So what are these super popular tablet computers capable of anyway?

4723789017_8d861b5c14

Its hard to deny that in the book that tells how computing has become more and more mobile such that its already almost ubiquitous, the current chapter would be titled ‘tablets’. While they have been around for some years in various forms, the recent maturation of mobile operating systems such as Android and iOS to match the slate style has seen an explosion in the adoption rates of tablet computers. The iPad is selling over 1 million devices a month, and it seems that conversely, about a million different Android tablets get announced each week. The Dell Streak, Asus EePad and Samsung Galaxy are all examples of high profile Android tablet computers that will be released in the next 4 months. There are also education specific initiatives around Android tablets in the shape of the Marvel/OLPC $99 project, and India’s $35 slate. Of interest also is what HP releases in the way of a ‘PalmPad’ tablet that will run the WebOS they bought along with Palm.

Ok, so enough about the hype of devices. What can they do? And specifically, what can they do for learning? Not having access to an Android tablet yet myself, my observations are based on the using the iPad. For a list of Android education apps though, go here.

I’m aiming then to post semi-regular articles on what these tablets can do, starting today with this example: iBrainstorm (free from the appstore). This app (an others like it) allow you to map out ideas, plans and thoughts visually. Where it really provides a new experience is that, being available on a tablet, all the work is done by direct touch, just as we would have once done pre-PCs. So we get to arrange notes and draw in a paper-like way, but with all the advantages that working digitally brings – such as instant sharing and storage of the brainstorm session. And, you also get to instantly collaborate. iBrainstorm allows other devices (iPhones or iPod touches as you’d expect from this platform) to connect via bluetooth and create their own sticky-notes which can be passed to the main iPad with a flick of the finger.

In a classroom, I can just see the group work possibilities. You could have four – five students summarising a topic, with up to four students creating sticky-notes of key points and flicking to a fifth student with the iPad tablet who then arranges them. I am really hoping that in near future the developers will add a video-out capability so the work could be projected to a big screen to show the brainstorm taking place live – that way the whole class could contribute.

If this is any indication of the kind of applications that tablet computers of any platform are capable, I for one am excited about the the kind of learning they will help enable. Of course it all depends on teachers facilitating their use – would love to hear from other teachers attempting to do so.

Moving at the speed of Learning: a case for mLearning and the iPod touch

moving

I recently had the great pleasure of presenting these slides both at the Slide2Learn event in Victoria, and for 80 teachers of students with hearing impairments on the recent pupil free day. The slides aim to show how mobile devices are able to help teachers and students to keep up with the speed of learning that should be a feature of any contemporary, complex classroom now that ubiquitous, everyware computing is almost upon us.

It draws on Blooms Taxonomy and challenges teachers to aim higher and to engage with how mobile tools are becoming an increasingly necessary tool for all of us as we seek to prepare students for a digital future (and present). Each slide includes notes explaining what the PDF files are showing. The slides basically fall into these three sections:

A. Assumptions about schooling, then and now, B. PART 2. Blooms Taxonomy, higher order thinking, and where the complex contemporary classroom and mobile devices come in, C. PART 3. Focus on the iPod touch platform in relation to how it fits the complex classroom – with actual examples from my school.

You can view the slides HERE thanks to slideshare.