I have to apologize for not blogging sooner. I have just started a new career in insurance, and have been busy studying and passing tests. I love "teaching" people one-on-one rather than 20 to 1, but the regulations associated with insurance are 10 times worse than anything in teaching. More on that later.
As you probably know, this summer I debated the type of computer to get my daughter for high school. After much debate, we finally settled on an iPad and are working out the bugs associated with any new technology. So, I was intrigued when my oldest daughter got a brochure about technology at UW-Madison where she will be a freshman in a couple of days. Part of it was an FAQ with this question: "Laptop vs. Netbook vs. Desktop". Apparently, the UW doesn't think tables are worth mentioning as a "real" computing device.
What do you think? Do you know anyone who is using a table at college? How is it working for them?
On May 19, Amazon announced that, less than four years after their introduction, the sales of Kindle books surpassed those of hardcover and paperbacks combined. What’s even more amazing is that this does NOT count free eBooks, but DOES count printed books that are not available on the kindle. While I couldn’t find any sales statistics like that for Barnes and Noble, I think it’s safe to say they aren’t quite as good due to their physical stores. Still, it’s another nail in the coffin for printed material. How long will it be before books go the way of Beta tapes?
This survey was sent out mostly to technologically savvy educators, and they overwhelmingly said a laptop computer was the way to go. Officially, it was 70% laptop, 30% tablet, 0% desktop. Sorry, desktop makers. :-(
Now, I challenge you to ask a bunch of 8th, 9th, or 10th graders what they want. I would not be surprised if the results were exactly flip-flopped: 70% tablet, 30% laptop. Why? There may be a lot of reasons, but the reality is – It really doesn’t matter. Our students want and will be getting tablets for graduation. The real question is – what are we going to do about it?
These really cool looking tablets don’t necessarily fit into our game plan. But not only should they fit, we will be doing a disservice to our students if we don’t make them work. We need to figure out how to make them work for us when we are geared toward a laptop world. Is this going to be a problem?
Suppose a parent comes to you with the "tablet or laptop" question. What will you tell them? If we look at all of the advantages and disadvantages of both, which one comes out on top?
Which one is easier to carry all day?
Which will last longer without needing to be recharged?
Both can type papers, do Internet research, email assignments, etc. , so which has the advantage? Certainly a keyboard is necessary for any lengthy papers, but will a virtual keyboard suffice for taking notes in school? Remember to put yourself in the shoes (or fingers) of the student here. Does the “coolness factor” or whatever other reason for getting a tablet outweigh the disadvantage of clumsy typing?
When my daughter asked about getting a tablet, I had the same initial response as most of you: A laptop would definitely be better (and cheaper). But, as I researched it more, I have come to the conclusion that a tablet might be better. The bottom line for me came down to one question: Which one will be used more? Getting a tool that a student WANTS to use versus one they HAVE to use can make a huge difference.
So, teachers be prepared. When I come to you, I am not going to be asking which one to get. I am going to be asking you how my daughter will be using her new tablet in your class. What will you say?
PS I know most tablets don’t have DVD players, some don’t do flash, and there are other reasons why laptops might be better. But, the point is tablets are here to stay in some form or another. We have to adapt to this new environment just the same as we adapted to laptops when they were the newest tech on the block.
I will be tweeting the results, so if you are interested click to follow me.
Dave's Affordable Design is in the Technology Education and Consulting business. Read more about Dave here.