iPads vs. laptops: Former, current sixth graders give opinions on iPads


Photo credit: Chloe Richards

Sixth graders use iPads during lunch in the classroom village. Sixth graders started getting iPads during the 2016-2017 school year.

Each year, new sixth graders sling black cases marked with small purple Archer logos over their shoulders. These bags are similar to every other carrying case given to incoming students, but unlike the cases of older students, which hold laptop computers, sixth graders’ cases contain iPads.

At the beginning of the 2016-2017 school year, the Class of 2023 became the first sixth-grade class to be given iPads instead of laptops. The iPads came with a carrying case (similar to those given with laptops), a clip-on keyboard and a charger. 

Middle School Director Karen Pavliscak described the iPads as tools to help prepare younger students to “navigate this changing landscape of technology.” 

“It’s like [getting] a bike before you get a car,” Pavliscak said. “We saw the iPad as a simplified, more strategic hands-on tool to gain some media and digital literacies in order to be more prepared in seventh grade to take on the responsibility of a laptop.”

Eighth graders Katie Hadsock Longarzo and Avery Selig, who were both members of the first class to receive laptops, said the change was met with “difficulties” during class time and homework time alike. 

“The little keyboards they gave us kept breaking, so every English class, people would have to go down to IT,” Hadsock-Longarzo said. 

Another class where iPads are difficult to use is math.

“In math class, when we do coding, sometimes the iPads have glitches and so it’s harder to get our code to work,” said sixth-grader Allison Yang. 

Even with the difficulties, Hadsock-Longarzo said she saw benefits of having an iPad in sixth grade.

“My friends who go to Archer…always told me ‘Oh, you’re going to get a computer,’ so I expected a computer,” Hadsock-Longarzo said. “I kind of liked the iPads better because it’s less weight and, being little sixth graders, [laptops are] too much to carry.” 

Current sixth grader Bryce Collis has mixed feelings towards whether iPads or laptops are better.

“[With an iPad,] you can keep in contact and look at all your homework — if you’re ever missing something it’s all on the Learning Hub, but you can still get all those things on the computers,” Collis said. 

Even with the mixed opinions about the iPads, when Pavliscak sees sixth graders using their iPads during class, she believes it was a good decision.

“When I go into a classroom,” Pavliscak said, “and I see kids designing, using apps that are really hands-on, actually holding up their iPads like a whiteboard, doing math on them, making movies on them and not [being] stuck with a keyboard, I feel pretty good about the choice.”