Friday, February 4, 2011

2011 - Year of the Personal Tablets and the Rabbit

It has been a while since I actually blogged about a topic and have been mostly posting Professional Development resources. 2011 in not only the hopping year of the Rabbit, it is also the very prosperous year of the tablet.

I have been watching the iPad, doing trainings and of course trying out apps. However, I would love a tool that had a little bit more and better designed for a school setting. Next came along the Samsung Galaxy Tablet with the cameras and the USB ports. Very handy for my personal life, but not sold on the educational value yet. Both are ranked in the Top 5 Tablets for 2010-2011. (Top 10 Tablets 1/10/11)

This past month, I have read Readicide, Focus, extensively examined the Common Core English Language Arts Curriculum Maps mapping out technologies to support these standards and read about the New York State 1.5 Billion Budget Cuts in Educational Funding, which is approximately 30-40 teaching in many of the districts I work in as an Instructional Coach.

I remember the CPS fad with schools buying into the Classroom Response Systems and now teachers can have kids use their cell phones using Polleverywhere.com to get the same results and it is 1500-2000 dollars cheaper than buying the classroom set of remotes, which are sitting in many districts unused. What child today that has a cell phone does not have unlimited texting? The average child sends about 3-4 thousand text messages a month. Why not model some good use for using these devices in the classroom. Well, that means updating attitudes and Acceptable Use Policies and some school districts are just not ready to do that.

Many school districts are looking to go to the 1-1 computing fad. In these financially economic hard times can we justify this movement? We can justify Problem Based Learning, but computers for every student as well? Has a needs assessment been done to see if the students will actually use these tablets? How durable are they? Or, has a trial test been done to actually see if they improve student learning and performance or is it just a fad?

Well, in pops the next set of Tablets. One that is actually created for the classroom called the Kineo. This one caught my attention and if you are an educator with a typical iGeneration class, I am sure this will catch your eye as well.



This device was announced and demonstrated at the Florida Educational Technology Conference in January 2011. Approximately three Kineo's can be purchased for the price of one iPad (with most memory); The Kineo sells for 299.00. So, is this an instructional tool that is needed? Well, if we look at the February 2011 issue of Educational Leadership and synthesize this article, my answer would be, "Yes". But, how do we get these for a school especially in the financially difficult times we are facing? Plus, is this a technology we really need. Doesn't curriculum drive the instructional tools used? Well, I would have to say "Yes" again. Since textbooks are going to a digital version, we need to prepare for this now in our districts long range planning since it will occur in the next three years. So how do we pay for this? Well, teachers and administrators are going to have to get creative. I highly recommend the old fashion art of grant writing.

My recommendation is a trial classroom set for a school and write a grant to get them. There are a lot of literacy grants out there that can be used for this, such as ISTE NYS Technology Grants and Dollar General Literacy Grants. As educators, we need to get creative in finding ways to get the tools we need for the classroom. These economic times are going to get much harder before they get better. We are doing our students a great injustice by not exposing them to the technologies that will better enhance our childrens learning. However, just as every child is different, so are schools and districts. Therefore, I have concluded that it is best for the educational community that services the children to decide which technologies, fads and reading program best meets their students educational needs - as long as it is driven by the basic curriculum. ;-)

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