Will the Apple tablet be good news for K-12?

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Ipod classroomThe Apple tablet is supposedly a 9.6″, touch-enabled device with HSPDA selling for just under a thousand dollars. What it does exactly, what OS it runs exactly, what software it has exactly, no one outside of Apple knows. There are just rumors and supposed leaks like the latest today from a battery supplier.

But, even with the scarcity of details, there are some pretty good guesses about what a supposed Apple tablet might offer and what it would be used for.

Along these lines, I’ve wondered if a larger-iPod Touch would be ripe for K-12. It makes sense. Already, some schools are using the tiny iPod Touches as they exist now–small screens and all. Wouldn’t a larger displayed iPod Touch make even more sense.

I think so, but I’m not exactly sure that that’s where Apple is going with this new tablet. It does have HSPDA, for instance. That doesn’t make sense to me in a K-12 setting. WiFi is the smarter move.

For consumer products HSPDA is a good feature. A company can work with wireless carriers to offer contracts bundles that knock off a some percentage of the price. Don’t right–Kindle-style–there’s also no or little provisioning that needs to be done. The device just works out of the box when you get it. No WiFi passwords or tethering that you have to do first. Again, it just works. HSPDA-capable devices also give you greater access to the Internet, though, you do have to be somewhere where it’s supported or provides a good signal. Those are some of the key advantages of non-WiFi wireless.

However, none of these really make sense for IT-managed, classroom devices. WiFi seems like a better fit. So just this feature along leads me to believe that whatever Apple comes up with otherwise, if it has HSPDA connectivity as a key feature, it probably won’t be quite the iPod Touch big brother that at least K-12 might be looking for.

Why WiFi in a school? First and foremost because it can be locally managed. Second, it provides a single cost solution. You pay once for the Internet bandwidth and then provision it yourself. You don’t have to pay per device, which is the current model that Apple and carriers seem to be running with.

I might be wrong. There might be other features that would make it compelling, but it looks like there’s going to be room left for largish MIDs or Android tablets or Kindles or other holdable tablets to gain market share at least in the K-12 space.

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13 years ago

Will the Apple tablet be good news for K-12?
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