Schools in Finland are buying tablets like crazy now. The weird thing is that nobody really knows what they are really good for in school environment, but everybody seems to see good potential in them. That's why we are also experimenting with tablets.
In my aim to find an answer to the question: "can our teachers replace laptops with tablets?“ I've done a little testing. But before we look at that, let's just have a short look at the presumptions one could have about using tablets and that, in fact, I did have before starting out.
In this post I will deal with writing on the android -tablet, Acer Iconia 500 tab, I've been trying out for a about a week now. While I do this I'm projecting my mind, so to speak, into a classroom and school setting.
Why is someone interested in the possibilities of using tablets or pads in education? Well, it's novel. New technology and tools that let's the user access and do stuff with digital data in new ways is interesting. Combine this with the ongoing trend of developing pedagogical practice by the use of new tools in education and you have it. At the BETT 2011 fair in London the Ipad was present and attracted some attention. What seemed then to be the main points of interest in these devices was
- The touch interface, i.e intuitive ways for children to process pictures etc.
- The mobility and lightweightness of the pads
- The brand
Thank you Andreas Lagerkvist for Live Search plugin. iThis will turn a normal form input element in to a live ajax search widget.
Smartboard participated in the project later than other with a short quick notice, so we couldn't give it as much time as for others. Here at Opinsys we are most familiar with Smartboards as our customers have been using them for some time. Having a test whiteboard outside production systems gave us a chance to test the hardware and newest software throughly. SB680 uses resistive layer on the whiteboard to recognise touch, so it can be used with the accompanying pens or finger. The test hardware didn't have loudspeakers, so those weren't tested.
Promethean is traditional wallmounted interactive whiteboard. The model in our tests was pen controlled Activboard ABV378S300. Touch is recognised when the pen touches the board physically. The tested whiteboard didn't have loudspeakers, so we couldn't test how well they work with linux, but in our understanding there are such models available. The whiteboard looks nice and robust, the canvas feels also durable.
MimioTeach is quite different from other tested whiteboard models as it doesn't actually have a whiteboard, but just a receiver that can be placed on any flat surface. It is meant to be used with normal inkboards, but really any surface should work. Touch recognition is done with a pen that makes quiet buzzing noise when it touches a surface. The receiver then listens to the buzz and translates it to mouse coordinates.