What’re These Kids, the Kardashians?

yuno2Amongst the many potential problems associated with putting tablet computers in the hands of school kids, both real and imagined, is the very legitimate concern about cost. Tablets are a relatively new technology and they can be pricey, particularly if you’ve got unnecessarily high standards. There’s a wide array of different tablet options to choose from.

So why exactly is Corvallis going with the Rolls-Royce of tablet computing? The iPad is the undisputed champ of tabs. The reason is the ease of use and the compatibility with the Apple environment. By locking millions of smart phone users into their ecosystem with the iPhone, before Android had a foothold, iPad’s ubiquity was guaranteed.

For a school full of kids with diverse user experiences and a relatively limited set of needs, there are countless cheaper options. The Amazon Kindle and Galaxy Tab are just two of the non-iOS running tablets that run roughly half the cost of an iPad. These are two well-made tablets that have the tools and capability to be useful to students.

A little digging in the dark recesses of Chinese unbranded wholesale tech shopping yields still more options. Dealextreme has A13s, a slick Chinese knockoff (or Chipad) with all the features necessary for kids to get a cutting edge-ucation, for $50 a pop. Roughly one tenth the cost of a new iPad (and those are made in China, too).

A quick jaunt through Alibaba, the Chinese wholesale behemoth, yields literally hundreds of choices for low cost tablet computing solutions.

There are some security concerns that an iPad may be the best solution for, but with a price point 5 to 10 times higher than the alternatives it’s unclear that these security concerns are insurmountable.

Kids are using the tablets to get a technological leg up, to capitalize on multimedia teaching tools and to harness the power of the Internet to stay competitive with kids all over the world. Android tabs, with their open source environment, are better suited toward this. So why did Corvallis want to shell out for the more expensive iPad? Was it marketed to them more slickly by the Apple juggernaut? Was the security concern paramount? Or were iPads the easiest and most visible option?

Inquiring tax payers want to know.

by Ygal Kaufman