Monday, July 2, 2012

Will Tablets Continue To Shake Things Up In Education?

Google's Nexus 7 Tablet
Google released its new Nexus 7 tablet last week, and many have already opined on the tablet's value and how it is a strong challenger to both Amazon and Barnes & Noble. This is a natural comparison because of the price point ($199), the size (7"), and the fact that they all run some flavor of Android. In addition, all three companies position their products as media consumption devices.

With regards to the education market, the Nexus 7 may have some big advantages over the Kindle Fire and the current Nook tablet (it is impossible to say, at this point, what the B&N/Microsoft venture will bring). First, the Nexus 7 runs a less customized version of Android, which means users will have access to a much wider variety of apps. In addition, Google's tablet is optimized for using Google apps such as Gmail, Docs, and Chrome, which gives it a big leg up on other Android devices in terms of productivity. Finally, as this reviewer points out, the Nexus 7 is faster than other tablets in its category.

All this reminds me of a publisher who asked me back in 2010, when the first iPad was released, how long I thought his company had to convert animations and other interactivities from Flash to another format. I answered that they should have this completed by August 2012 to ensure competitiveness. And, right on schedule, Adobe announced last week that is would not be supporting Flash for Android 4.1 (Jellybean), the latest version of the OS (and  running on Google's Nexus 7).  At last, Steve Jobs pronouncement is fully realized. Now, if we can only get everyone to transform all of their legacy video.

Naturally, this talk about tablets brings me back to the bigger picture of educational technology. As Brian Kuhn asked after attending this years ISTE event, is technology revolutionizing education yet? The answer, of course, depends on how you define education; but with regards to traditional classroom instruction, my experience over the past year jives with Brian's answer.
I think the answer to the question I pose in the title for this post is yes, to some degree. But I don't think education has fundamentally changed in a critical mass of classrooms for most students. I think my answer will be very different in three or four years.
 At the same time, the use of tablets is increasing rapidly and the devices will change the ways we teach and learn. A good example of how these devices can change our interaction with students can be seen in Doug Ward's use of iAnnotate to grade papers and communicate effectively with his students.

Speaking of evolutions in education, I really enjoyed this video for Glenn Reynolds book, The Higher Education Bubble.

And, finally, Will Richardson makes a compelling argument for moving away from the notion of competition in our education system, and shifting instead toward cooperation.

But we need a different lens on a national level these days. At a moment where so much knowledge is at our fingertips, and when we’re facing so many seemingly insurmountable problems, we need to spend more of our time figuring out how to work together instead of work against each other. And this is especially true in education.

Suggested Reading

In Which we Review the Nexus 7 Tablet After Actually Using it
Steve Would Be Proud -- How Apple Won The War Against Flash | TechCrunch
Shift to the Future: Is Technology Revolutionizing Education Yet?
It's the Pedagogy, Stupid: Lessons from an iPad Lending Program ~ Stephen's Web
Grading with Voice on an iPad - ProfHacker - The Chronicle of Higher Education
Community College Spotlight | The higher ed bubble
Co-operation vs. Competition (vs. Collaboration) 
Your E-book Is Reading You | WSJ

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