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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