However, having said this, there are several drawbacks associated with tablets that may not make them an ideal choice for schools and students. For example, to work effectively, you need a robust wireless network, which are expensive to install, manage and maintain. Also, the storage and computing power of tablets is limited as compared to a laptop or desktop computer. Here is an example based upon my own experience. The school district provides me with a 6-year old laptop. Because of software and storage needs, I have added additional RAM and installed a larger hard drive. I was able to do both of these things pretty easily and for around $100. Our Technology Department (TIS) was able to easily copy my existing hard drive and install all of my existing programs and data onto the new drive. This ability has greatly expanded the functional life of this computer by several years.
I have purchased an 32 GB iPad2 to share with teachers and students for AT trials. I have a very limited amount of pictures, music or data. However, I have already had to remove applications because the 32 GB storage was not nearly enough space. I can't install a new hard drive to expand the space - the iPad you purchase is the one you get. When the battery needs to be replaced, I will either need to purchase a specialized kit which will void any warranty or take it to an Apple service provider to get a new battery. Another example, is a first generation iPod. These iPods that are only a few years old can no longer run the current iOS, so they are functionally becoming obsolete as apps are upgraded to run on the newest iOS.
The number of apps available is growing. However, the apps tend to be for "consumption" of materials such as reading email, playing simple games and not necessarily for the "production" of materials. There are exceptional communication and digital story telling applications and the portability and video, audio and editing capacities of tablets and smartphones remarkable. However, there are an amazing number of Web2.0 tools that are largely free that can't be accessed by tablets. This may change as tablets are being created with more powerful Intel chips that support full use of the internet including Flash and Java.
So when making decisions about what best works, we need to focus on what a students needs as a tool and not what is the current fad.