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What is the Potential Impact of Tablet Computers on Education Systems in Africa?

By Wayan Vota on April 25, 2011

With the rise of the iPad, Kindle, and similar eReaders and touchscreen devices, tablet-shaped form factor computing power has become much more portable and yet sizable. This holds great promise for educators on par with the introduction of slates, which swept across classrooms at the turn of the century before last. Back then, the personal transcription device of chalk and stone slate tablets was seen as revolutionary.

Now we can envision one iPad per teacher and student

The digital equivalent has an equal promise in revolutionizing both teaching and learning activities. Teachers can have instructional support, literally at their fingertips, in the learning environment. In fact, David Stevenson of Wireless Generation says that 7-inch tablets are perfect tools for classroom teachers. Students can also be empowered with individualized instruction – think Teachermates on steroids.

But is this just hardware hype?

Yes, the iPad is intuitive, the Kindle and Nook are cheap, and Android is Open Source, yet is the tablet form factor really all that? There is the immediate e-reader usage model, but what other roles can tablets play? And are those roles most cost-effective with digital devices vs. analog or even paper technologies?

Or might tablets just be the OLPC of 2011? Will touch screen tablets be exciting until the real costs for change become apparent? Or are iPads, Kindles and the like a real opportunity for innovative instruction that will surpass laptop and mobile phone promise and usage in the classroom?

Our goal: explore the potential impact of tablet computers in education

In this month’s Educational Technology Debate, we’ll hear from experts in education and technology on the promise and pitfalls of tablet devices in the developing world. Here is the debate so far – join in and express your regarded opinion on the matter:

  1. eReaders will transform the developing world – in and outside the classroom
  2. What the Post-PC Era Means for Education
  3. Assessing the Impact of iPads on Education One Year Later
  4. Tablets are Good, Content is Better, and Teachers are the Best Educational ICT Investment


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Written by
Wayan Vota co-founded ICTworks. He also co-founded Technology Salon, MERL Tech, ICTforAg, ICT4Djobs, ICT4Drinks, JadedAid, Kurante, OLPC News and a few other things. Opinions expressed here are his own and do not reflect the position of his employer, any of its entities, or any ICTWorks sponsor.
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2 Comments to “What is the Potential Impact of Tablet Computers on Education Systems in Africa?”

  1. umbrarchist says:

    What does tablet or netbook matter? It is about quality of information.


  2. Martin Mungai says:

    I came across this clip done by Aljazeera on E-books and the use of tablet in the poor rural areas of Kenya. In my opinion, I think its a great way of trying to bridge the Digital divide albeit in a small way. Step by step this children will not only enjoy using the tablets but they will also be getting quality learning in a place where even text books are hard to come by.