A video report from the IFA consumer electronics show in Berlin (featured in the NZ Herald today) confirms what we've all suspected – tablet technology is taking over. From the perspective of education, this heralds new challenges and new opportunities for those seeking to integrate ICTs into life at school. Firstly there's the whole issue of shifting thinking from the use of the keyboard to touch as a primary way of interacting with the device. Secondly there's the big issue of 'who owns the device'?, with increasing numbers of schools moving towards a BYOD policy.
Certainly, the combination of (a) tablet-style, portable, internet capable devices, (b) personal ownership of these devices by students, and (c) access via high speek broadband networks is driving a very different paradigm of ubiquitous computer use that we need to be planning for in our schools and tertiary insititutions.
In several school ICT reviews I've completed recently a similar pattern of concern has emerged – that despite the very best efforts of the school and its community to increase access to computers through increasing the numbers of labs, COWS, laptops etc., staff feel they're disadvantaged because they don't always have access to them for their classes when they want/need them.
Solutions such as increasing the number of labs, adding more pods, more COWS, more loan-out laptops etc are all suggested – but the real issue is that we're now facing a situation where nothing less than complete ubiquity will satisfy, and this will require a complete shift in thinking from school-owned, school-managed devices located in school-determined settings – to personally-owned, portable, accessible-on-demand devices that are carried by students wherever they are learning.
The tablet developments illustrated in the video above are just another step in this direction – and we need to be taking notice.