What is Tablet Computing?

In the past two years, advances in tablets have captured the imagination of educators around the world. Led by the incredible success of the iPad, which in 2011-12 was selling at the rate of more than 3 million units a month, other similar devices such as the Samsung Galaxy and Sony's Tablet S have also begun to enter this rapidly growing market. In the process, the tablet (a form that is distinct from tablet PCs) has come to be viewed as not just a new category of mobile devices, but indeed a new technology in its own right, one that blends features of laptops, smartphones, and earlier tablet computers with always-connected Internet, and thousands of apps with which to personalize the experience. As these new devices have become more used and understood, it is clear that they are independent and distinct from other mobile devices such as smartphones, e-readers, or tablet PCs. With significantly larger screens and richer gesture-based interfaces than their smartphone predecessors, they are ideal tools for sharing content, videos, images, and presentations because they are easy for anyone to use, visually compelling, and highly portable.

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(1) How might this technology be relevant to the educational sector you know best?

  • There are an increasing number of STEM apps appearing (iOS, Android) which have not really become mainstream yet but should do. There is also the use of the tablets for field work too (geology, civil engineering, etc) - Nick Nick Aug 5, 2012
  • Tablets or low-cost laptops (OLPC, Intel Classmate) have been a major driver of technology implementation in low-income contexts. Increasingly, the low-cost laptops that changed the developing context educational technology space before are moving to look more like tablets, possibly making them even more accessible to new computer users. - jennifer.deboer jennifer.deboer Aug 8, 2012

(2) What themes are missing from the above description that you think are important?

  • The debate prior to the surge of interest in tablets was whether educational technology would be more affected by low-cost laptops or by phone technology. Increasingly, it seems like it will be a merger of the two as tablets take on the appeal of both technologies. - jennifer.deboer jennifer.deboer Aug 8, 2012
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(3) What do you see as the potential impact of this technology on STEM+ education?

  • visualization, modeling, and a complement/substitute for labs/manipulatives - jennifer.deboer jennifer.deboer Aug 8, 2012
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(4) Do you have or know of a project working in this area?

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