Kid’s Hardware for the Fall Distance Learning

My wife and I have been discussing our hardware setup for the beginning of the Fall School Year during this COVID-19 reality.

Here is our situation:

  1. We have three kids. One is a high schooler and the other two are twins in 5th grade.
  2. Our daughter has a Macbook Air and we have a 2012 Mac Mini as a family computer. I use a Macbook Pro 16 inch as my work and personal computer.
  3. School District used Microsoft Teams last year for distance learning. But our school district has not announced any plans for the Fall as yet. The state has mandated that school districts must announce their plans before August 1. We start in September after Labor Day.

I let the kids use my Macbook last Fall but it was not the best solution. I need my MacBook for work. I would like to get another device for them to use for their work. I am wondering what others are using for kids devices, especially when you have multiple kids working at the same time.

The things I was considering were:

  1. Buy a new family Mac. But our 2012 Mini does adequate job for what the family needs. I was not planning on replacing this as of yet, and wanted to wait for the new Apple Silicon Macs.
  2. Buy an iPad. This might be sufficient for the kids. It would run teams, and I can now set up with a keyboard and mouse.
  3. Buy a cheap Windows laptop. I am sure it would work well with Teams. I don’t think it would have any other use than homework. I have not used Windows for 10+ years (XP) so I am a little concerned about maintenance and support of an addition device outside the Apple ecosystem.
  4. Buy a Chromebook. Don’t know anything about Chromebooks or how well this would work with Teams.

Other solutions? What are your setups for your kids?

1 Like

Disclaimer: I’m a student. So I might not have any useful idea what you’re talking about.

That said, I say get an iPad. I can confirm it works well with Teams as I work off an iPad Pro.

Get a couple of these:


I suggest the iPad. The touch interface makes using Teams a bit more natural.

Get the 12.9" Pro – since they will be spending a lot of time in front of Teams and other sites. Better order right away, since Apple (as of June 21) shows that iPad Pro 12.9" with the basic storage (128GB) will not deliver until August 27. If you get more storage (which I recommend if they are downloading more media) then it might be tight getting the device in time for school.

Almost al U.S. kids will be distance learning all or most of the time, this fall, so there will be pressure on manufacturers to deliver devices and parents looking to upgrade or do what you’re doing. Check out your district’s plans for providing technology to kids, too. Some areas are guaranteeing they will have devices for any child that needs one.

Wait until your school(s) announce their plans before spending money.

Our school is all-in on chromebooks and had enough to send one home with each kid AFAIK. My son’s partially broke and rather than wait 2 months for the school to repair it, we bought one of our own. Once he signed in with his school account, everything was automatically downloaded and set up so he could pick up exactly where he left off.

1 Like

I would check how well Chromebooks work with teams. Then pick between Chromebook and iPad. A mid-tier Chromebook is WAAAY nicer and faster than a similarly priced Windows Laptop, and will have zero admin issues.

1 Like

We bought our kids the base level iPad. So far so good with their summer camps. Target had them on sale at the time for 250…I’d bet there will be more discounts as retailers try to sell hardware for the new year. We didn’t buy the keyboard case or pencils yet. If they need one, I’ll lend them my bluetooth keyboard.

If you can, wait until the school district announces its plans. iPads are fantastic devices but unless you’re absolutely certain that they can do everything required, they’re also something of a risky gamble.

School is going to be stressful for kids (and parents and teachers) in the fall. Conforming as closely as possible to the school’s suggested equipment will help to reduce the tech related stress.

I don’t think there are going to be things you can’t do on iPad in elementary/secondary school.

I think that really depends on the software that will be used. I love my iPad (using it now) but I cringe when I have to use some crapware web app with it.

Hi. I’m a school admin.

It really all depends on the platform your school uses. I can tell you that Microsoft teams doesn’t work on Mac as well as on pc. So while i love the Mac and Ipad, if the main platform is teams, a pc might be the best solution. If that’s the case plan on spending $500 at least for a good pc laptop with an ssd. :slight_smile:

oh yeah! totally agree on that one.

well, Teams still works pretty well on Mac and iPad. I have not ever had any issues. I would strongly recommend getting something Apple-based as a PC would either:

  1. have less durability, worse UX, or generally lack of Apple polish
  2. cost a lot of money
1 Like

Most schools use google drive and google drive is not integrated with ipad version of teams. If that isn’t an issue you could possibly use an iPad.

If money is not a deciding factor, the new MacBook airs are great machines. Even used/refurbished are good options.

There’s an interesting conversation on synchronous vs. asynchronous approaches that has relevance here:

Will your kids all need access to devices at the same time(s)?

My vote would be for iPad because you can also use it as a second monitor with Sidecar or Duet etc. from your MBP, at times when the kids aren’t using it.

I am leaning towards an iPad. But we had issues in the Spring that some of the learning sites the teachers used did not work well in Safari on the Mac. They worked on Chrome and I eventually made Chrome the default browser to avoid continued issues.

I imagine we will have same problems on iPad if teachers continue to use the same sites. And I doubt using Chome on the iPad will fix the issues like it did on the Mac.

Fortunately we have multiple devices and can have kids juggle devices when something doesn’t work. But I don’t plan on making any purchases until our school district announces the plans for the Fall.

The kids usually want to get their work done when they get up so they can have the rest of the day free. Mom and dad like that to be able to get their work done. So they are all working at the same time. My daughter is self-sufficient. But our younger sons take constant monitoring.