If you have listened to my show before, or perhaps you caught me on Waves of Tech, you know that I am a strong proponent of trying to get schools to adopt ebook readers as text book replacements. An interesting new development in India may, indeed, make that even more viable than I have thought.
I’d like to thank my friend, CL Sheppard, for sharing an article with me about a new low price alternative that is being distributed and subsidized by the Indian Government. And that is where we will start, at the low end of the price range. They say that Necessity is the mother of invention and in an effort to reach millions, low price is a necessity. The word Aakash means “sky” in Hindi. The Aakash is manufactured entirely in India with components from India. The government plans to subsidize these tablets and bring the price down to $35/unit. You heard me right. $35/unit (about $60 unsubsidized.) They hope to have millions of these rolled out by the end of 2012.
SO what’s under the hood.
- Operating system: Android 2.2
- Screen: 7″ resistive
- Processor: 366 MHz + HD video co-processor
- RAM: 256 MB
- Flash memory: 2GB + 2GB Micro-SD (expandable up to 32 GB)
- Aakash has two USB ports which allows you to use a USB keyboard AND a USB drive.
Looking at those specs, it has a lot to offer for the pricepoint, but where is the tradeoff? First is the slower processor and the minimal RAM. First reports are that even scrolling through the apps on the mainscreen can be a slow and painful experience, although once something is open it runs fairly well. The HD Video co processor handles video well.
Another drawback is that there is only 180 minutes of time/charge. (Now from a school standpoint, you would NOT be using them non stop all day and 3 hours of actual usage time is more than doable. You of course have the management of USB thumbdrives to take into concern. I think the ideal situation for this would have to include a local server that they can all access and get and turn in assignments from.
Our step up takes us to the Kobo Vox from Kobo. This moves you up to a full color tablet, but it also moves you up to $199. The processor goes up to an 800 Mhz and the ram doubles to 512. It also has 8 gigs of internal storage. It runs Android 2.3 and battery life is expected to be about 7 hours.
But if I am going to go $200, I’m going to go with the Kindle Fire. Dual Core 1ghz processor. 512 Ram
And the final leap…and it IS a leap, is up to the iPad2. Although it adds a camera functionality built in, you lose the USB port, something that I consider to be a little more crucial. (For about $70 you can add a USB imaging device like the excellent IPEVO Document Camera
SO…$10-15 for a USB Keyboard, $10 for a USB Thumbdrive, and $70 for the camera. You’re coming in around $300 for an excellent setup. And still several hundred dollars less expensive than the iPad2.
So where do we have to go? Obviously, there should be a price point that hits more in the $125-150 range that would bring the minimalist setup of the Aakash closer to where we need to be. Tablets-Aakash Kobo Kindle Fire,and iPad2,
People ask me about the CTRL-ALT-DELiver Name. My goal is to help you take control of your computer. Look at Alternative software approaches to what you are already doing and to DELiver the news and information of the tech world to you in a user friendly way.
So, on that note, I wanted to share one of the tech tips that I posted on the CTRLALTDELIVER website earlier this year.
We have all been working in Microsoft Word and watched the miracle of having “teh int “the”. OK. Miracle is a strong word and frankly, most of you were not impressed at all. Microsoft Word comes with a built in listing of commonly misspelled words. But you can take this feature to a whole other level, by making it work for you in the way that you work. For example, I am a Fifth Grade school teacher. As I was going through my various education degrees, the latest of which was my Masters in Instructional Technology, I often had to write the phrases “The teacher will” and “The student will”. To add this to the auto correct list in Word, click on the Window icon in the top left corner.
Click on Options in the drop down menu and the Options Window will open.From there, choose Proofing.
- In the Proofing Dialogue box, choose Auto Correct Options.
- In the Auto Correct Dialogue box, enter an abbreviation for the phrase that you want to appear in your document.
- Click on the Add button, click OK, and you are set to go. The next time you enter in “ttw” and press the space bar it will automatically expand into “The teacher will”.
Now for some of you, that may impress you at about the same level as correcting “teh”. If so, you have not expanded your imagination far enough to see the potential. Little Bobby Jones does not turn in his homework on a consistant basis. (DISCLAIMER: Little Bobby Jones is NOT a real student. I would never post a real student’s name here and discuss their behavior, so step away from the keyboard Mrs. Jones and cancel that nasty email to me. I thought you and I had already discussed that your nasty emails to me have got to stop and….oh….nevermind.) And so, you want to send a polite reminder to Mrs. Jones (again) about how important homework is. You don’t want to pull a up a form letter, as there are other issues that you need to discuss, but you want to include a paragraph about it. Use Auto Correct! “HWK1″ now instantly becomes “Homework is an essential part of your student’s schoolwork and learning. It is an extension of what we have learned today and provides them with additional practice on that particular skill. Along with reading for 45 minutes each night, the completion of homework is assigned to help your student develop learning skills that will last them throughout their lifetime, not just to complete the Fifth Grade. I look forward to our working together to ensure that your child becomes a learner that embraces the value of education.” Auto Correct! (Oh, if only it were that easy to Auto Correct Little Bobby Jones’ behavior).
For my edTech website this episode, I want to share with you Dyson Telescope game. This is a great strategy activity game and your kids will love it. Alright, face it, you will too. If you can sit and play Angry Birds for hours, you will love this. You are presented with a grid that has telescopes, a ball and a hole, like a miniature golf course. The levels will walk you through the different operations of what the telescopes can do. For example you start out with the telescope pushing the ball into the hole. THen you learn that they can also grab the ball and pull it back into the whole. You will learn extend telescopes to block movement. Again, going back to the miniature golf metaphor, each level will tell you what par is for that level. They have a pretty good amount of levels of increasing difficult. I use it on my SmartBoard and the students enjoy the physical interaction. Check it out at Dyson.com and look for the games link at the bottom of the page.