Exciting announcements from the SXSWedu conference abound this week! Tablets will always be a hot topic in edtech (particularly the discussion of Apple’s iPad as an effective education tool, as evidenced this week in Mashable), but today all eyes are on a new tablet designed specifically for K12 students. Education company company Amplify, founded by former chancellor of New York City schools Joel Klein, unveiled today at SXSWedu the first version of the Amplify Tablet, a 10-inch Android tablet made to be used in the classroom.
The new tablet is designed so that educators can curate the content and apps within a class set of tablets so that they have complete control over the content the students view. The tablet contains a dashboard that teachers can view to make sure students remain on task — for example, if a student tries to open another app during class time, an “eyes on teacher” prompt comes up, diverting focus back to the teacher. The tablet’s first version is targeted at middle school students and is made to be taken home by students each night, so they can play educational games in the evenings.
Klein commented to the New York Times on the inspiration behind creating the new tablet, referring to his experience as chancellor of New York public schools:
“When I left I was convinced of two things. If we didn’t see a dramatic technological change, we were not going to be able to move this country forward…and second of all, that the private sector had to get much, much more involved.”
The Wi-Fi version of the Amplify Tablet, which is pre-loaded with training materials and content from sites such as Khan Academy, EverFi, CK-12, and more, starts at $299, along with a two-year subscription for $99 a year. The Amplify Tablet Plus model contains a 4G data plan and is intended for students who don’t have wireless internet at home. This version costs $349 with a two-year subscription plan for $179 a year. Professional development for teachers as well as tech support are included in these price points, notably lower than those of Apple’s iPad models.
However, the price points are still significant, particularly for low-income districts, and Amplify recognizes this. They estimated to the New York Times that school districts without the funds to purchase this equipment could use grants from the U.S. Department of Education’s Race to the Top fund to purchase a class set of tablets. Funds awarded from this government program are meant to improve low-achieving schools, and are often used to purchase technology in the classroom.
Klein had been an advocate for implementing technology in the classroom throughout his eight-year tenure as chancellor, and emphasized Amplify’s advantage in creating tablets to the Times: “We understand technology and we understand education. A lot of people who understand technology don’t understand education.”
Check out the product demonstration video below, and share your thoughts in the comments section or tweet them to @Technapex or @ce_doyle.