While tablet adoption still has a long way to go in the K-12 market, numerous familiar and not-so-familiar brands are tailoring their tablets specifically for the classroom. There a slew of tablets out there and narrowing down your choices is no easy task. That’s why we’ve created this list. All the tablets featured here are marketed to education users and offer things like pre-loaded educational apps or videos or a rugged design that protects the device against spills, drops, bumps, etc. While, yes, you may find some of the tablets on this list outside the classroom, these tablets have made the leap to the edtech scene or have shown themselves to be valuable educational tools in K-12 districts across the country.
As you’ll soon see, this list includes the iPad. Although it isn’t strictly an education device, and it isn’t something you’ll see on display at education conferences like FETC, TCEA or ISTE, the iPad is certainly the biggest player in education right now. When it was released in 2010 there was no other device like it. It wasn’t the first tablet, but it was the most successful and has since become the educator’s go-to device. We would be remiss in leaving out the iPad. Now there are more choices then ever in the market and more viable options for K-12 schools looking to go the tablet route. Will the iPad continue to be king? We can only guess, but this round up of the 13 best tablets for K-12 education features some serious front-runners.
To further help you as you begin your search for the right device, we’ve included seven buying tips.
7 Buying Tips for K-12 Tablets
What do you want the tablets to do?
“Schools that have seen the greatest success with tablet deployments begin by understanding how and why they will be using tablets in the classroom,” says Lisa Wayne, director of Sony’s tablet business. “While tablets can enhance student learning dramatically, their effectiveness is subject to an educator’s willingness and ability to use them.”
Do you require connectivity across multiple devices?
“Whether your school is using a cloud-based solution, a learning management system or just looking to connect a tablet to a projector, schools need to ensure that whatever devices need to be connected can play well with others,” says Wayne. Look for HDMI, USB, VGA and memory card slots if you require them.
Ask the vendor if it offers professional development and training services.
Amplify spokesperson Kay Moffett says that educators should seek “high-quality professional development that trains teachers not just on the device but on how to engage in powerful tablet-powered teaching. Does the vendor provide not only training on how to use the device but how to integrate the tablet into instruction in meaningful ways?”
How do you manage the tablets?
With dozens or hundreds of tablets comes the challenge of managing them all. Ask the vendor about how your IT staff can keep track of and update all of these tablets.
Watch for additional and recurring costs.
Some tablets require additional payment for software or even monthly subscription charges. Confirm with the vendor exactly what it will cost to use the tablets beyond the initial purchase price. You don’t want any surprises once the devices are in the classroom.
Where are the apps?
Some tablets come with built-in apps. Others support the Google Play store, or even come with their own cloud-based application stores. Some come with built-in and cloud-based applications. Determine what apps you require and where they will come from.
Don’t forget about tech support.
Ask your vendor about continued tech support for the tablets. Does the vendor offer tech support? If so, how much does it cost? Does the product benefit from community-based support; i.e., advice and insight from other users of the platform? Make sure you have reliable support options so you don’t get stranded if and when you need help.