An open letter to Apple, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and anyone making tablets,
Your projects miss the mark for educators; they are close...but they miss the mark. For one, Apple, your iPad is priced out of most classrooms. I own one, and I have visions of what this type of hardware can do for education, but right now it is akin to the invention of paper. Very expensive. And blank.
Barnes and Noble, I bought a Nook Color along with a N2A cards to allow for it to easily jump into mode, and now you are releasing a Nook Tablet. You actually did very well under our education tests, but your screen is very difficult to work with; it is "sticky" and unresponsive too often. I will also add that the fact that you are still a brick and mortar business shows. We called you. And someone answered and agreed to come to our school to show us what the Nook Tablet could do for teachers and students. You had a specialist who dealt with the Nook, and you had someone with knowledge of education--they could cite local schools using Nooks and how they were being used.
We asked if you could show us if the Nook Tablet could allow for student creation--could we create and write on a Nook with Wikispaces, Google Docs, Blogger, and Moodle...could this device be used to create digital writing? (We already knew part of the answer because we tested you.) And you answered honestly, you didn't know, but you listened, and promised you would ask someone else for us, and then you set up an appointment at our school. You are coming to us. And, in the end, your product may not be able to do what we need it to do, you earned big points for your effort on the phone with me. I will be a more conscious consumer of B&N products in the future, especially considering our experience with Amazon.
R.I.P Borders brick and mortar stores. You are sorely missed already. We called Amazon to ask a few questions about the Kindle Fire and got someone on the phone who read to us from a script--he anticipated every question with a response so highly polished that some came no where near providing an answer to specific question we asked. We asked if Amazon had someone in education we could speak with--no. We asked if we could speak to someone who had specific knowledge of the Fire as it could relate to use in schools--no. We asked if someone could come out to our school with a Kindle Fire to show us what it could do for our students--no. We asked if we could write with Wikispaces, Google Docs, Blogger, and Moodle--you told us we could browse the web. You told us we could buy a Fire and just return it after 30 days. You were not helpful.
A change is coming in education--technology is bearing down on us and as many have noted in their own language, the schools standing today no longer serve the needs of the young people we are putting in them.
Apple, you went after the education market many years ago and you seized control of a nice chunk of it. You have a chance to own it...but you are letting others leverage themselves. Look at the mad scramble to create an android tablet which could compete for consumer dollars against the iPad. No one has really done it yet, but there is a way in if you don't take care of business.
Imagine the money you could save education if a tablet were in every student and teacher's hands--and that is what we all read from, wrote on, shared with.
Imagine the shift in how dollars are spent...now they are spent on textbook purchases, rebinding, and replacing.
Imagine the ePad--an iPad for education where students can use all of the tools needed to create and share podcats, video, blogs, documents, multi-media projects and still use the web and an in-house school email client.
Imagine that the ePad allowed for the download of texts and supplemental readings from other books, magazines, newspapers in our content areas.
Imagine that schools could spend money on training its teachers how to best prepare young people for the digital evolution in our smart phones.
Can you imagine that many teachers still fear the technology? Can you imagine that these computers (our smart phones) are banned in some schools and that they are seen as a distraction to education?
Can you imagine leading the evolution...truly leading it?
Can you imagine making this tool affordable for all schools?