Just to get working things on iOS is so, so easy... I wish you could understand what a vast chasm it is between a real newcomer and making any kind of useful desktop application. There's so much more you have to know to get it working...
I'm not a newcomer, so it is difficult to understand that perspective. I have taught intro courses, so I have a sense of it. As far as how much you need to know to get a desktop app running on Windows vs. iOS, I'd still say you need to know significantly less. iOS development isn't bad at all, but it's certainly not the easiest option out there. (I'm thinking of Objective C and Lua here.)
I have no idea what tools you're making the comparison against, but I recommend dropping them immediately, as you're clearly making more work for yourself than should be necessary!
A BRAND NEW iPad Mini is just $329. What kind of computer are you going to get at that price, honestly? The iPad will last for three years or more too, can you say that about a $329 computer?
Kind of the minimum option, isn't it? As for what you can buy, there are quite a few options in the $200-$300 range that, obviously, will outperform the iPad mini and last 3+ years. If you're willing to buy refurbished, you have even more options.
You'd be amazed at how much life you can get out of a computer these days. Even a mid-range desktop from 2006 can easily meet the needs of the average user. I have little doubt that you'll easily get 3+ years out of a bargain basement $200-$300 computer purchased today.
All of this ignores the fact that many students already have access to a PC or are more likely have access to a PC than an iPad. That is, it's not necessarily an additional cost or consideration.
Or a cheap iPad keyboard case for $20 [amazon.com]...
That is cheap. Not a bad find. I'll recant the expensive bit, but will note that it is still an additional cost.
you seriously still do not understand the HUGE advantage the iPad also has in physical accessories?
No advantage at all! Even with every possible accessory, you still lack an incredible amount of the functionality you'll get out of a cheap netbook.
Of course, that's completely beside the point as the number of accessories has nothing to do with the iPad as an option for beginners to learn computer programming.
You are really, really doing beginners a disservice steering them into the rocky shoals of desktop development at this point in time, when there is a practical path before them
Who said anything about writing desktop apps? We're talking about learning to program, aren't we? There are tons of options. (For example, my younger brother taught himself to program by modifying and then creating his own game mods.)
As the the "practical path" the iPad is certainly NOT a practical path to learning how to program! (See my earlier list.) That it can be done is irrelevant. I can teach someone to program with a CARDIAC as well, but it wouldn't be the best choice!
I'm going to guess that's the issue here. You like the iPad and it can potentially meet that need, therefore it's at least a good option, and in your eyes it's the best option? I just can't get behind that. It doesn't make sense to me when there are (to some degree, objectively) better options on all of the criteria I listed, and I'm certain some criteria that I have not. (You're welcome to list your own criteria, it could be helpful.)
By steering beginners away from the iPad as platform to learn computer programming, I'm doing them a great service! I'm giving them more options. I'm giving them options that are far simpler for beginners than Objective C and Lua (which I think we both agree are not good first languages). I could even be saving them hundreds of dollars!
You're welcome to love the iPad all you want, but it's just not a good option for the task in question. Even if we could agree that it could be a viable option, that's a long way from "a good option" and further still from "one of the best options".
Be objective here. For the task at hand, is the iPad a good option in comparison to the other options available? The answer is pretty clear.