Classroom Technology

Ed-Tech Stories From the Wires

By Ian Quillen — July 23, 2010 2 min read

The Associated Press moved a few really interesting stories focusing on the ed-tech world during the last 24 hours.

In India, the national government has unveiled the prototype of an iPad-like device for word processing, Web browsing, and video conferencing that would cost only $35.

The product is the nation’s reaction to “The $100 Laptop” prototype unveiled in 2005 by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a device aimed at children in the developing world that actually cost about $200 by the time it was put into mass production. At the time of that unveiling, the Indian government said the price was too high, and sought help from students and professors at its own universities to develop its newly unveiled tablet.

Private investors had no input in the tablet’s design, the AP story says, and have shown interest in mass-producing it. No manufacturing deals have been finalized, but the government hopes it will be available for purchase next year.

While the AP story places this in the context of India’s other “world’s cheapest” innovations, in the ed-tech world, could this have the potential to do to iPads what netbooks did to laptops in the one-to-one classroom? The crazy part, of course, is that iPads themselves are still too new to be regular fixtures classrooms even in the most forward-thinking schools.

In Philadelphia, the vice dean at the University of Pennsylvania’s education grad school wants to create an incubator to spark education technology innovation and entrepreneurship.

Seizing on momentum from the federal government’s $650 million Investing in Innovation, or i3, grant program, vice dean Doug Lynch wants Penn to house a think-tank of sorts called Networking Ed Entrepreneurs for Social Transformation. It would identify promising businesses and give them financial support, work space, and consulting from university researchers.

One thing to keep in mind: While it may flow naturally that many education innovations come via technology, the i3 program does not specifically mandate the use of technology by grant applicants.

And in Missouri, the state’s university system is pushing to modernize the college learning experience for a student body that does most of its reading online, yet is prompted to spend hundreds of dollars for class textbooks.

But the AP story wisely notes some obstacles to integration that aren’t often talked about—most notably, that while students may be comfortable living personal lives online, they might also be disarmed by a move from the traditional academic lifestyle. That’s perhaps especially true for students coming from high schools with a slim technology profile.

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Digital Education blog.