Everyone in education is talking about tablet computing. The days of comparing the various quirks of Interactive Whiteboards has ended and teachers are looking at the next big thing. At second level, tablets are an ideal technology resource, even if they simply just replace the textbook. However, at primary level, where we’re not so stuck to a textbook, tablets offer interesting discussion points.
Hot off the blocks to hit the education market were Apple with their iPad. Early adopters of tablets had only one realistic choice and the iPad was it. However, with the rise of Android and now the entry of Microsoft (and to a much lesser extent, Blackberry), we now have a number of major companies vying for a slice of the education market.
For me, a tablet has a couple of advantages over a laptop or desktop. The main one, for me, is the fact that they are instantly on. That is, you press a button and you can be online in less than 5 seconds. A Windows laptop or desktop takes about 1-2 minutes to get warmed up. Aside from that, tablets have a decent battery life and they are generally easy to use.
The problems with some tablets are the lack of a keyboard, the lack of easy connectivity to a projector and the lack of Flash.
Most of the problems above are easily rectified with a dongle or plug or some sort of other device.
However, with regards to Flash, Apple (and, now, Android) say Flash is dead.
I would argue that Flash is certainly not dead in the education sector. Almost all decent online educational content is written in Flash. I find it bizarre to hear people saying that there is no need for Flash or that one can download an app to watch Flash videos. I don’t want to watch Flash videos, I want to play games; and almost all educational games on the web are written in Flash.
If Microsoft’s Surface does allow full Flash access, I think that they could be the victors in the war of the tablets at education level. I also think that if they sell the familiarity argument – i.e. all your PCs and laptops are Microsoft – this could be another feather in their cap.
It’s a while since Microsoft have been the underdog in a technology fight but I think given the above weapons, it could be enough to bring them back to being the kings of the education sector.