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    You will probably feel disappointed…

    December 17th, 2013

    The mainstream news sites have over the last couple of months been talking about tablets. Despite cheap tablets been available for a while, there was a lot of press coverage when Tesco released the sub £100 Hudl tablet and the £80 tablet from Aldi that sold out in twenty four hours.

    Now there is a £30 tablet available, the UbiSlate 7Ci.

    UbiSlate 7Ci

    The key question, is it any good?

    Well the reviews of the Hudl and the Aldi Tablet were quite scathing, I would expect similar things to be said about this tablet.

    The UbiSlate 7Ci has wi-fi connectivity, but no mobile internet, however that is quite normal for lots of tables (including the iPad). It has 512MB of RAM and 4GB of storage. That lack of storage space means that you won’t be able to put too many apps on there and certainly not many video and audio files. Also with only three hours of battery life, you’ll be able to use it in the morning, but after that, you’ll have no luck.

    Yes it is very cheap, but personally I don’t see it as value for money as an educational device. It will be frustrating for learners who would want to use it all day. In addition the lack of onboard storage would cramp the sorts of content and resources you could keep and view on it.

    This isn’t to say that everyone should go out and buy an iPad, there are some decent Android tablets out there, I do like my Nexus 7, which is a really useful device and significantly cheaper than the iPad mini. However when looking at any device the key is that total cost of ownership, which includes how long will it last.


    iPad Off

    August 5th, 2013

    iPads

    I read this article in the Guardian about schools asking parents to buy their children iPads to support their learning.

    It’s quite a negative article, but in many ways I do agree with the sentiments behind it.

    Back in January I wrote an article, “I need a truck” in which I noted:

    The Essa Academy in Bolton has decided that the best way forward for them is to issue every learner and every teacher with an iPad. Now I am sure that they thought long and hard about it before making this choice, but I do wonder if they missed a trick?

    The first questions I would ask are: Is every learner the same? Do they all have the same needs and do they all learn in the same way in different contexts?

    I then went on to explain what I meant using a transport analogy. Read more…

    This echoes some of the sentiment in the Guardian article, but a lot less sensational! By the way don’t read the comments on the Guardian article, for a moment as I persued them I thought I was reading the Daily Mail or the Telegraph.

    If the parental comments are to be believed then the schools undertaking these kinds of iPad implementations haven’t really explained the “what” and the “why” they are doing this. I would suspect that this is because they may not actually know the “what” and the “why” and have seen other institutions, like the Essa Academy, are doing and believe that they should be doing the same.

    This paragraph astounded me

    Providing tablets is not an unquestioned money saver for schools. Honywood community science school in Essex gave all its 1,200 pupils a tablet computer for free, although it did ask for a £50 contribution towards insurance. The cost was estimated at around £500,000. But 489 tablets had to be replaced after a year, while four out of 10 needed to be sent for repairs.

    What on earth was happening in that school where 41% of the tablets had to be replaced and another 40% needed to be repaired. So 81% of the tablets were broken, or broke down in a year. Would be interesting to know which tablet they were using. Were the problems with the tablet itself, the way it was used, or was it because it was given to the learners for “free” they didn’t look after them. Probably a combination of all three, however still 81% is an incredible statistic.

    The problem with every learner having an iPad is that it many ways it can be restrictive. A lot of things can be done on an iPad, but in some ways other devices or tools may be better, faster or more efficient.


    Taking the tablets

    November 16th, 2012

    Taking the tablets: How are tablets being used in learning and teaching? What is the impact? What are we going and where might we finish up?

    Invited Speaker session by James Clay, ILT and Learning Resources Manager, Gloucestershire College, at a confrontation with reality, the 2012 conference of the Association for Learning Technology (ALT). Session given in Manchester, UK, on Tuesday 11 September 2012.

    Slides available here.


    Taking the Tablets

    September 11th, 2012

    James Clay presenting at ALT-C 2012

    Here are the slides from my presentation at ALT-C 2012 this morning.

    The tablet computer is not a new idea, but recently has had an impact on learning and teaching across a range of institutions in the UK and elsewhere. In this session I will try to tackle the following questions.

    What do we currently understand to be a tablet? What is the primary functionality? How are tablets being used right now for supporting, and enhancing learning and teaching? What sort of learning activities and scenarios are making best use of the tablet format? Are these devices for content consumption, content creation, interaction, or all three? So where next? Where will tablets take us? Do institutions purchase tablets for all their students? Or do we let or require students to buy and bring their own? And if the latter what does this mean for how we organise provision?

    I will conclude with a personal reflection on the overall direction of travel, and where I believe we may finish up.

    Photo source


    …and then everything changes

    July 2nd, 2012

    Over the last couple of months, on some of the learning technology mailing lists I belong to there has been a lot of discussion about tablets. Despite the fact that it dominates the market, considered by many to be an industry standard, popular with consumers and revolutionised the tablet market; there was a significant number of respondents on the mailing list who had decided that the iPad was not the right device for their learners and/or institution and were looking for some other tablet.

    There were also others on the list who felt that the iPad was an expensive toy…

    This attitude does surprise me slightly as, yes though Apple usually do charge more for their devices (and I guess this is where that attitude comes from) when it comes to the iPad they are one of the cheapest tablets on the market.

    Yes, you can buy cheap Android tablets from Amazon, but in terms of comparable specifications, I have found that most Android Tablets are just as “expensive” as the iPad, if not more so… The Motorola Zoom for example was £499, though now it is only £350.

    When it comes to WIndows tablets, Microsoft recently said in their Surface announcement that the price would be comparable with other Ultrabooks. Most Ultrabooks are in the £800-£1000+ price point, significantly more expensive than the iPad.

    The newest iPad is £399 and you can get last year’s model for £329. Yes you will need to pay more for increased storage and more for 3G, but the same can be said for Android devices.

    In terms of functionality, it is quite normal for someone to explain loudly how limited the iPad is and how much more functionality other tablet devices or Windows netbooks have.

    The iPad 1 didn’t have a camera, the iPad 2’s camera is poor quality. There is no USB port on the iPad, no way to add external USB storage. The screen resolution is poor, it doesn’t play DivX natively out of the box. There is no Flash player on the iPad, nor Silverlight. The OS is locked down, you can’t install any app on the iPad, you can’t tweak the OS, it doesn’t run Office! The on screen keyboard is “unusable” and you can’t plug in a USB keyboard… etc… etc…

    Then the “virtues” of other devices are added into the conversation. It has a proper keyboard, removable battery, proper USB port, good camera and it supports Flash!

    The problem with these arguments is that they often fail to take into account usability and the user experience. The reason that people like the iPad is very little to do with the hardware, but how the operating system works and their own user experience. The iPad is responsive and meets users’ expectations.

    A week ago my recommendation for a tablet would have to be the iPad.

    A week later, well a lot can happen in a week, and it did this week. It was a week that everything changed.

    What changed?

    The Google Nexus 7 was announced.

    Now it will be a few weeks before someone like me can get their hands on it, but this is the first Android Tablet that I think can be a real game changer when it comes to using tablets in education.

    Firstly it sounds incredible value for money, just £159 for the 8GB model, £199 for 16GB.

    It looks great and hopefully with Android 4.1, Jelly Bean, this will be a mature tablet operating system that just works, and works just as well as iOS does on the iPad.

    If this tablet is as well tweaked as the Google Nexus One was then this is going to be one useful tablet. The initial reviews talk of fast performance, beautiful screen. The only real failing is that 8GB is way too small! So if you are going to buy one, go for the 16GB model.

    I’ll be honest I have been meaning to buy an Android tablet for a while now. Most of the really cheap ones didn’t even run the tablet only version of Android, Honeycomb, but only ran 2.2, Froyo. Those that did run Honeycomb were quite expensive and in most cases more expensive than the iPad! I really quite liked the look of the Sony Android tablet devices, but the reviews were quite scathing, saying they were sluggish and not powerful enough. They soon dropped in price too, indicating poor sales.

    Things have changed recently, but I really do like the idea of the Nexus 7 and like the fact it will be running Jelly Bean the latest version of Android OS. So as they say, watch this space.