Saturday, November 19, 2011

Tablets in the Classroom

digital bling

What is thin, shiny, and popular? It isn’t the outdated fade of wearing “bling-bling.” Instead, it’s "them-there" smart phones, tablets, and eBook readers.

With the advent of the wireless Internet, it was only a matter of time before the Internet became mobile. Now, all the telecom companies’ commercials are promoting their 3G/4G capabilities. Too often, teachers, parents, and society have looked at teenagers with disapproval as they network, surf, and play games with their mobile devices.

Well, if you can’t beat them, join them. It was only a matter of time before schools started to look toward using this once distracting technology. To better enhance our Personal Learning Networks, we, as professionals, need to “plug into” the same tech students interact with on a daily basis. Instead of mindlessly surfing and texting, let's make meaningful learning and creating experiences out of these mobile devices.


Smart Phone

Of course there are more "smart phones," but the iPhone4S and Android-based phones standout among the rest. According to Consumer Reports, the iPhone 4 had some reception problems and now the version 4S has fixed this static. They went on to state, "the newer phone did not display the same reception flaw, which involves a loss of signal strength when you touch a spot on the phone’s lower left side while you’re in an area with a weak signal." Consumer Reports also stated that the iPhone5 with iOS 5 will fix the iPhone4S "bugs."

As a result, Android-based phones are the performing better and receiving better reviews than the iPhone4S. Two phones that score higher with consumers are the Samsung Galaxy S II phones and Motorola Droid Bionic. Apparently, battery-life is an issue with the latter; as a result, I would suggest the Samsung Galaxy S II phone through AT&T, which is priced $50 dollars cheaper than the Droid through Verizon.

Samsung Galaxy S II



Tablet Wars I is a video-podcast from the blog website netbooknews. This website provided a decent amount of information on a wide variety of tablets.



  • Operating System: iOS
  • CPU: ARMCortex A9 2-core 1.0 GHz
  • Memory: (512 MB) 16 GB/32 GB/64 GB
  • Display: 9.7”
  • Price: $499-$829 from Amazon 4/5 stars (425 reviews)



This is the champion. It has proven itself as a powerhouse with great educational potential.



If your not a Mac person, this product might bug you. One issue many people have with the iPad 2 is the lack of a USB port. Adapters have to be bought to connect another out of the ordinary.

Verdict: This tablet provides one stop shopping. Students can use a word processing app, video apps, recording apps, note-taking apps, science apps, geography apps, dictionary apps, etc.


HP Touchpad

  • Operating System: Palm WebOS
  • CPU: Qualcomm SnapDragon Scorpion 2-core 1.2 GHz
  • Memory: (1024 MB) 16 GB/32 GB
  • Display: 9.8”
  • Price: $229-$274 from Amazon with 4/5 stars (566 reviews)


HP Touchpad has mixed reviews that add up to 4 out of 5 stars, and it is fairly cheap.


Released in July, it seems a little too new for me. Additionally, on the TouchPad’s homepage, there is a section entitled Five ways to get your webOS table working again . So, this tells me there are issues, which is almost always the case with new products. The initial round of a new product usually has problems. That is why there are versions like 1.0, 2.0, 3.0, 4.0, or even 4.0S. These versions usually work out all of the “bugs.”

My Verdict: Again, too new to buy on a large scale.


Kindle Fire

  • Operating System: Android 3.0
  • CPU: ARM Cortex A9 2-core 1.0GHz
  • Memory: 8 GB
  • Display: 7”
  • Price: $199


It’s cheap small and easy to use for reading and Internet usage. As compared to the iPad2, USB ports are always a plus.


However, Kindle fire is not out yet. Again, I would not want to wait for the first round of Kindle Fires. Instead, I would wait to see how this tablet performs. Sure the Kindle Fire has popular apps like Angry Birds and Plants vs. Zombies, but these apps don’t have educational value. Nook is making a comparable tablet that may be cheaper and better.

My verdict: These tablets from Kindle and Nook have the most potential for educational use, but they are theoritcal right now. In theory they have the many perks. Without real-world reviews, it is difficult to trust this product.


Samsung Galaxy Tablet(s)

  • Operating System: Android 3.0
  • CPU: ARM Cortex A9 2-core 1.0GHz
  • Memory: (1024 MB) 16 GB/32 GB
  • Display: 10.1”
  • Price: $499 from Amazon 4/5 stars (312 reviews)


Android app market place offers 150,000+ apps. Many people swear by the Android 3.0 Honeycomb operating system. After watching a few demonstration videos, the system looks extremely easy to manipulate. Websites, windows, and apps are easily stored in the Honeycomb organization system. It has a USB port that can connect to several devices. So, an external keyboard would easily connect to the Samsung Galaxy. Finally, it is compatible with Adobe Flash. This means, many Flash-based educational websites that are off limits to Apple operating system are completely open to the Samsung Galaxy.


Tiger Direct provides this sales pitch video on YouTube. Of course, they are trying to sell the Samsung to you, but it is a fairly informative video and website.

I found the following video entitled Top Tablets for 2011 on YouTube without commentary. This video reviews the tablets based on hardware and features in a table format. Try to overlook the geeky music and watch for the differing features.

There are more and more companies creating their version of the tablet. The proceeding list is not an exhaustive list of tablets, but it lets you know that there are options.
  1. ACER Iconia Tab A500
  2. Apple iPad 2
  3. ASUS eeePad Transformer
  4. DELL Streak 7
  5. EXPOC
  6. Hewlett-Packard TouchPad
  7. HTC Flyer
  8. Kindle Fire
  9. LG G-Slate
  10. Motorola Mobility XOOM
  11. Nook Tablet
  12. Notion Ink ADAM
  13. RIM BlackBerry Playbook
  14. Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1
  15. Toshiba Tablet


eBook Reader

Kindle is owned by the Amazon company and is limited with its capabilities. The Nook is a Barnes & Noble product, which has kept there business alive. Unfortunately, Border's CEO didn't get the eBook memo. Let me just say that this just demonstrates how much the world around us is changing for the 21st Century. Again, these eBook readers have limited capabilities. Nonetheless, these two eReaders are cheap compared the iPad2's $500 ($499) starting price. There is a version of the Kindle selling for $79, which a little over $1400 could get you a class 20 Kindles.

iPad i-book is one of the most expensive versions of an eBook reader, but it offers much more than the regular Kindle and Nook. The iBook app provides much more than the regular eBook readers. The iBook app offers readers more text manipulation features. Of course, like all tech items it isn't perfect. A problem with the iBook app is compatibility with PC products. The following article by Consumer Report's provides a wish list for the iPad, which hopefully these issues are corrected with the iPad 3.

Because the first two eReaders have been out for a while and they are cheap, some people have all three of the above products for digital reading, but the lack of compatibility between eBook files can be frustrating.



If I had to choose one from each category, the following is a list of what I would buy.

Smart Phone = Samsung Galaxy S II

Tablet = Currently, I would recommend the Apple iPad2. That doesn't mean that other tablets are horrible. At the moment, it is one of the best I have experienced. iPad 2 offers a veritable mountain of educational potential. Like a fine cheese, it seems to get better with age.

Because of its price, the Kindle Fire seems to have the potential to engage students in an eBook with more dynamic capabilities. I would like to try the Kindle Fire and the Nook Tablet; however, if you are a PC-type person sent to destroy Apple's business. Then, Samsung Galaxy would be more beneficial to your taste. The Samsung would be my second choice.

eBook Reader = Kindle if looking at price, but iPad 2 if money isn't an issue. The iPad 2 provides one-stop shopping for tablet features. There is probably an app for just about anything you want the iPad 2 to do.

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