In my last blog entry I mentioned something to the effect of; let's wait and see how the tablet market plays out.
Oh silly me. Apparently not many people are waiting to see how it shakes out. They are jumping in to the deep end and hoping they know how to swim. In the Feb 28th edition of the San Diego Union there was a huge article on digital textbook initiatives around San Diego. San Diego County School District has made it known that they will purchase 20,000 ipads for the coming school year. We know that there are several thousand out there already in small pilot programs (some not so small as one Christian school purchased 1,700 just recently). The same pattern is happening across the world.
All of that is great for my Apple stock but, it is unclear today that Apple is the right choice for correct tablet for all of k-12. It might be for 9-12. Consider that you can get three 7” android based devices for the price of one ipad and kids in the k-8 have smaller hands and excellent eyesight. The latter being the essential ingredient for making 7” devices an integral part of education.
I consider myself the prototypical remote learner. I have taken two college classes and read numerous books since Apple announced itunesU which has been about three months. My personal technology stash is the ipad2, itouch2, a lenovo laptop tablet (which I don’t use as a tablet anymore because I lost the styles), a lenovo laptop proper and a desktop. I have an Android phone because Apple doesn’t support SWYPE. Oh, and on my home office desk I have an HP desktop and an HP laptop/workstation which is pretty high end and had some cool apps on it when I bought it fully furnished.
I use the ipad2 for work as a replacement for a laptop which took almost as much time to get used to as giving up red meat. But, both activities have been good for me. I use the pad for email and web and if I need something remotely, I just use a remote terminal session (itap in my case) and works perfectly for applications that run under the Microsoft oligarchy. I use a pretty sophisticated “notes” app which I use constantly. I have some home apps that work for me (like letting me record a program on directv that I forgot I wanted) and a password vault that secures all of my passwords. Oh, and facetime when I’m in a group and chatting with a relative. My grandkids prefer it over the itouch for games so it is pretty popular with them.
Otherwise, I spend 90% of my time on the itouch. I read constantly, take college courses constantly, listen to educational podcasts constantly and facetime every day with my dad. All on the itouch. It slips in my shirt pocket, I can set the font to whatever size I need for the time of day, I plug it into the audio system of my car (still the fm transmitter as my car isn’t new enough to have an ipod dock) and I literally wear the battery down every day because everything works just as well on the itouch as it does the ipad.
I applaud the schools for jumping in. I don’t even worry that they may or may not be making the right choice on platform because two years from now it will all be different (as it should be). The goal here is to get into play. Whether it is Apple of Android – just do it. Consider something like INTELLIGENT PAPERS which is a great app that turns digital textbooks into something that acts like paper. Take notes, highlight, do homework assignments outside the network (the only product that caches the content), and it supports the Flash content that is currently out there.
Oops, that’s right; Apple doesn’t support Flash and probably never will, though I have seen some Flash content working under the SKYFIRE browser. But, therein lays one of the choices you have to make when thinking of what tablet to choose. Apple doesn’t support Flash and a lot of current content (digital textbooks) have extended media in the form of Flash. This, along with the price, makes an Android decision pretty compelling. INTELLIGENT PAPERS works on both platforms and makes content delivery useful and levels the playing field because in most cases you can deliver the same content to both the Apple and the Android devices through your LMS (learning management system ie: Haiku).
I have visited many schools and watched kids in classes across the k-12 spectrum using both Apple and Android tablets. Regardless of the table choice the kids are more engaged, love the fact that they don’t have to lug 70 lbs of schoolbooks around if they are using INTELLIGENT PAPERS and fundamentally are learning more by accident rather than any preconceived evolutionary process of education.
Keep it going! More about the interaction of different educational conditions in the digital domain when I visit next.