Seven iPad alternatives for schools


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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