The CITE, a blog published by the National Association of College Stores, takes a look at the intersection of education and technology, highlighting issues that range from course materials to learning delivery to the student experience. Comments, discussion, feedback, and ideas are welcome.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

K-12 Schools Trying Out Tablets

A growing number of K-12 school districts, anxious to save money while preparing students for 21st-century work, are purchasing iPads in lieu of print textbooks and sometimes instead of desktop computers. Districts view the tablets as more budget-friendly than computers and more versatile than books for class use.

Across the U.S., there are tales such as this one in Seattle where the district decided all 181 middle-school youngsters should bring their own iPads to class this year. Students who couldn’t afford to buy one could borrow from a pool of 100 tablets bought with funds originally designated to replace several computers.

According to an investors’ report cited by C/Net, PC sales to the K-12 market are dwindling at about the same rate as K-12 iPad sales are rising, indicating schools are switching to tablets. They’re not just buying iPads, either.

Kuno, a tablet created specifically for K-12 use by the CurriculumLoft company, is among the Android gadgets competing head-to-head with the iPad for school sales. Business2Community says Kuno is attractive to district decision-makers because its base model costs 25% less than an iPad and it comes with built-in filters to protect kids from accidentally (or intentionally) accessing web content they shouldn’t.

Samsung is also working with Memphis, TN, schools on a new tablet system geared to K-12 grades. Each tablet comes with a stylus that lets students hand-write notes, which can be converted to type and saved.

Why are tablets getting all the attention from school districts and not e-readers such as the Kindle or the Nook, given their lower price point? In the view of Good E-Reader blogger Michael Kozlowski, it’s mainly because most e-readers lack text-to-speech software for vision-impaired pupils and can be more cumbersome to use.

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