As more school leaders look at using iPads and other tablet computers as learning tools, the Florida-based company Brainchild has developed an iPad-like device that is designed specifically for elementary and middle school students.
Built on Google’s Android operating system for mobile devices, the Kineo—which is Greek for “to excite”—acts as an eBook reader with internet access and Flash capability. Its replaceable battery reportedly lasts for up to 12 hours on single charge, and at $299 it costs far less than Apple’s iPad.
Perhaps best of all for educators, the Kineo enables school leaders to specify the applications that students can use on the device by “locking down” apps they don’t want students to use.
What’s more, the Kineo can only access websites that are pre-programmed by an administrator or teacher, and its messaging capabilities have been disabled to make sure students use it for learning, not texting.
“A teacher can have full confidence that when her students are working on Kineos, they are on task and won’t get into trouble,” said Brainchild President Jeff Cameron, who introduced the product at the Florida Educational Technology Conference (FETC) in Orlando Feb. 1.
Cameron’s company has more than 15 years of experience in building handheld devices for education.
Introduced in 1995, Brainchild’s first product, the PLS-1000 (short for “Personal Learning System”), ran on one of the first operating systems designed for a handheld computer. A decade later, the company’s Study Buddy—with a color screen, stereo sound, and multimedia lessons—replaced the PLS-1000, but it was still just an offline practice device.
With the Kineo, students can learn and practice their math and reading skills either offline or online using Brainchild’s Achiever! assessment system. Students’ offline results can be synched with the server-based Achiever! software through a proprietary technology that Brianchild calls GlobalSYNCH, so educators can track their students’ progress toward mastery of state standards.
Besides the Achiever! application, the Kineo includes eReader software, a web browser, and an MP4 video player. Teachers or administrators can add other Android-based applications to the device, but students can’t add any software themselves.
The Kineo features a 7-inch touch-screen display, an 800 MHz dual-core processor, and an SD card slot for up to 32 gigabytes of memory. It also includes a USB port and an HDMI port for connecting the tablet to a projector or interactive whiteboard.
Students at several schools in Naples, Fla., tested the Kineo before its official launch at FETC.
“The Kineo … is like a portable textbook with study guides, calculators, [and] movies that is handy and portable, that you can pretty much bring anywhere instead of using textbooks and big bulky computers,” said Callie Lawfer, a student at Manatee Middle School. “I have a lot of trouble in math, and this device is just so helpful with that, because it has study guides and it lets me just practice all the things that I need.”