education

I’ve long maintained that the real competition for Chromebooks aren’t Windows PCs, they’re tablets. Here’s what I wrote:

[The Chromebook] is a device people with low computing needs might deem good enough. It’s capable for mail, web browsing and light office work; and for most people, that’s all they ever need…You know what else is excellent for low computing needs? Tablets, which have already been eating into the PC market for years for precisely that reason. If Chromebooks didn’t exist today, I suspect more tablets would have been sold in its place instead of Ultrabooks.

Chromebooks so far have found most success in the education market, where the device has gone head to head with — you guessed it — the iPad. I also wrote how ridiculous it is for schools to choose iPads over Chromebooks:

Education for children of that age is also relatively basic — it’s about teaching them where and how to research information (browser), how to type (keyboard) and how to write reports (Google docs) — and for that Chromebooks are perfectly adequate. You don’t need anything more advanced (Office) until later, where a similarly priced Windows machine might make more sense.

What doesn’t make any sense are iPads. iPads are consumption devices — what would you need to teach about consumption to kids? Here’s a videogame you should play? Here’s how you watch videos? Here’s how you use Facebook?

Why would you teach a child how to type with an onscreen keyboard instead of a real one?

Add to it the fact that iPads cost nearly twice as Chromebooks, and it just boggles the mind that iPads are doing well in schools at all.

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That Adobe and Google are working to bring Photoshop to the Chromebook as thin client computing is big news. It works just as how you might imagine: the Chromebook receives inputs and displays outputs; servers elsewhere do all the heavy lifting.

The cloud is going to be a big deal. Photoshop Streaming is one small step towards that future.

Ironically, image editing may not be the best app example to start with. It’s unlikely that pro users will find this solution good enough. Is that artifact inherent in the image or a flaw in the streaming? Is color reproduction faithful? Is the experience going to be fast and stable enough? I still find Google Docs unworkable for complex presentations and spreadsheets.

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Salon posted an article last week that seemed to escape the notice of most in the tech world, but it’s a fascinating read for those interested in the business of gadgets and education.

The story in a nutshell: the LA school district, despite needing money to spend on basic things like repairing its infrastructure, bought US$1 billion of iPads from Apple with little to no discount. Which turned out to be a terrible decision because iPads don’t have keyboards and make poor learning devices for students.

Read it here and then come back. Done?

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e27’s Echelon is the TechCrunch Disrupt of South East Asia; it’s the region’s largest and arguably most influential tech conference.

Echelon also has its own start-up battlefield, and in cornerplay tradition, we’re giving our high level assessment on the winner: Taamkru, an iPad educational game for kids five and below (iOS only for now).

In the words of the company:

Taamkru helps your preschooler achieve academic success in both an enjoyable and productive way while allowing parents to monitor achievement with personalized progress reports…Taamkru’s kid-tested inventory of nearly one million creative learning exercises has been developed by trusted child development experts and aligned with Ministry of Education standards. Our productive learning app has been carefully designed for preschoolers to use and help them achieve academic success with fun, interactive and premium quality educational content of increasing difficulty.

Taamkru is a worthy winner, but it wasn’t my first choice for the competition.

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