I sure am glad for competition. We the customers almost always benefit. Where else can that be more true than for educational technology hardware. You know, the stuff: clunky, overpriced, and just plain ugly; The “breakthrough” product to help dyslexic students that now sits in the cupboard because even if someone wanted to use it, they can’t because the special proprietary connection has gone bad.
They’ve gotten better, but just take a stroll through the vendors at ISTE and you will still see a whole lot of junk. Things are changing though, because society as a whole has become much more savvy. People know better now and teachers (and students) won’t put up with it. If you have guessed that I don’t love Smartboards, you’d be correct. They aren’t the worst thing in the world, but it’s hard for me to justify their price. Same goes for document cameras. Teachers love them and they do actually do a good job at one thing. But do we really want to spend that kind of money on something that students will probably never touch?
Speaking of touch, that’s where iPads come in. One of the reasons they are so great for education is that they aren’t designed for education. Instead, they are designed to be amazing, interactive tools that can do just about anything. I know they don’t do everything, but if you had to choose between a document camera with Smartboard and a cart of iPads for the students, which would you choose?
We’ve been in a bit of a battle over classroom budgets over the last month. Teachers must use or loose them. We have some document cameras and several year-levels are pushing to buy sets of them. No doubt they would put them to good use, but is it really the best use of our limited resources? This video is a quick capture of me practicing the demo I will be giving to administrators tomorrow. They may still choose to approve the document camera requests, but at least I’ve still helped advocate for the power of iPads (which we will be getting one way or another).