Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Amplify Tablet: At Least Someone's Trying

I certainly have plenty of doubts about Amplify, starting with it being a subsidiary of a international right-wing hacking and disinformation organization, but I am glad that somebody has at least tried to make a computer designed for use in schools.

That is, it isn't a re-purposed business machine, it isn't a post hoc locked-down consumer product, it isn't even a computer designed just for learning. Schools have unique, complex processes, and setting aside a debate over unschooling and other radical propositions, the most prominent of these is that students and teachers proceed through a sequence of classes every day, each one with a distinct task and a potentially a unique social re-combination. A computer interface organized around that structure may seem banal, but it is one of the things I've been waiting for years to see.

On the other hand, knowing that the machine would be aggressively spying on my child and dumping everything into a giant national database is a deal breaker.

But at the end of the day, just establishing "tablet completely designed for schools" as a viable and perhaps desirable product description is a huge breakthrough. How will Pearson respond? Apple? Without active support from government and academia, I'm afraid the open source world will have trouble responding (although it is all sitting on top of Android, ofc).

I've found the past five years to be an extremely boring period in Ed Tech, because we've really just been sitting around waiting for this sector of the market to come into existence. It is a prerequisite for the next round of innovation.

Last quibble: this isn't a "disruptive innovation." It would be a disruptive innovation if you didn't need a lot of new custom software and services, but could do all this with a netbook, Google, and a wifi connection.

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