Device Recommendations for Families
Many families have asked which device would be appropriate for their child to use for remote learning. The answer varies somewhat by age. Below, I am listing some thoughts and recommendations for you to consider if you are purchasing a new device for your child.
For younger students, I typically recommend iPads. They are much easier for young children to navigate more independently. They are durable when paired with a good case. They have a long battery life. Students who have had Library with me at PS29 have already had some lessons in navigating iPads. The touch screen allows students to write "on" activities on the screen with their finger or a stylus (in apps like Seesaw). This is much easier to do on a touch screen than with a mouse or a mouse pad. Both iPad or iPad mini are great options for young students.
Another great choice for younger students would be a touchscreen Chromebook. Read below for more details on these devices.
I always recommend Chromebooks for students in grades 3-5. They are relatively inexpensive ($200-$350), durable, boot up quickly and keep themselves updated automatically. In my experience, they have a pretty long life - we have functioning Chromebooks at school that are 4-5 years old.
Touch screen Chromebooks are another great option, which create a nice "hybrid" situation, because kids can still use their finger or a stylus to write/draw when needed, in addition to the regular keyboard. Of course, you'll want a Chromebook with a camera, but I think they all have cameras at this point.
The difference between a laptop and Chromebook is that a Chromebook does NOT have a "desktop" and can only access online applications - so anything that is available through a web browser on the Internet is accessible. For example, if you need a word processing application, you can't use Microsoft Word, but you could use Google Docs. I find this to be totally sufficient for students, because pretty much everything they do is online. There are also some specific apps that are available for Chromebooks, such as Zoom.
There are always new models coming out, so I typically don't recommend a specific model, but we have had good luck at school with Samsung, HP and Acer Chromebooks in the past. I usually just go by Amazon reviews - if they are a newish model, and have plenty (at least a couple hundred) of reviews for 4+ stars, I go with that.
Be sure to get your child a good pair of headphones or ear buds with a mic as well, and a durable case to protect your new device.
Finally, when you first sign on to your new Chromebook, use a personal gmail account - DO NOT use your child's @ps29bk.org account or @nycstudents.net account for your first sign on! The first user to sign onto a new Chromebook becomes the "owner" of the Chromebook and therefore has access to manage some important features on the Chromebook. You do not want the owner of your Chromebook to be a managed school account. After you login with your personal gmail, you can then sign out of that account and sign in with your child's school accounts. Switching users on a Chromebook is easy, just click in the bottom right corner to sign out of a user.