Recently a new education only tablet has been unveiled by Amplify, which is a division of News Corp. News Corp is owned by Rupert Murdoch, who also owns Fox News. Ok so first of all, if you automatically dismiss this tablet just because it is associated with Rupert Murdoch, you do yourself a disservice. Any time you apply ideological filters to people, you are outsourcing your thinking to somebody else. This makes you weak and easily manipulated. Instead, I encourage you to evaluate the idea on it’s merits. With that in mind let’s look at this gadget.
It’s amazing to me how low the prices of tablets are going and they are going to keep dropping. When the Raspberry Pi is a computer that cost $40, tablets will be much lower cost in just a few years. If this was just a low cost tablet, I would not pay any attention to this but apparently the tablet will come with all sorts of learning software, plus a fairly robust set of admin tools.
Here’s a video Amplify put out.
So here’s my thoughts. I think this tablet is aimed at supporting the current status quo in public education. Politicians love to spend money on technology to show their citizens they care about education but there are really two kinds of technology. First, you have technology that supports the status quo. I would put Interactive Whiteboards in this category because they enhance the teacher but leave the teacher as the center of the classroom. The second category is a disruptive technology. This would be something that lets the student direct their own learning. This sort of technology is usually banned, or ignored. This tablet system is designed to be locked down so the teacher can still direct everything that happens on it. It will help the teacher do their job more easily, which is certainly a good thing. It will generate a lot of data too, which I know is a big push in education today. Even so, the way you improve education outcomes is to let the students become stakeholders in the process. Currently students have virtually no say in what they learn and when.
So why is Amplify doing this? Simple: it’s a huge market with lots of money to be made. Here’s the bottom line: these types of systems will make the current system more efficient, but will not be transformative.
A little more at Ars-technica.