Warning….Tech post ahead!

My current interest is to see just how affordable and possible having a tablet-based class is.

I started looking at iPads but at 400+ Euros each that soon looked a bit difficult. Then I came across this site: http://www.lightinthebox.com/fr/c/tablet-android_4781?keyword=tablette+tactile

Yes, tablets starting at 59Euros. This looks very tempting. At this price every student could be given one instead of a book. Sadly, as my tech guru Nik Peachey kindly pointed out, you do get what you pay. Low battery life, low resolution, limited memory, poor processing speed, unresponsive touchscreens and a generally poor overall quality with little or no warranty equals a possible waste of money.

So, then I came across a French brand that offers decent quality at a decent price, about 200E.

Reviews seemed to say they are OK for the money. The problem is that everything is compared to an iPad which may affect perspectives I presume.

Now, at this point I discovered some news…..Google is releasing a tablet and it’s out this month (in theory).

This changes things. Reviews say this tablet is probably the best there is apart from an iPad. It’s better than Samsung and a heck of a lot cheaper. Unlike the cheap ones above it is going to be available everywhere and so you won’t get stung on dodgy transport/tax/importation costs.

Imagine you are a DOS and you order in bulk then you might be able to get them for $150. Government schools even cheaper. Therefore, 10 would cost $1500. Sounds expensive but just one book can cost a fair bit like:

33Euros

Add on the T book, workbook, CDs and all the usuals, then copying etc etc and for a class of 10 students that might be about 400Euros. Then for another class and another….

But just having the tablets does make sense financially if 1)Not all your classes are at the same time 2)You can use free or very cheap content 3)students want to use them and can print/save/access the materials later on.

The worry is that you’ll blow all the budget on the tech but have no materials to use. At that point you can use free access and use stuff online or just go basic i.e. read a text from today’s newspaper, watch a video from a programme on…from last week. Then you pull out and work on whatever grammar/vocab/language you want. You let speaking and writing evolve and hey presto. This way it stays less techie, the tablets are just a tool for input.

Next step would be you making stuff. Easy! Cut down a video with http://www.embedplus.com/ then embed it in a blog with a Google Form as a quiz. There’s a video task. Add a GDOC blank page and you have a group whiteboard…..All free!

From this perspective, tablets could help us become more creative, more up-to-date and open to new avenues for teaching. If you have some extra money though and fancy dabbling in e-material that’s anther area entirely and maybe a pricey one. If you want to stay in affordable territory though check out Edulang who have loads of stuff starting at $1. Another that’s worth looking at is Nearpod who currently offer a perfect solution for teacher-led tablet teaching. Yes, it’s only for iPad but an Android version is coming I think.

Well, there’s my recent mission. My conclusion is to wait for the Google tablet myself and then try to convince bosses that it’s the way forward, well, if it is. Fingers crossed.

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11 thoughts on “Warning….Tech post ahead!

  1. I really like the idea of having a class set of tablets. One of the summer teachers here suggested we do so for iPads. I chuckled in disbelief since the cost would just be too extravagant. It’s just so current to do so, as long as everyone is on board with it and is trained to task risks with them.

    Of course, I need to get myself one first. Haha. I do like the idea of the Google Nexus as a starter.

  2. i know of a few state run secondary schools that have invested in iPads (and have got their student teachers doing all sorts of research on it so they use them appropriately and know what training will be needed). They got a huge education discount – perhaps worth looking into. But…..lots of the results show that many teens still prefer lessons with books as opposed to pads – they’re not quite there yet. It seems (how sexist!) that it’s generally the boys who enjoy working with tablets whereas the girls prefer the books. Perhaps worth doing a small bit of research into what students want to use that to support your claim to your DOS? It could be that your students (opost teens?) would appreciate tablets.
    good luck with it!

    • Cheers. I have to say that none of my business students wanted computer, tablets or phone at the start but I slowly sneaked them in and they loved them. Well, the exercises anyhow. My nerdy students wouldn’t touch a tablet because they say they’re gimmicky and far too expensive. I agree with that. I think Nearpod is definitely the best solution I’ve seen for a teacher-controlled class but students would still need to take something away Either they could have access to the exercises at home or from a class blog.

  3. Don’t you wish Apple would go back to their roots and offer a little better Education discount for the iPads… or maybe even just the older versions. SOMETHING.

    Their brand has become named “most valuable” in the world, and yet they’re hurting bad from a “humanistic’ point-of-view. Supporting Education better could be a game-changer for them.

    Not yet a tablet guy, though it’s tempting… honestly I think I need fewer screens (not more!!!… hippy talking). Thanks for the Edulang shout-out, Phil. You’re the sponsor that material developers like us are so thankful to have! Cheers, Brad

    • I was thinking of doing a ‘ELT on a shoestring’ post/project. I wonder how cheap/affordable you could set up and run a proper course for. I don’t mean random handouts but a proper course but with no books, just online stuff. With your grammar/vocab/news lessons all that’s missing is for the teacher to have texts and choose what and when. Et voila! Every level could have a full course at a very affordable rate. This could be a good challenge i.e. a teacher has a budget of 5dollars and has to create a blended class for FT students.

      • Sounds brilliant, Phil. Of course we’re happy to provide the materials and it then just depends on the teacher and how the present their course, draw in their students etc. This is exactly the kind of approach we see a number of teachers using our courses already doing, and we expect to see a whole lot more of it!!! Cheers, b

  4. Another cost factor to consider would be any apps you may wish to make use of. It would be wise to check this out of course but I would assume that getting apps would be more expensive for a class set of iPads than for Androids. Add that to the hardware cost and I think Apple is out of the running.

    One question about the tablet idea – would the tablets be handed over to individual students or kept on the premises for use by various classes? In the case of the former option, would it be reasonable to ask them to pay for one either in full or in part? (Ok, that’s two questions – let’s call it 2 for the price of 1 ;))

    • Well, I’ve found enough freebies to put me on and the idea is to make my/our own stuff and deliver it through ipads. That would start with links, online exercises then full courses. I haven’t found anything which is suitable online and the prices are expensive.

      Yes, I guess the idea is having one class set. We had that in my last place with laptops. They lived in a big box. In one place I work at everyone has a laptop but having our own set means more control but if there are 2+ classes at the same time who will get them? We used to have to book the old laptop lab and sometimes people would just nick it.

      If you do a bulk order of Google one of ipad minis I’m sure you could get them for $100 each. That’s not much for students to pay at uni, especially if they get all their books for free as e-books. I remember a 400+ quid compulsory book order on my MA.

    • I went round some phone shops yesterday and you can get HP/MOTOROLA etc tablets for 500/600/700 Euros but if you want the normal (cheaper) price you have to sign up for a phone deal. I may be wrong but they sell iPads for 400Euros. The specs don’t seem too different to me.

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