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Seven iPad alternatives for schools

These tablets give school leaders other options to consider besides Apple’s ubiquitous device

Brainchild’s Kineo combines hardware and assessment, with customized training also available

It was only a matter of time before Brainchild, which boasts 16 years of experience in creating mobile learning devices for education, stepped into the tablet market as well. The Kineo, launched in spring 2011, is a 7-inch, 800MHz tablet with design touches—such as a rugged screen and easily replaceable battery—that reflect Brainchild’s efforts to make a tablet specifically for schools.

The latest version, with an updated design that incorporates what the company learned in the last year, features an 8-inch screen and includes an Update Manager for adding or updating software from the web.

On its own, the Kineo runs Android 2.1 and can play Flash and MP4 video. It also includes built-in security features targeted to the needs of elementary schools, such as separate student and administrator settings and the ability for educators to control students’ access to certain apps.

With Brainchild’s Achiever! software, an online assessment and instruction program, students can learn and practice their math and reading skills either offline or online. Students’ offline results can be synched with the server-based Achiever! software through a proprietary technology that Brainchild calls GlobalSYNC, so educators can track their students’ progress toward mastery of state standards.

The greatest advantage of buying the Kineo is that Brainchild offers a complete package of hardware, software, and professional development, said CEO Jeff Cameron.

“What’s happened in the last year is that everyone said, ‘Oh, we want tablets,’ so [they] went out and bought them,” Cameron said. “But buying is the easy part. With most tablets, it’s [left] to you how to use it.”

Brainchild molds its unique professional development programs to the product. The professional development courses, which Brainchild tailors to districts’ varying needs and available funding, cover issues ranging from configuring Wi-Fi networks to accommodate an influx of tablets, to analyzing and using student performance data.

Brainchild’s training sessions help school staff “put it all together” and understand how the technology can be used in the classroom to improve student achievement, said Courtney Dunham, director of customer relations.

A single Kineo device, not including the Achiever! app, is priced at $299. Cost of the Achiever! software ranges from $3 to $10 per student, depending on volume, and professional development is $1,950 per day.

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  1. gharding

    July 6, 2012 at 5:33 pm

    To say this article was a treasure box would be an understatement. It provides very thorough details for educators and administrators to not only assist in deciding on the most cost effective tablet for their school/classroom but it is also quite useful in convincing those of us who still hang on to the 20th century where there were bans on electronic devices of all types in the classroom.

    The description of these tablets addresses common concerns such as cost and security. It provides educators and parents with the assurance of control, a valid concern that adults have as it relates to children’s access to technology. There is always the concern that students will not always stay on task or use these devices/classroom tools, in the manner that we intend. In some cases, the availability of assessment tools as well as features available both on or offline should be a major selling point for administrators,parents, and classroom teachers.

    In addressing the popular concerns related to identifying technology solutions for the information age classroom this article goes a far way is selling these products to the unconverted by offering:

    Reasonably priced alternatives to the IPad
    Solutions that address security issues
    Performance (battery life, sturdiness)
    Professional development training
    User Warranty
    Bundled software and assessment solutions

    In essence, a one-stop solution to your technology needs.

    Well written and quite informative.

    • syeager1

      July 27, 2012 at 6:04 pm

      (For Early Learning) The best solution to mobile/tablet learning, takes tablets in education to the next step with research-based content that aligns to education standards and comes with EXCEPTIONAL support. Has progress monitoring, reporting, everything tailored entirely to the classroom.

  2. kfwebster21

    July 6, 2012 at 5:44 pm

    Can you give guidance on activities and ideas to implement the new I-Pad in Elementary Physical Education? Thanks!

    Yours in Health!

    • jkligerman

      July 11, 2012 at 1:19 pm

      I had to touch base with my education specialists but I have a couple ways it is being used.

      They know one example where the school was planning to set up stations for the kids with QR codes and students would scan to get instructions on what to do at the particular station.

      Other than that I know that some teachers use the iPads in phys-ed to record data and use it for cross curricular lessons. There are a ton of health-based apps available that would definitely help in those lessons.

      If you want to see some apps that can be used for phys-ed, an Australian gentleman named Jarrod writes a blog “The PE Geek” that focuses heavily on this topic. Check him out here:

      Hope that helps!

  3. Tomsmcdonald

    July 6, 2012 at 6:44 pm

    I see a lot of features/benfits & bells/whistles, special pricing, but little if any discussion on how brain based,research proven, market proven, pedagogy will be integrated to deliver personalized effective and
    efficient advanced learning.

    The objective in education is to advance individual learning consistent with strategic individual and organization objectives (more graduates, less drop outs, bettered individual learning,learning transfer and learning application.

    How do these devices advance individual learning? How do these devices change pedagogy to advance individual learning? Where is the market proof validating where these devices advanced individual learning.

    Shouldn’t the focus be on brain based, research proven, market proven, advanced learning methodology/results, rather than on technology that delivers faster, ineffective and inefficient one to many teaching?

    Shouldn’t a solution have documented results like these behind it prior to purchase?:

    More Stimulation per Minute of Study
    300% Improvement in Retained Learning per Hour of Study
    11% less study time, 22% less test time, and 95% higher test scores

    • mbsims

      July 9, 2012 at 5:41 pm

      Technology advances so rapidly, and there seems to be a constant flow of exciting new products. Research in learning, especially methodology, proceeds at a crawl by comparison. Still, our questions as teachers and clinicians should be more along the lines of “What technologies might augment or advance an evidence-based pedagogy?” rather than “What can I do with this new piece of technology?”

  4. 1rgarcia

    July 7, 2012 at 6:06 pm

    Would like to try this Unobook for my school’s computer labs. How does one go about getting to try them out?

  5. marytfrey

    July 9, 2012 at 4:02 pm

    No mention is made of interactive textbooks being used or what productivity would be enhanced. Price is not everything.

  6. jeantrot

    July 9, 2012 at 5:48 pm

    This article gives a good idea of what is needed to succeed with tablets in the classroom. Any information technology device needs to be installed as a system in schools. One of the schools in our region received a class set of iPads and it took them months to get the equipment to simply charge them all at once. They still do not have centralized management of apps… Needless to say the teachers were not able to do most of what they wanted with the tablets.

  7. lewishall

    July 9, 2012 at 6:04 pm

    Our school district ran an all day seminar where attendees heard presentations and were able to experience various tablets, including the iPad, one from Microsoft, and the Nook. Hands down the tablet that everyone (except for two IT workers who were more PC oriented) agreed was the best for price, functionality, availability of programs, etc. was the iPad.

  8. vlamb

    July 9, 2012 at 9:11 pm

    Just wondering if anyone has found a tablet that truly works with Google Docs. I’ve tried several including the Kuno and the iPad. At first glance Google Docs works fine but as you dig in and try to start “sharing” the browsers start crashing. Any suggestions to a good mobile browser that will support Google Docs in full?

    • jkligerman

      July 10, 2012 at 2:41 pm

      Hi vlamb,

      I’m guessing that you are trying to access Google Docs through Safari on the iPad? I haven’t experienced this problem myself, but my recommendation would be to purchase the GoDocs app for $4.99. While it isn’t free, which is part of the draw of most Google products, it does fix the crashing problem! You can read about it here:

    • squellhorst

      July 16, 2012 at 4:18 pm

      I use a ToshibaThrive, and I have no problem with Google Docs (now Google Drive) or Dropbox. However, you can do more with the documents if you have some type of complete – not lite version – office software installed. After experimenting with some of the available sample versions, I found that Quickoffice was most compatible with my particular tablet, so I purchased the full version. Then, I discovered Kingsoft Office, which is a complete office editing program and is FREE. It works great, too. But it’s only available right now for Android.

  9. jkligerman

    July 10, 2012 at 2:36 pm

    We have a lot of requests coming from teachers, schools, and their boards on how to integrate iPads into their lesson plans. While we do have a course dedicated to this (, we are also doing custom courses for specific departments.

    @kfwebster21 this is a first for us! Let me check in with my trainers (who are all directly involved in education) and see what they come up with!