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Seven iPad alternatives for schools

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

Acer tablets reflect industry experience, commitment to education

“This is the year of tablets—now is the time when we’re starting to see more and more full-scale adoption,” said Richard Black, director of marketing at Acer.

For schools, Acer specializes in providing Android-based tablet solutions, with five options in the Iconia Tab A series—from the 7-inch, 8GB A100 tablet ($249) to the 10.1-inch, 32GB A700 tablet ($449). All five tablets feature front- and rear-facing cameras. Black touted Android-based tablets as a less expensive option for schools, and he noted that the ever-increasing number of educational apps in the Google marketplace now make it possible for students to access resources such as Wikipedia Mobile and universal dictionaries at a single touch.

For Windows-based tablets, the 10.1-inch Iconia Tab W500 combines the portability and ease of use of a multi-touch tablet with the productivity and efficiency of a standard laptop, starting at $549. It runs on Windows 7 and connects to an optional, dockable keyboard to transform into a complete workstation. In anticipation of Microsoft’s Windows 8 operating system, coming this fall, Acer also has increased its Windows-based tablet offerings with the June 4 launch of Iconia W700 and Iconia W510.

Black emphasized that Acer continually improves upon both types of tablets in ways that meet schools’ needs: For example, all Acer tablets provide 8 to 13 hours of battery life, which can take students in one-to-one computing programs through a full school day.

In May, Acer launched EduCare, a service package specifically for schools. For $179, schools can purchase a tablet warranty that covers accidental damage, such as a child dropping the device, and includes two-way shipping for items that need repair.

Acer also hosts monthly, public webinars by school technology staff from across the country. The May webinar discussed how to implement a one-to-one tablet program, and the March session covered the role of tablets in immersive education.

“[We provide] great products, great price points, and commitment to the education market—it’s a win-win-win,” Black said.

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Comments:

  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. http://www.hatchearlychildhood.com/pages/early-learning-tablet-for-kids

  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!
    Karen

    • 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: http://thepegeek.com/

      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:
      http://itunes.apple.com/ca/app/godocs-for-google-docs-google/id348792440?mt=8

    • 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 (http://witzeducation.com/technology/courses/ipad-for-educators/), 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!