In his keynote the other week at the ITL Masterclass, Greg Gebhardt made an obvious but often overlooked point - the iPad is only just over two years old. So many of the other popular Android tablets have an even shorter timespan since introduction. But the device has made a serious impact in Australian schools and society in general. The main device of choice for delegates at that conference was the iPad and I was caught out in my session by being unfamiliar with how Tumblr functions on an iPad.
I've heard of many schools trialling and using iPads as a learning device - it seemed that at events, Apple Australia were pushing the 1 to 1 concept, a device for every student - and basically distancing themselves from the concept of shared tablet devices. But I have seen a handful of schools that are trialling the shared tablet idea - and it will be interesting to see where that leads. The fact is that not every school community can afford any form of 1 to 1 concept, and I know my school is looking more along the lines of "the right device for the right purpose" and not necessarily one device - tablet, notebook, or whatever - per student. I wonder if some of the advocates for 1 to 1 have ever been in a Category 1 or 2 school to see how financially challenging it can be meeting the various needs of the student community.
That is not to say that the students don't have access to personal technology like iPads and laptops. It certainly stands to reason that if an iPad is best as a individual's device, then the Bring Your Own Technology idea could have some legs.
We have two tablets at home. My eldest son has an iPad and my youngest has a Samsung Galaxy Tab. I like both devices and the fact that the Android device can basically play anything that the internet throws at it is a very big plus. But getting a suitable way for an eight your old to purchase a few apps through Google Play was a tricky proposition - there are no gift cards (a la iTunes) for Google, and we ended up using a prepaid Visa card to hook up to the account so he could purchase some apps. The Apple App Store is a very consumer friendly set up and is a great way to manage purchasing in the home. But that same scenario is a pain in the neck at school - Australia is yet to benefit from Apple's education volume licensing - so back up hacks are what has been recommended (unofficially, of course) to get any shared iPad scheme off the ground.
Every now and again, I wonder if I should succumb to the bug and buy a tablet. But it still feels like using an oversized iPhone to me - and I am not a fan of the Apple filtered version of YouTube on iDevices that is a pale imitation of browsing and viewing videos on a laptop or desktop on that site. But tablet prices continue to become more affordable and it will be interesting to see if the new and highly touted Microsoft Surface can make inroads into this part of the educational technology marketplace.