What tech to buy next for your classroom? Chromebook? iPad Mini? iPad 2? Nexus 10? The New iPad?

I’m trying to decide what technology to buy next for my classroom. Right now, I have my own personal iPad 2 in the hands of some students to help them with their learning.

(The wonderful thing about using my old technology in the classroom is that I can feel less guilty about upgrading to the latest toy.)

I’m very happy with my iPad 3. I’m glad I upgraded from my iPad 2 and as much as I’d love to have the brand new iPad 4 with the upgrade in processing power, I can’t really justify the cost.

There are a few options that caught my eye. Not sure which one I would buy for the classroom, but here they are in order of price:

$249 – Google laptop: Chromebook (Samsung XE 303C12–A01US)

  • $249 for 16 GB, Wi-Fi
  • available in the US and UK only. Not available in Canada stores yet. (You can find it on eBay or by hopping across the border.)
  • 11.6 inch display (1366 x 768 resolution)
  • Chrome OS (allows multiuser accounts)

Business insider has a review of Google’s new Chromebook. The nice thing about Chromebooks is that you can set up multiple user accounts on the device. Everything is in the cloud so you don’t have to worry about losing your work. From the classroom perspective, multiuser accounts is nice because different students can have different settings. You don’t have to worry about students being able to access your own personal information when they’re using your Chromebook.

The downside for the average user is the device is completely dependent on internet. This isn’t a problem for the Wi-Fi enabled classroom.

$329 – Apple tablet: iPad mini

  • starts at $329 for 16 GB, Wi-Fi
  • available in Canada
  • 7.9 inch display (1024 x 768 resolution at 163 pixels per inch)
  • iOS 6 (single user only)

I haven’t entirely decided if I like the idea of the iPad mini for the classroom yet. For $70 more, you can get an iPad 2 with a 2 inch bigger screen. Basically, you can get five iPad minis ($1650) for the price of four iPad 2s (1600). Or to put it another way, you could get a class set of 30 iPad minis ($9900) , or you could get a class set of 25 iPad 2s for approximately the same price ($10,000.)

IPads are nice in the classroom because the touch interface is really intuitive. It’s easier to sketch out diagrams when you’re taking class notes on an iPad than a laptop. On the other hand, it’s harder to type class notes on a tablet for extended periods of time, compared to the keyboard.

$399 – Google tablet: Nexus 10

  • starts at $399 for 16 GB, Wi-Fi
  • will be available in Canada, November 13
  • 10.1 inch display (2560 x 1600 pixels at 300 pixels print)
  • Android 4.2 jellybean (allows multiuser accounts)

Google’s new Nexus 10 tablet has some better specs in the iPad, but what’s really interesting for the classroom is that android 4.2 jellybean is a multiuser environment. This means you can share your personal next 10 tablet with students without having to worry about them accessing your personal information. (When you hand over your iPad, on the other hand, a student can often very quickly access your apps, email, calendar, and personal data.)

I’m not sure how I feel about android apps. Forbes magazine highlights some interesting data about IOS apps versus android apps: “apps are more popular than mobile web, and Apple is winning this race by any measure.” Apple has 550,000 apps and 25 billion apps have been downloaded. On the other hand, android has 440,000 apps and 10 billion have been downloaded.

(I am biased towards Apple. I own four IOS devices and zero android devices so far.)

$399 – Apple tablet: iPad 2

  • starts at $399 for 16 GB, Wi-Fi
  • available in Canada
  • 9.7 inch display (1024 x 768 resolution at 132 pixels per inch)
  • iOS 6 (single user only)

in terms of classroom use, I don’t think there’s any need to spend the extra hundred dollars to buy the new iPad when the iPad 2 is just fine for student use.

$499 – Apple tablet: iPad 4

  • starts at $499 for 16 GB, Wi-Fi
  • available in Canada
  • 9.7 inch display (2048 x 1536 resolution at 264 pixels per inch)
  • iOS 6 (single user only)

Bottom line?

Let’s be honest. I’ll probably upgrade to the iPad 4 eventually, and my current iPad 3 will become a classroom device. I’d have to play with the iPad mini at the Apple Store before you can convince me to shell out money. (On the other hand, I could see me sending my daughter with a smaller iPad tablet to school one day.)