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What is the Potential Impact of the iPad, Kindle, and other Tablet Computers in Education?

Wayan Vota

With the rise of the iPad, Kindle, and similar eReaders and touchscreen devices, tablet-shaped form factor computing power has become much more portable and yet sizable. This holds great promise for educators on par with the introduction of slates, which swept across classrooms at the turn of the century before last. Back then, the personal transcription device of chalk and stone slate tablets was seen as revolutionary.

Now we can envision one iPad per teacher and student

The digital equivalent has an equal promise in revolutionizing both teaching and learning activities. Teachers can have instructional support, literally at their fingertips, in the learning environment. In fact, David Stevenson of Wireless Generation says that 7-inch tablets are perfect tools for classroom teachers. Students can also be empowered with individualized instruction – think Teachermates on steroids.

But is this just hardware hype?

Yes, the iPad is intuitive, the Kindle and Nook are cheap, and Android is Open Source, yet is the tablet form factor really all that? There is the immediate e-reader usage model, but what other roles can tablets play? And are those roles most cost-effective with digital devices vs. analog or even paper technologies?

Or might tablets just be the OLPC of 2011? Will touch screen tablets be exciting until the real costs for change become apparent? Or are iPads, Kindles and the like a real opportunity for innovative instruction that will surpass laptop and mobile phone promise and usage in the classroom?

Our goal: explore the potential impact of tablet computers in education

In this month’s Educational Technology Debate, we’ll hear from experts in education and technology on the promise and pitfalls of tablet devices in the developing world. We’ll also welcome participation with Slide2Learn – a conference on iOS device usage in education, April 18-19 in Queensland, Australia.

Please join us by subscribing to our posts and commenting on each with your thoughts, opinions and insights on using this new ICT in education.

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