systems and proprietary standards is abhorrent. Getting kids used to using IT is important (though these days I strongly suspect they'd learn anyway at home), but nowadays using IT as a means of education seems to have become more important than the end result.

      1. Snorlax Silver badge


        @AC:"It's also far from clear that it actually makes a substantive difference to how well educated kids turn out to be. There's nothing less creative about using pencils, paper, paint and so forth than using a Chromebook. Audio / video is different of course, but that it. It's purely an adult perception that using a smart device is somehow better than using a pencil. It's not. Also, paper and pencil doesn't need a full time member of IT staff to administer it."

        Eee when I were a lad....uphill both ways to the snow...a turnip for lunch...etc

        People moan when kids are given access to tech in school.

        People also moan when kids show no interest in STEM subjects.

        There's no pleasing some people, i it would seem...

        BTW, in a lot of countries parents pay for their kids textbooks - over five years of secondary school that can add up to the same as two or three iPads. Also an iPad is a lot easier to carry than a rucksack full of books...

        Your way of thinking is outdated, Grandpa. Get with the times

        1. Paul Crawford Silver badge

          Re: @AC

          "People also moan when kids show no interest in STEM subjects"

          I doubt that arsing about with animated emojiis is going to make anyone interested in STEM.

          Taking said expensive iPads apart, now that might get some interest...

          1. Doctor_Wibble

            Re: @AC

            > Taking said expensive iPads apart, now that might get some interest...

            I like the idea but will the budget stretch to one hammer each or will they have to share?

            1. truckinnutter

              Re: @AC

              You won't need a hammer, the iPads will break just by looking at them.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: @AC

            Have you ever taken apart a modern device like an i thing or a phone, once you are done being impressed with how small it all is, there is nothing much to see. Well done you planned 1 lesson.

            If you are thinking raspberry pi then it's an extra curricular thing, since lessons (in the UK) have to follow a strict curriculum.

        2. Mike 16

          Tablets and STEM



          People moan when kids are given access to tech in school.

          People also moan when kids show no interest in STEM subjects.


          I think you have explained your own conundrum. Tablets as they are today teach primarily one thing about tech: It is unreliable and capricious, and will defeat most attempts to Get Stuff Done (tm).

          It's a miracle when a child exposed to technology only through such a device is interested in "Technology" at all. "Yeah, we realize that getting waterboarded can be unpleasant, by why have you lost interest in swimming in the Olympics?"

          1. Snorlax Silver badge

            Re: Tablets and STEM

            @Mike 16:"I think you have explained your own conundrum. Tablets as they are today teach primarily one thing about tech: It is unreliable and capricious, and will defeat most attempts to Get Stuff Done (tm)."

            No, I don't think I've explained 'my' conundrum at all.

            As a society we want kids to embrace technology in a meaningful way, yet we have people with no clue harrumphing about computers in the classroom - either seeing them as a distraction, or as part of some global conspiracy on the part of Google or Apple to brainwash our kids.

            Some genius further up the comments actually wrote something about "arsing about with animated emojiis" as if that's what happens in the classroom. Other complainers moan about management of Apple devices and then propose, wait for it, Linux - as if schools would find it easier to manage that scenario.

            If that's the level of insight into education technology displayed by commenters on a tech website, $deity help us...

            1. P. Lee

              Re: Tablets and STEM

              I suspect we can all agree that ipads (or any other tablet/chromebook) are nice. The question is, in an educational environment, do they warrant the cost associated with keeping them usable.

              I think not.

              Tech is fragile, that's generally why we cosseted it in data centres and keep data off corporate laptops and on corporate servers.

              Tech is expensive. Yes, bits are infinitely copyable... unless the license agreement says otherwise. Those ipad textbooks mean people get charged year after year, rather than holding down the cost of education by people having physical books which they can pass on - maybe even donate them to the library. What would be the reaction if every year all students had to burn their textbooks because Pearson said so? Welcome to textbook licensing.

              It's great that kids can always find their homework online. Wait, do we want to teach them that they don't need to learn to remember to write things down they will need to know later? There is little point hoping that IT *usage* skills taught in junior school will still be relevant in the work place, even if you believe the role of school is to subsidise work-training skills. Surely school should be about learning life-skills, the idea is to enhance the child, not the software. If the output is provided by the software, the child didn't do it. So what's the point? Do Apple and Google get a gold star?

              If you have the resources to do IT in the classroom well, great and good for you. Most schools don't however, and when you try, you end up worse than if you didn't.

              Personally, I see tech as non-beneficial to learning. The point of tech is to do the work for you. The point of school is learn to do things yourself. There's no benefit from the output of thirty more kids essays on the structure of a single cell. The benefit is in the process the children go through. Tech messes with that process. Schools need to look at the total cost of ownership and see if they can achieve a better result by spending elsewhere.

              1. Keven E

                Re: Tablets and STEM

                "Tech messes with that process."

                Well done, sir.

          2. BongoJoe

            Re: Tablets and STEM

            >Mike16. Upvote from me for the obvious comparison of being waterboarded and working in IT.

            Yours, who has moved into a new county and have told the neighbours that I know nothing about computers and, thus, can't fix anything.

        3. riparian zone

          Re: @AC

          Are those the times that are filled with over stimulated young people locked into blue screens that don't help with sleep? When young'uns weren't to be running around enjoying the only portion of their life filled with the potential for no responsibilities, carefree climbing of trees and making camps? ah, right, just wondering. Where's the snorkel icon?

        4. Anonymous Coward

          "having things that work is outdated, Grandpa. Get with the times"

          1. TRT Silver badge

            Walled Kindergarten

            "My kids are used to Ticonderoga pencils and Croxley Heritage Wove. How will they cope in a school that uses Cumberland and Conqueror Laid?"

            Worried no parent, ever.

            1. Paul Crawford Silver badge

              Re: Walled Kindergarten

              The name is Bond, Basildon Bond.

        5. notowenwilson

          Re: @AC

          "BTW, in a lot of countries parents pay for their kids textbooks - over five years of secondary school that can add up to the same as two or three iPads. Also an iPad is a lot easier to carry than a rucksack full of books..."

          You still have to pay for the books, though, just because you own the device doesn't mean that the content is free.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        From what you have written it sounds like you don't work in education IT.

        Microsoft's walled garden is no different from Google's or Apple's.

        Open standards sound great but actually using and mamaging them in a dynamic school environment and getting systems and data to share and work together is a nightmare. Yes it is do-able but you need to have a skilled expert to run it and the school falls apart when they move on.

        The best open standard is the use of the web and Chromebooks enable this at a low cost, with excellent management. You don't even have to use Google's productivity tools to deploy this - i.e. using Google as infrastructure.

        Finally, whilst there is a warm fuzzy feeling about returning to pencil and paper; we would not be doing kids any favours to deny them access to technology. Good teachers will teach well, irrespective of if they ask students to use a pencil or a PC, However technology used well can significantly enhance teaching and learning.

  3. James 51

    BTW are kids going to be allowed to type their exams? If not it will make marking exams (and takibg them) even harder.

    1. Uffish

      Re: "type their exams"

      Depends on whether there is a spell checker or not.

  4. djstardust


    £120 extra for the cellular version ..... Apple are clearly still taking the piss I see.

    1. Sandtitz Silver badge

      Re: Hmmmm

      The price difference between any cellular and non-cellular device (not just Apple) is usually around £100.

      1. djstardust

        Re: Hmmmm

        And how much do the components actually cost?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Hmmmm

          It's not the components you should be asking about, it's the patent licenses, some of which may be a percentage of the total cost of the end product. Whether that's fair or legal has been winding its way through various courts.

      2. fidodogbreath

        Re: Hmmmm

        The price difference between any cellular and non-cellular device (not just Apple) is usually around £100.

        Which itself pales in comparison to the cellular service charges that will be paid over the life of the device.

      3. calmeilles

        Re: Hmmmm

        The price difference between any cellular and non-cellular device (not just Apple) is usually around £100.

        For a Kindle Paperwhite it's exactly £60 but that includes lifetime (of the device) data use.

        iPad you pay a premium to have a sim added and still have to buy a data plan of some sort do you not?

    2. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

      Re: Hmmmm

      While I agree with you, do those who Might just possibly use an iPad in Education need a cellular version of the device?

      I don't think so but you do make a valid point. Apple do take the piss. Mind you HP were not that much better when charging a similar amount for a mobile card for my old work laptop.

      1. Snorlax Silver badge

        Re: Hmmmm

        @Steve Davies 3:"While I agree with you, do those who Might just possibly use an iPad in Education need a cellular version of the device?"

        In the US, the Lifeline Program is a federal program to provide discounted 3G internet access to low-income customers.

        So a kid in a low-income household submitting homework through Blackboard or Moodle on his government-subsidised connection is just one possible example of somebody who might use a cellular version of an iPad...

  5. Joerg

    Just nonsense from teachers that are too dumb to do anything...

    "and teachers became frustrated by the lack of simplicity for kids saving and retrieving work" .. seriously? Anyone telling that Apple products are not easy to use and it is hard to save files in apps must be seriously out of mind !

    1. ratfox

      Re: Just nonsense from teachers that are too dumb to do anything...

      While you clearly know the requirements for teaching, and it would be easy for you to do their job. Ahem.

    2. JDX Gold badge

      Re: Just nonsense from teachers that are too dumb to do anything...

      Try managing 30 kids at once who don't quietly follow instructions. Duh

    3. doublelayer Silver badge

      Re: Just nonsense from teachers that are too dumb to do anything...

      >Anyone telling that Apple products are not easy to use and it is hard to save files in apps must be seriously out of [their] mind!

      Er... no. I'll be the first to admit that I have an iPhone and I prefer IOS to things like android, but it is not simple to save files on IOS devices. You have no disk. Some apps will use iCloud only. Some of those apps will fail if you're offline, because the file is only in iCloud. Other apps will save internally and allow uploads to iCloud. Other apps were built when there was no such thing as iCloud drive, so any file they saved got synced, but not downloaded. Thus, they usually link with dropbox or google drive. Sometimes you get apps that require you to use an http server on the iThing or sync the file using iTunes file sharing. It gets worse when you try to move a file between programs. Writing an essay in whatever word processor you like is fine, but just try to move it from the word processor you like to the one I like. At best, you end up shuffling the file around through iCloud drive so that I can get to the open in... button. Other times, you end up with emails or more annoying mechanisms. It's not impossible. It's not infeasible. It's not even difficult most of the time. But it definitely can be annoying.

      1. Lorribot

        Re: Just nonsense from teachers that are too dumb to do anything...

        Also an iPAD has no concept of the 300 different users that might logon so can't save to a specific childs area.

        Apple iOS products are designed for single users which makes sense when you are talking a phone, but an iPad in education is a a much more complicated thing and the concept of an Apple server is something that could tie it all together is something Apple gave up on about 10 years ago.

        Apple are learning that when you jump on a bandwagon you had better put your full effort behind it or you will end up looking a bit pathetic.

    4. ridley

      Re: Just nonsense from teachers that are too dumb to do anything...

      I think they may be getting at how easy it is to get the kids work to the teachers and back once marked. Google Suite for Education using Chromebooks/bases/boxes/pads makes it very easy and intuitive.

      Many teachers are not technology gurus, why should they be? They just want something to work and work easily esp when dealing with 30+ kids at a time. GSFE does this.

      Oh and the administration of hundreds of chrome devices used by many users each is a breeze with GSFE.

  6. TVU Silver badge

    Apple, if you want to win in education, look at what sucks about iPads

    All the issues highlighted in that article illustrate just why Chromebooks are now doing so well in the educational sector and it's not all down to their lower price either. Current Chromebooks can have access to to some Android apps and, later on, they will be able to run Linux apps which includes loads of free educational software.

  7. revilo

    spot on

    The article is spot on. I use the ipad since the very first version (mostly for reading) but for productivity, it is till a problem. The main reason is no reasonable file access. It should be possible to rsync a directory with books or documents quickly over, keeping the directory structure, the logical entities as they are. I have a well organized library which is easy to access under OSX or linux because it is structured in a directory tree. That is all lost on the ipad. Ibooks is nice for a few dozen or hundreds books, but with a library going into the thousands, it is difficult to find books. A second major problem is the mess with apps for note taking or drawing. Not that I mind variety, the problem is that the apps change or worse, change ownership. There was a nice note taking app for example, called Penultimate. It had then been "absorbed" by evernote, where the app of course relies on a cloud service. At some point I was no more able even to keep private copies of the files. Again, also here, every software has its own way to handle the file storage or sync.It would be just great if every app could be based on the same directory based file system. From the desktop, I could sync this over and in one swoop and continue working on the directory tree elsewhere.

  8. Ralph76

    I continue to be surprised that the only "big name" manufacturer targeting education with their tablets is one that that has a model whereby individuals are silo'd - you get one instance of your data on each of their devices. Expecting you to buy a pad, a phone and a computer.

    Education needs multiple profiles to be available on one device, the opposite of Apple...

    The fact that Microsoft have not twigged to this yet boggles my brain...

    A domain aware tablet, targeted to schools...... Am I the only one that sees the perfect fit?

    1. malfeasance

      @Ralph76 - Surface Pro is a domain aware tablet...

      Erm, it's called a surface pro; it is exactly what you asked for, a domain aware tablet with a keyboard... It's just very pricey and thus not an option for the state system sadly.

      The school (It's an fee-paying school, goes from 5-18; Surface Pro use starts at Yr 5 (~9/10) my daughter goes to has mandated surface pros; along with the whole Office 365 buy-in. Having seen how they're using OneNote and all of that to distribute homework it is a big step forward in terms of managing that aspect of schoolwork.

      They use the stylus to annotate the notes / material, and to do the homework; homework is auto-synced, and just "done". The STEM subjects all use the technology quite well I think. The artsy subjects not so much but submission for homework can always be electronic at least.

      Installed Python for CS - I did ask the CS teacher if we could just use the ubuntu WSL but she specifically wanted Python 3.6 (I know I can get it on the ubuntu WSL, but there is probably no point being that annoying for the sake of it).

      I have issues with how the IT guys have set it up (badly); but overall the decision on surfaces is a darn sight better than the previously announced (but never followed through) mandate to use ipads. The expected lifetime of the surface pro is ~4 yrs.

    2. vtcodger Silver badge

      "Education needs multiple profiles to be available on one device"

      Windows 95 and 98 had that. Turns out that it didn't work out all that well in schools because it was a bit hard to use, but also because the devices were shared. If little Bethany spent an hour creating something on the second PC from the wall it wasn't there to finish when she came back two days later and ended up on the third PC from the wall. The solution to that was network drives which then meant logins and passwords that were confusing to many, and hated by most. And the distinction between network and physical drives wasn't all that clear to many kids. Nor many teachers for that matter..

    3. Ben1234_

      "A domain aware tablet, targeted to schools...... Am I the only one that sees the perfect fit?"

      Wasn't that perhaps someone's thought when they came up with the 'Surface Laptop', which was targeted at schools and students? It is just a bit too expensive and the whole 'Windows 10 S' thing removed all domain capabilities, but it could easily be converted over to Pro for free.

      1. TRT Silver badge

        Face ID might just be worthwhile then. Using camera and integrating calendar and some kind of dropbox programme built into a school management tool (anyone remember PowerSchool?) along with on-prem cloud storage that doesn't rely on a good external 'net link.

        "Hello Bethany! Your timetable says that you are supposed to be in Art class now. I see you haven't finished your art drawing yet and submitted it to Miss Jerrard. Is that what we will be doing now?"

        1. 404

          "Hello Bethany! Your timetable says that you are supposed to be in Art class now. I see you haven't finished your art drawing yet and submitted it to Miss Jerrard. Is that what we will be doing now?"

          Took care of an Adult GED school that had a program that did just that - it was Windows 2008 server based program with XP/7 laptops. Students had a generic login to the laptop and a specific login for the edu software, the software would keep track of the student, where they left off, and where to start again with another module. Seems we're going backwards.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Whole thing's nonsense

    Children should be working from text books, front of class presentations and utilising mechanical, not electronic, devices to communicate their learning.

    Using pencils, stylus, compass, etc - it all develops motor skills and generates feedback which enhances the learning digestion.

    What should happen, is that tablets should be issued for homework purposes. This is where I believe, the original non-cashable savings (time, resources, etc) were first identified for tablets in the classroom.

    The tablet is pre-loaded with all the homework tests, etc, for that stage of their learning. When they're assigned homework, they do it from the tablet - the end work is then uploaded at the start of the school day when it's due in, and marked automatically.

    Let them learn like billions of children have before them, and which has produced scientists, doctors, astronauts and rapists, and let them enhance it with marginal IT aids to speed up homework periods - which are a detriment to the family environment and the child's out of school learning (socialising, playing, learning risk and safety management, etc).

    1. JDX Gold badge

      Re: Whole thing's nonsense

      Your arguments aren't actually backed by any kind of science.

      Your main argument seems to be "before tablets existed billions of people, in fact 100% of people, were educated without tablets. All the smart adults around today were taught without tablets so clearly that's the best way".

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Whole thing's nonsense

      I don't understand this obsession with technology that will become obsolete before the children leaves the school, and sandboxes them into badly pre-programmed solutions. Good for companies revenues, actual and future, I don't think it's good for children brains.

      If you wish to create drones, that's surely the way. I'm not against some technology when it really improves thing. Sure, a computer map of the world is better than an old, outdated paper map. Doing math on a tablet than on paper? I don't think the former is better. You're not interested is speeding up computations, you need to understand the reasoning, and you should not be interrupted by the needs and nuisances of a machine, and the difficulties of good input devices, even using a digitizer is less friendly than an old pencil.

      Once you got the necessary knowledge, you will use existing technology naturally to manage it, and adopt newer one, if better, easily. When you're being brainwashed into using a given technology, you'll be enslaved to it.

    3. vtcodger Silver badge

      Re: Whole thing's nonsense

      "Children should be working from text books, front of class presentations and utilising mechanical, not electronic, devices to communicate their learning."

      Nothing all that wrong with that -- as long as your goal is to produce kids that can read, write, make change, think history is dull, know for sure that math is dull, and loathe school.

      I've actually spent considerable time in a K-8 school and I think that electronic devices do have a place in education. But it' seems to me to be a lot narrower than most folks think. One area where I thought the computers seemed useful was a bunch of cute little games that taught things like basic arithmetic, geography, etc to 8-10 year olds who would otherwise have been bored stiff. Those were mostly made available to kids who finished their regular assignment early. The games were fun and better than staring out the window. And learning actually seemed to occur.

      The other area where electronics work well is where you have individuals with exceptional skills in some area. Computers can make training available that would otherwise not be available in their community. You've got a 12 year old who is interested in science. Make Feynman's physics lectures (and the good electronic math tutorials they'll need) available to them. You have another who for some reason -- God knows why -- wants to learn Japanese. Give them a Japanese tutorial (which will either teach them with correct grammar and pronunciation or cure them of any interest in learning that particular language).

      Otherwise, I'm not sure what computer skills the kids need that they won't acquire outside school.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Feynman lectures

        Fwiw, etc.

        Are readers aware of the following project, is it the kind of thing people are/were looking for?

        "Project Tuva was a collaborative research project with Bill Gates in 2009 demonstrating the potential of interactive video learning by highlighting the “core scientific concepts” of Richard Feynman’s Messenger Lectures Series. Upon release, the first of the seven lectures: The Law of Gravitation – An Example of Physical Law, was brought to life with interactive visualizations, links to searchable transcripts, integrated note taking capabilities and other features. The ***Silverlight*** application was retired in 2016, but the Richard Feynman videos are still available below. "

        Silverlight, FFS. This project wasn't (just) about learning physics, it was about creating an extended MS advert for an MS-proprietary technology which in due course turned out to lead nowhere. There is a lesson here for lots of people (not just actual and potential physicists):proprietary stuff has its place, but this wasn't one of them.

    4. Hollerithevo

      Re: Whole thing's nonsense ... um...

      "Let them learn like billions of children have before them, and which has produced scientists, doctors, astronauts and rapists..."

      I am assuming you meant something other than the last word? Artists, perhaps? Freudian slip????

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This whole education model is crap! Children should not be using computers in class until high school, grade 9 or 10, 14 or 15 year olds. With the exception of C programming, which in some countries starts when a child is 7 years old. Yes, C programming. Learn the hard way first and properly. Aside from that, schools should have a choice of Linux, the BSDs or more probably a mixture.

    The problem is that since the 1980s cuts in Corporate and wealth taxes have stripped Governments of the ability to pay for anything meaningfully useful in education and many, any, other Government service. We are raising several generations of semi-educated citizens who'll soon be the adults subservient to a group of better educated children of the already wealthy. This has, historically, been life as our species has known it until the last century and the populace seem willing to give this up. To be fair to us in the populace there is so much Governmental malfeasance in just about all things that it is very difficult to avoid.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      OK OK, I see several people have down voted my comment, obviously, because I suggested C. I could even live with OOP so let's say C++.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "obviously, because I suggested C. I could even live with OOP so let's say C++."

        "Obviously" because they disagreed with any thing[s] you said or implied, like right here: C++ is not a very good example of an OO language... and that's putting it gently.

    2. vtcodger Silver badge

      If your goal is to create computer programmers (Why would you want to do that?), C certainly is a solid choice for a first language. But, the concept of pointers is monumentally difficult for an awful lot of people.

      If your goal is to teach people that they can make a computer do useful things, a scripting language is probably a better choice. Python seems to be the current language that offends the smallest number of people and has the greatest utility for folks who need to write a script every year or three, but don't need to beat computers into submission on a daily basis.

      I don't have any argument with the idea that folks who want to make a living programming computers should probably know C. Even if they end up detesting it.

      1. cambsukguy

        Pointers would be a good way to sort those with aptitude and those without I suppose - especially in the embedded/firmware environments.

        Use Python to easily select for those with natural OO skills perhaps.

        I think it is wise to steer only those with natural ability in programming towards programming.

        Having suffered seriously with prospective programmers of late, I really wish more capable people would come through.

      2. DuncanLarge Silver badge

        "If your goal is to create computer programmers (Why would you want to do that)?"

        Er, to teach people to program the computers they use? We teach kids to hit nails with hammers so they may fit shelves and fix the shed at home at least. Some will like it so much as to get paid to do it for a living for those who really never liked it, but all tried it. All those kids learned how they could use the tools avaliable to them and computers are another incredibly useful and empowering tool. So yes kids should be taught how to program them as part of their schooling from the moment they sit in front of one.

        I agree that a scripting language would be great, so would BASIC or a simple machine code like the one taught in The Human Resource Machine from Tomorrow Corporation, which I'm currently playing on my Nintendo Switch.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I'm going to generalize and suggest that starting with C and at a young age is wise as it is a difficult language to master, but once a person has developed an understanding of programming in C then other languages seem to come more easily. I hope no one thought I was suggesting it's the best language in all circumstances. For instance, would it reasonable to state that most people who can work functionally in C or C++ can move to Java or Python more easily than if one started with Java or Python and needed to learn C or C++? I think that's, mostly, accurate.

      Well, what appear to be Computing classes don't seem to teach much of any relevance. Classes about the the parts of a PC, how they work, what they do are worthwhile, different OS architectures, if you're going to teach that then you might as well use GNU/Linux or the BSDs as those are open source and people can freely look at the programming that creates the functionality of our computers. Many OSs contain much C and or C++.

      1. cambsukguy

        I have a son doing CompSci at Uni and they hardly bother with the 'professional' languages as I understand them; they use Haskell, a strange affair I had trouble following.

        Apparently, it helps to teach the fundamentals.

        It would appear to be working, because he is on a year in industry, and doing very well at it.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          I do apologize for saying this, but Universities use easier languages these days because too many students would drop out if the courses were really hard. If University courses are too thinly populated they face reduced funding and, I suppose, Professors then face job loss due to economics not supporting their continued employment. Assembler, C and C++ are fundamental programming languages. By University level if students can't handle the course load they should be looking at another field of study.

          Education is failing all our children. This goes back to decreased funding caused by decreased taxes for Corporations and the wealthy. Countries that follow the Capitalist agenda with a leaning toward Fascism, as is the trend in most western countries these days, will continue to fall behind where we were on an educational basis.

          I know people say that learning the fundamentals of programming makes it easy to move between programming languages and that is doubtlessly true, to an extent. I question though how good is a programmer who's never really learned the ins and outs of a particular language, in detail, and when does one spend the time doing that? Learn C/C++ thoroughly in school before Uni, including compilers.

          Start 'em young I say.

          Of course, none of this is possible under present day funding models of schools in most western countries. However, those who it right will be far ahead.

        2. DuncanLarge Silver badge

          If he is learning Haskell, trust me he is learning to program very well indeed.

          My mind was constantly blown by what I could do with functional programming languages and how it was done. Because I had mostly programmed with BASIC, C Perl etc I found it a very hard language initially as I had to rethink almost my entire thought process when designing a program.

          Many languages, even Perl are incorperating functional programming elements nowadays. heck even Java and .Net have some.

      2. david 12 Silver badge

        >I'm going to suggest that starting with LATIN and at a young age is wise as it is a difficult language to master, but once a person has developed an understanding of LATIN then other languages seem to come more easily. <

        It may surprise some readers to learn that this is not a new argument.

      3. bish

        I'm also going to generalise and suggest that people who don't actually teach in schools perhaps aren't the best people to be critiquing the school curriculum.

        For the record, I tend to agree that C is a good starting point for learning about code, but since this thread began with the notion that tech in schools is practically useless except as a means to learn to code: I'm just going to gently suggest that computers of all stripes can (when sensibly and thoughtfully applied) be excellent tools to boost student engagement, as well as providing a range of ways for those kids who don't necessarily excel at writing to synthesise their learning in interesting forms. After all (as long as the students can all read and write to a reasonable level) shouldn't producing a slideshow, video or comic that demonstrates the same high-level learning be regarded as just as valid as scribbling a tedious three-page essay?

        Oh, and since we're veering way off topic here, I'm going to loop back and add that, while the iPad may seem like the perfect device for what I've just suggested, the OP is spot on in that the management tools are (or have been, in my experience, YMMV, yada yada) terrible and broken.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    By the hormonal scent of Mary Hinge, kids should be taught by the chalk, the cane and the rage. And no other way. Ye gods, no wonder today’s youth has all the strength and fortitude of a piece of damp used sanitary ware and all the morals of a workhouse whore.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      haha, that is a TOP comment :)

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Sadly a lot of bollocks being talked here

    It is obvious as someone who works in and with schools' ICT that the majority of you haven't got a clue how schools work or use technology.

    There's also a number of very "Daily Express" views on kids spending too much time looking at technology rather than teaching, and "wasn't it better in our day". If you actually spend time in schools you will realise that teachers and students generally spend most of their time *not* using technology.

    Back to the article, most schools cannot afford to invest in technology and a cheap educational iPad sounds good, but the majority are still teaching on 5+ year old kit running Windows 7. Hence why Chromebooks are so popular, as for £160 you can get a machine that does pretty much everything an iPad does and has a proper keyboard so you can type stuff.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Sadly a lot of bollocks being talked here

      "Hence why Chromebooks are so popular, as for £160 you can get a machine that does pretty much everything an iPad does and has a proper keyboard so you can type stuff."

      More importantly you get a set of software that has been built from the ground up for collaboration, rather than having collaboration bolted on (as with Office and iWork). There are certainly working situations where I envy those who have the option of using Google's office suite (we are barred at work, due to a policy that any business is conducted strictly on company servers, and Office is pretty dire for collaboration). Schools don't need Apple. They don't need the expense and trouble when cheaper, better fitting solution already exists.

    2. bish

      Re: Sadly a lot of bollocks being talked here

      Wish I could upvote you more.

  13. TheGreatCabbage

    Personally I think it's a really bad idea to give young children too much exposure to these devices, especially given the money that could instead be spent on proper teaching materials.

    I'm in university and like taking notes on a tablet, but I fear the effects that they might have on children (addiction, worse attention span, less social skills, etc).

  14. JSBPS

    I'm currently working with a mostly 1:1 deployment in an independent school, deployment wise I'm happy with the setup now via DEP/MDM, one of the most irritating issues we face is pupils entering the wrong passcode until the iPad asks for connection to iTunes at which point we end up wiping and recovering from backup.

    Managed AppleID has been a bit of a car crash, being unable to purchase anything including storage has made managing it all particularly difficult - until now we've had many users who've filled their 5gb storage causing their devices to stop backing up until we convince them to clear some photos - We we've been met with nothing but "thats just how it is" whenever I asked about additional storage.

    Within education I think its the teaching side that needs a helping hand/push these days - we're pushing staff training and getting them to go through the Apple Teacher programme as part of their CPD targets but its difficult to get them to be enthusiastic in many cases. I'm hoping the Everyone Can Create curriculum will help with this along with the new school app/Class Kit.

    Hardware wise I'm glad Apple have settled on providing lower cost kit to schools, Having to fork out for 64GB Air 2's back when 9.3 was released due to the lack of a 32gb model was disappointing, especially when shared iPad turned out to be such a flop at the time and MDM support was poor at best!

    1. vtcodger Silver badge

      Ah, someone who actually works in a school.

      May I ask about something that I've been curious about for years. I retired a long time ago, when schools had PCs in classrooms, but portable devices were still a bit too expensive to hand out to the kids. The school I worked in had big bags in the teacher's lunchroom full of coats, hats, gloves, scarves etc lost by the students and never retrieved. My question is, given that kids can manage to go home without their coat when the temperature outside is around 0F(-18C), just how many portable devices will be lost over the course of a school year? And how many more will be destroyed by kids being kids?

      BTW, I congratulate you far sticking by a difficult and rather thankless job no matter whether the gear is Apple, MS, or Unix.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward


        A local school had 1300 iPads - 1 per student. After a few years of insurance claims (they employed an extra, full time, 'ICT' person whose job was substantially filling in such forms, plus basic, high volume, iPad administration (yes, they did use an MDM, for the limited help it gave)) they reckoned on 25% lost / broken iPads per year. They had mandatory heavy-duty, 'drop-protection' cases and mandatory insurance. (Kids dropped a lot of them the wrong way, they landed on their corners and the screens broke).

        Parents were persuaded to pay a monthly fee for 3 years to cover some of the costs. Most were persuaded that being allowed to buy an out-of-date slab at the end of the 3 years would be a wonderful opportunity.

        Teachers were 'encouraged' to provide lessons in which students made videos about (whatever), which they did to get the ticks in individual appraisal and departmental review boxes. The savvy ones did the sums about how much of the total year's teaching time for a class was consumed teaching a very small part of a syllabus that they were expected to cover and minimised the damage once they had got the ticks.

        Students thought that playing with slabs was more fun than learning. For a while. Until they were bored with the games and social media diversion. Then, 'Another iPad lesson. Boring!'

        The scepticism of most teachers was overruled by the excitement sold to one or two leaders by third-party Apple resellers. The excitement was all about 'enabling', 'digital natives', 'preparation for tomorrow's world'.

        Such larks, Pip.

      2. Giles Hill

        (author of the piece)


        Tech in schools is not a dead loss... but it's so important not to let the big companies bamboozle teachers with sales-talk nonsense. There is a way to use tech in schools successfully now, without spending ridiculous sums of cash - yet remaining ruthlessly cynical is the only way to uncover the true gold. There's something very satisfying when your choice of tech with teaching melds seamlessly with a task and you can see the motivation it's providing the children.

        You're right that equipment such as tablets and laptops can be broken in the classroom crossfire... though my experience is that if children are taught to handle the equipment well (and tablets have sufficient protection) then breakages are not necessarily that common. That said, cheap but well-made devices (not always an impossibility) are, these days, the way to go for sure.

        As for thievery, well... here in Cornwall, we have some high levels of deprivation in places... yet it doesn't necessarily translate to lots of theft (if schools store the devices sufficiently). Inner-city schools are a different matter, perhaps... and another good reason to have fuller-sized devices (locked to school log-ins) rather than diminutive tablets.

        All the best, Giles Hill

  15. AS1

    If only the tech made a difference.

    "Taken together, the correlational and experimental evidence does not offer a convincing case for the general impact of digital technology on learning outcomes." (50 page research report.)

    Despite 40 years of research, while the data show small positive correlation between use of technology and attainment, the cause does not appear to be the technology itself but effective teachers able to integrate technology in the lesson.

    Technology itself tends to be so unreliable that the teacher has to plan two lessons, one using technology and a backup traditional lesson. Planning only the latter is more efficient and guarantees a full lesson. Using any technology for contact-time teaching, particularly where the students need access, takes far longer to set up and, anecdotally, appears to have a higher risk of failure.

    That said, I have observed good uses, for example during a chemistry lesson, the teacher used a short video clip on a topic to keep the class engaged while he collected and distributed the next set of work. This let the lesson continue without interruption and kept the class on task.

    Technology for either home study or revision (i.e. short- and long-term recall when the teacher is not available) can be effective, but is dependent on the student being engaged in their learning which, in many ways, is the crux of an effective learning environment, independent of method.

  16. Breen Whitman

    Our school uses android tablets. The sharing problem is solved because it's built in.

    Prices are better too.

  17. SVV

    useful little tools

    "iPads remain a high-quality package, and when children are engaged in such tasks, they're useful little tools."

    That's not a very nice thing to calll the children. As the education described by Sir here seems to consist of making movies, complete with full on special effects technology, I can only say that my primary education was dull by omparison. All that rote learning, ,only for it all to be made redundant by Wikipedia and calculator apps. However, if the kids ever need to fix something with glue, they may find that there's not an app for that. Not too convinced about the homework on an iPad idea either. In the old days, parent's handwriting in the homework book was easily spottable. Can't see who actually did the work so easily now, can you?

    Ever seen a picture of a victorian classroom where they're all working on little personal blackboards? I guess it looks fairly similar these days as they all stare at their little black rectangles.

  18. Lee D Silver badge

    IT Manager.

    Private school.

    500+ iPads.

    I would gladly, this second, without further consideration, flog them all off and buy the same number of Chromebook / Android tablets / hell, even RPi's, and spend the difference on a whole new IT Suite.

    iPads are NOT built for management. They do NOT enforce settings. They do NOT have fine-grained control. They do NOT operate simply and easily (count your number of iTunes sign-ins if you push any significant number of apps to every iPad, yeah it'll "remember it" for 15 minutes but literally updates 5-10 apps every single day requiring the password in the middle of class...). They are insecure. They lock US out more than the children. They throw every obstacle possible in the way of using them. They have only a concept of a single user (so you can't share them, you can't sign in with a different account to install apps, etc. - and preloading apps can fail BECAUSE it's not the same user as you are using it as...)

    And you CANNOT do it cheaply. Every time you think you can do it cheaply, you set yourself up for failure. You have to buy brand-new iPads, from an official Apple reseller, who'll only sell the latest model, every single time. Without that you can't do DEP, without DEP you can't enforce most of the settings or use Apple School Manager (don't even get me started on that pile of junk). BYOD? Ha. Yeah, right. BYOD = no DEP. You can't do BYOD with iPad (not that anyone with a brain actually WANTS to do BYOD anyway). Not even counting supervision, Find My iPad and a myriad other settings that just get in your way of doing the simplest of things (even if you're the person who supervised them!).

    I have Cisco Meraki wireless, switches and device management. It does everything you can possibly do to an iPad. And you still can't lock them down.

    Not forgetting that their customer service is THE WORST I've ever experienced. I've never had to tell someone that we cannot do business with a company that operates the way they do, until I started in an Apple school. Literal refusal to file a complaint, acknowledge a complaint, provides names of individuals, provide anything in writing (hell "No you can't do that" would have done me, but the Head of Written Complaints, Ireland, refuse to write a reply to my written complaint or even give me his name). They aren't data protection or GPDR-compliant and never have been, and iCloud is literally just Azure, AWS and Google server instances... TheReg published an article on it a few weeks ago.

    Sorry, Apple, I could not describe a single reason to ever use you. In school. At work. Or personally.

    In a recent IT audit the consultant is not the first to have uttered the phrase "Yes I hear you, but we know that all the IT guys we deal with hate Apple"... well... maybe that bloody tells you something?


    Go with Google. Free. Actually respond to support. A million times more services. And Google Classroom et al knock "iTunes U" into a cocked hat. If your school used Apple, it's because they want to show off.

    (P.S. Yes. We have ceased all business with Apple, now and for the future. Compliance is a big thing nowadays and you can't do business with a company that just refuses to comply with its legal obligations).

    1. Giles Hill

      (author of the piece)

      Wow, Lee... I knew I was onto something but this really sticks the nail in the coffin! I wonder if my brain was somehow shielding me from the true horrors I've seen along the way.

      Yes, the password stuff makes you want to chuck them all in a skip. And changing profiles so that you can install / delete apps... then having to change them back again. Utter nonsense.

      If Apple had invested the time and energy that a proper device management system needs from the outset we could be looking at an entirely different picture.

      I will say that if Apple Classroom is usable on your devices, it is worth the setup for the control and ease it can provide teachers. Try it out for a willing and enthused teacher... if you have any left.

      I hate it when schools get such a bad return from their 'investment', especially in circumstances where it feels like you've been fed false-promises along the way. Ho hum, not the first time it's happened.

      Best of luck with it all, Giles

    2. Is It Me

      This totally echos my experience supporting primary schools.

      The other things that I saw happening was the IT Suites of desktop PCs being converted in to a classroom and laptops in trolleys being used to replace them.

      Pushing out new software and windows updates then becomes horrible, as you can't easily schedule an overnight maintenance window. So every time there are updates the teachers waste half a lesson just waiting for the kids to get logged in.

      If I was setting up a primary school I would have a mix of an IT suite running Windows on a domain with suitable polices to lock everything down, with enough desktops for one per pupil in a class (with a couple left over as hot spares) and then have chrome books for the mobile devices so they can be used to support in classroom teaching (this could be done as one chrome book between 2 pupils if needed).

  19. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge

    Apple making things easier

    So you tried to install High Sierra but nothing happens? The installer has the old "dirty unmount" bug so hfs_fsck is busy fixing your boot disk while the installer is looking for it. There's an easy fix.

    Download the High Sierra installer over and over until you get the full 4+ GB version. Insert a USB stick and reformat it. Find the secret terminal command to convert the installer to a bootable volume on the USB stick. Back up your hard disk using Time Machine. Remove the factory hard disk and install an SSD or very fast hard disk. Boot your base OS DVD and install onto the new boot disk. Boot into High Sierra from the USB stick and update the boot disk. Reboot and restore from the Time Machine backup. Run Software Updates repeatedly for the next several hours until it's up to date.

    So easy! Only needs a few days of work, an expensive new hard drive, and about 15 GB of downloads.

    1. Ropewash

      Re: Apple making things easier

      I love those type of solutions.

      How many machines does it take to get to that process by trial&error?

      This right here is why schools need these devices.

      Lesson one, week three - Restoring your broken boot. Students must devise and apply a method to make their busted PoS machine run again. Pass/Fail to be determined by pushing the power switch and seeing what happens.

      That is exactly what children need to learn how to do if they wish to live in a technological society.

      I'm not being sarcastic either.

  20. Stu J

    Walled Garden

    There is no way schools should be buying in to walled gardens of any forms with the taxpayer's money.

    1. 404

      Re: Walled Garden

      Get your butt down to the local school board meetings and make yourself heard then - that's the only way you'll even slow them down.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    For the iPad to work in education?

    Pass me that pipe; I'll have some of that stuff she's smokin'

  22. Speltier

    Valid Points

    The teacher is supposed to teach the subject, not teach how to operate the machines so that the subject can be taught. Pretty much anyone reading this can feel the effect when the tool chain is changed, and productivity hits a speed bump until the new tool chain of the (day/week/month/year...) is learned. Now reverse the idea, the tool chain is unreliable but unchanging, but the users are constantly being replaced with new naive users, replicating the same learning mistakes.

    The education application tools need to be consistent, reliable, and converge on correct operation (lack of convergence for applications where I work leads to -2).

    Apple/Google ought to create their educational device to have locked settings that are grade specific (don't expect 1st grade to change settings; 12th grade is expected to recover from self induced stupidity so they can have more room to roam and risk falling into the La Brea tarpits of software despair), with student specific modified settings/work saved to cloud, and the machines restored to default after every class (or day, as appropriate). The OS needs the second mode, education, to control settings, and this costs manufacturer resources. Plus, lets face it, as engineers and programmers we want to festoon the product with all sorts of gee whiz baubles, mostly of no use to education... students will push the buttons, and millions of students pushing buttons will expose every bug you never thought of.

    1. ridley

      Re: Valid Points

      Err have you ever tried a Chromebook in a GSFE environment?

      I think you have just described WHY they are so popular, everything you ask for is just there.

  23. Zero Sum

    To Lee D

    I've had a completely different experience with our department's iPads and have had no problem installing apps, disabling the camera on some units, blacklisting certain websites and generally locking the things down.

    Profile Manger on MacOS server handles most of this very well even though it is a bit fiddly in some ways. The important first step is top make them managed devices first using Apple Configurator before enrolling them in Profile Manager, then they are much less breakable.

  24. FuzzyWuzzys

    My daughter is studying her GCSEs and yes they sometimes use tablets but more often than not she finds it much easier to simply sit down with a proper book, pen and paper or talk to real people about the subjects in order to learn. A lot of her friends simply use technology for fun, they find it too hard to learn from technology.

    These companies, Google and Apple, simply want to shift units, we all know that's bloody obvious but the PR depts in these companies and the Gov ministers seem to the think the future is going to be like the fecking Jetsons! FFS! Wake up! education is not about "trendiness" at grass roots level, teacher and pupil, education is about personal engagement. It's about sitting down together and dicussing why Henry VIII reformed the church? Why did Hitler become such a nutter? What's the real message behind the Charge of the Light Brigade? You can put all the incredibly stunning visuals you like on a glass screen, make all the movies and interactive websites you like but to bring history and culture alive you need the one thing you will never put in a machine, a child's imagination.

    I speak as a parent and a typical IT worker of 30 years experience, I've been using computers since I was 8 years old, I still love computers and IT in general, it's my life and my career. However it was when I became a parent that I realised that technology is a supplement to education, it can never be a replacement. These ministers who immediately pack their kids off to boarding school have no idea how to engagement with people let alone kids. Showing your child a castle, then describing how they toutured people, how the kings and queens fought over land and power. How the battles raged over Europe. Then watching your child's eyes light up and their imagination spark up, that day they walk into the castle gift shop and for the first time go right past the plush toys, straight past the video screens, straight past the interactive tech displays and go right to the bookshelf to find out more about "1066 And All That".

  25. -tim

    Never underestimate students with hardware.

    A group of students were talking on the train about a few IT problems and solutions for them. They were virtualized the locked down school system so it looks like the machines hadn't been tampered with.

    These students who appear to have been about 12 years old also found a way around the anti-plagiarism software by simply including the entire assignment notes into their work. Since every student is doing it, the scores started showing every student was about 30% plagiarized and if they included direct quotes from the teacher they could get that score into the 70% range where the instructor simply ignored the score.

    1. TRT Silver badge

      Re: into the range where the instructor simply ignored

      Ah! A wetware attack. Go for the weakest point.

    2. Snorlax Silver badge

      Re: Never underestimate students with hardware.

      @-tim:"These students who appear to have been about 12 years old also found a way around the anti-plagiarism software by simply including the entire assignment notes into their work. Since every student is doing it, the scores started showing every student was about 30% plagiarized and if they included direct quotes from the teacher they could get that score into the 70% range where the instructor simply ignored the score."

      Eh no, that's not how it works.

      Including a common cover page or assignment description might raise the percentage, but have you ever looked at a submission report in Turnitin or similar?

      That overall % is broken down so the teacher can immediately see the sources of the 'plagarism' within the document. If it's a cover page or assignment description, that can be seen and discounted but the rest stands - the teacher doesn't ignore the overall score.

      lol you must think teachers are stupid...

  26. Tessier-Ashpool

    Meh, who needs administrators?

    If I were one of those young kids, I’d be spending my time figuring out how to use my own device with the school network. That’s what I do on our corporate network. The admins hate me, but at least I don’t get spyware installed as a matter of course, and I don’t have to worry about their stoopid antivirus interfering with my work.

    Go for it, kids. I’d call it initiative.

  27. Chairman of the Bored


    For people questioning what educational objectives are met by using tablets, Chromebook, etc in middle school classrooms... You're missing the point

    Teachers have to use the tools issued to them, good bad or indifferent, and have my utmost respect for their efforts.

    Why the electronic devices? In suburbia, local governments compete for population (tax money) against each other. One of the biggest selling points of a locality for yuppies is "how good are the schools?"

    Metrics such as number of devices per child, number of "digital classrooms", the age at which children enjoy the glories of "digital classrooms" then serve as proxies for school system investment. Every school system doing relatively "better" than it's peers will spout off all such metrics on their malware-ridden and poorly designed website.

    I wasn't born this cynical, I learned it in school. And I've reinforced it by volunteering to teach an odd class as needed...

  28. cambsukguy

    Given that Windows/Office is so common in the workplace and obviously has device management sorted to the fullest extent, what is the reason schools don't use Windows devices?

    Surfaces cost too much presumably? but are there not cheap Windows tablets that get support simply by being Windows?

    Does WIn10S (mode) allow a cheap Chromebook type machine to be used?

    Having a proper machine with stuff on it (like Office) must reduce the network overhead and keeping them up to date is all automatic.

    Having seen the extent to which corporations can control every level of the device and remote access it etc. it seems like a no-brainer.

    Always assuming the Apps exist I suppose.

    Maybe MS don't care enough at that level, as long as they give free/cheap Office to Students later, they will have them as adult customers I suppose.

    1. coolcity

      @ cambsukguy

      I was wondering that from the very start. I'm no expert on IT or education so I thought it was just me, but it seems simple: If the iPad isn't suitable then don't use them.

      My understanding is that Windows 10 S is partly designed for education purposes and while the Surface Laptop might be expensive, I get the impression that Microsoft introduced the format so that OEM manufacturers will follow with cheaper machines. If part of it is enabling the kids to be Tech act in the future then surely it makes most sense to use the most popular and widely used OS rather than what is primarily a mobile OS?

      As for teaching kids how to sort out an issue with their PoS machines later down the line, you'll probably find that's a job for the tech repair team the store has outsourced the job to, not shop floor staff. There will probably be some job description or health and safety rule preventing them from doing so anyway.

      Frankly though I would take the lot away and give them paper and pencil. Mist people have a computer or tablet at home now so it's not as if it's something they wouldn't be able to access if they didn't use then in schools. But I took (and passed) my O Level exams in the last year before calculators were allowed and did well enough. Around that time (when calculators were allowed in exams) seems to be when the rot started to set in. The result is that these days you walk into a shop and the kids on the counter can't work out how much change to give you if the till doesn't tell them.

  29. kylekartan

    The Power of Marketing

    I started working as a Network Admin in a school district (USA) that had iPads 1:1 grades K-8. We had an "Apple Distinguished School" (proving that we spent a ton of money). We've since ditched iPads for Chromebooks 4-8.

    While their education focused features have come a long way in the last few years, they're still a massive, expensive pain in the ass to manage. Educational pricing? LOL how about $20 off retail? You want to manage them? Better buy a 3rd party MDM. You want to use a newer OS? Better make sure the devices aren't ANY more than 3 years old, want to use Shared iPad? Better hope you bought the most storage you could.

    I've had to spend a ridiculous amount of time troubleshooting issues with printing (ugh), storage, app installation, app updates, etc. is insane. It ends up being twice as frustrating because there's nothing that can actually be done, it's just "because apple".

    We recently met with our new sales/education reps and they are really feeling the crunch of loosing market share. But even if the local reps understand what you're saying (they usually don't), Cupertino sure as hell doesn't even care.

    Same issues have been going on for years. Issues that should have been fixed years ago. Sad.

  30. CJatCTi

    If money is really tight

    If money is really tight why are schools buying apple products, when android is cheaper and better?

  31. Ptol

    missed the biggest issue of all, robustness

    My daughters school in New Zealand has been doing BYOD for a couple of years for children aged 9 to 11. Overwhelmingly, the school recommends netbooks for most. Windows 10 devices with touch screens if your child is wanting a proper laptop, and most relevant to this article - do not buy them an i-Pad.

    The teachers were at the point of pleading with us parents about this. All the children want the i-Pad. but they don't last a year. The i-pads are just not robust enough to handle 40 weeks of normal life with a 10 year old. Netbooks were their recommendation, just for their simplicity,robustness and battery life.

  32. Anonymous Coward

    There is no evidence that computers of whatever breed lead to enhanced learning outcomes

    Sorry for the awful "outcomes" jargon, but outside (obviously) of technology classes (coding etc) there's just no evidence that computers in the classroom lead to students learning faster, or better.

    Face it, it's just fresh fodder for the tech predators. Get 'em while they're young.

  33. bish

    Oh my...

    Thank you, Giles, for writing this. I've been trawling round the mass of thinly veiled press releases published on supposedly informative tech sites, doing my best to articulate why 'buyer beware' is essential advice for any educationalists tempted by Apple's sales pitch. Now I can just link to this article, which (far more eloquently than my own red mist rants) itemises every one of my frustrations from my experience of trying to use iPads in a college.

    I, for one, will continue to steer the people with the cash towards Chromebooks until I hear from (a lot of) peers telling me that Apple has finally bothered to create the tools to make iPads work (properly, seamlessly) in a classroom.

  34. Nano nano

    Are Android tablets any better (eg Samsung ...)

    As subject ....

  35. Nano nano

    One app to rule them all ...?

    Surely one solution would be to take a "Citrix"/network computer type of app which just provided a front end to a local educational server providing the required managed apps and resources ...

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Other stories you might like