I was in my office configuring a Dell XT Tablet for one of the Math educators at the school last week and had a thought. What is the future of Tablet PC's in education? I've had many people visit the school and discuss their 1:1 laptop programs, their success their failures and everything in between. I've had discussion about everything from battery charging to leasing options and one thing is for certain, sustaining a laptop program is another challenge in the list of challenges that public education faces. Matter of fact, in private schools and charters someone still needs to purchase, replace and maintain laptops and even if you're purchasing a $350 netbook for a small school of 400 we're talking about $140,000 to start.
Money aside, the benefits of using tablets in the classroom are numerous. I asked a few of the learners that used the tablets this past year to provide me with some feedback:
· Lighter than many other Laptops
· Pen tool (Easier use of paint and Journal)
· Charger is smaller
· Makes the use of computers so much more fun
· Eliminates paper use
· Supplies extra USB ports
· Touch screen
"Also I think that the computers are a better way to do group things people can take turns writing things if you have to draw up a group project. Also if you have to show someone your computer it is much easier to turn your computer around and show them. "
So having had many conversations with the kids about what they want out of their technology I started thinking about what the future of Tablets would be and of course I've been keeping tabs on the emergence of an alleged Microsoft device called the Courier. I cannot confirm or deny its existence, I can only speculate like the rest of you about whether a device like this will emerge from Microsoft. If you're not familar with the Courier, do a search and you'll find a handful of people that say it will never see the light of day and others who have said they've seen and know that it will emerge later this year.
Will we see the Courier? I don't know, I do know that a device like this would have many applicable uses in a classroom for both college bound kids or K-12 educators. Think of the amount of paper that is used in schools for miscellaneous things like note taking, scrap paper, or class notes. A device that can address multiple scenarios like that will definitley have an impact, and the only thing left to figure out would be pricing.