"Is the hassle of managing the iPad, realizing that GoogleDocs doesn't work well with this device, worth it?" So far, the answer appears to be "Yes!" among students and teachers involved in iPad projects.
Having seen firsthand how fascinatingly frustrating planning an iPad deployment in K-12 schools can be--the whole problem is, they weren't made to be managed--I found the following account worth reading:
Purchasing the iPads was the easy part. Managing them is another matter. Dean Shareski says that “iPads are meant to be owned, not managed.” I think he is correct, but managing them still needs to be done for my grade one students. Managing them is the nuts and bolts that makes our iPad classroom run. Truthfully, the management has turned out to be more work than I imagined. Setting up email on each device (gmail worked the best), syncing apps, updates to firmware, making (and re-making) folders and keeping the devices charged has kept me busy. My IT department has been supportive, but they are clear that this is my job and not theirs. I am not complaining–I wouldn’t trade this opportunity for anything–but it has meant a great deal of learning and planning. (Source: Managing: The Nuts and Bolts of an iPad Classroom)
After reading that account, and exploring this question in my own work, the following question suggests itself--"And, implementing iPads was supposed to make things easier?" Obviously, there are still a few bugs to work out once you get past the initial thrill of doing something with the magic iPad.
This comment illustrates that opposing viewpoint:
Dr. Tom Keating has left a new comment on your post "#GAFE on iPads and Other Questions":While Dr. Keating's point about Chromebooks may reflect his experiences, I can't help but look the Google gift-horse in the mouth and wonder, "Uh, how come we're not doing inexpensive linux netbooks in lieu of Chromebooks?" Now before iPad lovers start pounding on my door, please keep in mind I own one, have crafted a frankenstein iPad implementation guide (parts stolen from others implementations), as well as researched this. I have money down on the iPad, so to speak, and I keep wondering, "Uh, how come we're not doing netbooks?"
We have been piloting GAFE on ipads and Chromebooks in middle school classrooms this Spring. As might be expected given Google's involvement, Chromebooks work seamlessly. From an IT standpoint there is minimal need for support. Things just work.
Counterintuitively given Apple's history, iPads are extremely difficult to deploy in classroom settings. These are meant to be one-to-one consumer devices tied to a user account linked to a credit card of some sort. Many of the sharing features in Google Docs are minimally implemented.
One student's review summed it up -- "Chromebooks are for school work and iPads are for entertainments." There should be a happy medium. We are still trying to find it.
The reason why is that these devices ARE magical...so magical, it may be like hoping a unicorn will find its way into your stable of locomotion critters. Maybe, a pegasus--like a charter school with deep pockets, endless cheap labor--would be better company.
Students aren’t daunted by the iPad interface. They may take time to experiment and understand steps required to produce an outcome, but they will persevere. Having observed students at different stages of learning, across many subjects, it has become clear that students aren’t a barrier to learning with the iPad. If a process doesn’t work for a student they will try something different. They collaborate with peers to produce quality work and will heed advice to move forward. (Source: syded)
This realization isn't far from my remarks about it being tough for adult learners--accustomed to PCs--to switch or create a new workflow. Let's hope that the magic of the phrase "staying the course" hasn't fallen out of favor like past presidents....