Jiva Technology

Education, the iPad and Step-change Innovation

After some initial scepticism by the market watchers, it would seem that iPad fever is in full swing at the moment, with all the attendant noise, PR and a headlong rush by the Taiwanese to produce clones to join the party. For my own part, it was the latter that made me sit up and take notice. From what I’ve read, iPad style tablets based on Google Android operating system will be hitting the streets shortly in the $100-200 range, roughly translating to a £100-200 price tag, or something similar to the cost of an iPod Touch.

This made me think. Despite common perceptions, innovation never happens in smooth progressions, it happens in step changes, followed by periods of calm and I sense we’re about to see just such a shift in the way we educate our children. Here’s a few reasons why:

One: the emergence of clever, education focused applications. I’ve blogged before about the heaps of cool start-ups focusing on education and the US VC’s that have been backing them with money.

Two: the device. Up until now, the target platform has been the PC/Mac, but there’s a couple of reasons why a tablet is a much better idea in the classroom. It weighs less; with all the books and PE kit they have to carry, adding a laptop would be the straw that breaks your children’s back. Its more appealing. Its less unwieldly. Who’s got space on the average desk for text books (they won’t be going away soon), exercise books, pens and a laptop. It plays music.

Three: money. You wouldn’t risk your child taking a £600 iPad, Macbook or laptop to school in their rucksack, no matter how cool they thought it was. But plenty of kids take their iPod Touch. So why not a £120 Android based tablet?

Three: a generational change in attitudes. From the dawn of time to the days until my days at school, education hadn’t changed much. My children think that’s because I was educated at the dawn of time, but the reality is that a couple of millenia didn’t really change much. But as the Horizon Report shows, the current “Facebook Generation’ don’t really understand why they have to travel back in time whenever they enter the classroom. They’re hungry to use the cool stuff inside the classroom as well.


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