As a teacher, specifically the one with responsibility for ICT in an 'Outstanding' school, I should probably know better. I've taken my ICT role very seriously this year and am pushing hard to raise the profile across the school. This has meant a new scheme of work, staff training and introducing assessment/tracking throughout school. Our infrastructure is under my beady eye as well with upgrades needed to our network, classroom hardware and software.
Importantly, I'm also working on ICT at home. In the past month we have acquired a Kindle (Ang's Christmas prezzy about which she already knows), a spare camera an now anew netbook to replace the no-longer functioning first generation eeePC I was so fond of. Ang was against a new netbook suggesting a tablet of some kind as an alternative. With my new love of blogging I immediately felt the lack of keyboard would be a problem. Visiting Leeds on the shop left me thinking that netbooks were such excellent value for money that I would be silly to pay the £350 for a tablet worth having. With the offer of an ex-display Samsung 145, it seemed a no-brainer.
With it home and working, I'm happy enough with it. That's not to say I'm very pleased. Even with the benefit 10 hour claimed battery life, the performance is noticeably laggy and I had difficulty getting the updates for Win7. On the plus side, the minuscule laptop plays video well from it's noisy 250gb drive. There is a keyboard which, though the action is poor, let me type up my last blog. In short, it's OK, inexpensive and very portable.
Don't worry, I'm getting to the clear evidence of a supreme balls up. You see, each and every time the topic of possible iPads in schools has come up I've thought, 'Rubbish.' My concern is that the cost is huge compared to a load of netbooks and they are limited by the absence of a keybard (other than the on screen one). In my defence, we do a lot of writing in school, much more than most as far as I can tell. To expose the children to ICT as much as I want, they need to be using it heavily in English lessons.
At home, I've been not noticing how amazing my children are. Thanks to an increased focus on assessment in school, I have noticed how good they are at school. Meanwhile, my 13 month old sun has worked out how to turn on the tumble drier. I don't mean he plays with it until somthing happens. Tom turns the timer knob then presses the start button. No messing about other than clapping. Beth has always been able to play a little game on my phone. She loves it in fact.
What I didn't know was just how capable my 3 year old girl is. Tonight I found her with my phone playing a game where the numbers 1-9 are presented as jumbled buttons. The player presses the buttons in order. Very educational and I'm not amazed she can do it as she can count to 20 and recognises the numbers 1-10. What is amazing is that I didn't teacher her how to get the game. Beth had to
Unlock the phone.
Open the applications menu (there's no short cut on the home screen).
Scroll down the list of applications.
Identify the correct icon for the game to launch it.
Select the correct level (said she didn't like the other ones. Too easy it would seem).
I realise there is a certain amount of doting father believing his daughter is the best thing since sliced bread which is only right as any child's biggest fans should be their parent's. That aside, while not being an expert on these thing, it still seems amazing that a 3 year old can achieve where many adults I know quickly give up.. Someone should probably give her access to further touch screen tech... OOPS. I can't help sitting here thinking that she wouldn't be able or inspired to access ICT to that level through a symbol packed keyboard and a fiddly mouse.
In conclusion the netbook, cost effective and capable, isn't as good for a family. It has none of the magic of a touch screen computer with clever, even pleasing, interface. I love my Samsung Galaxy S. I'd love a Galaxy Tab though it wouldn't be any use for typing up a blog or running windows software I need for school. On the other hand, Beth would love it, Ang would love it and, going on form, Tom wouldn't be far behind. I suspect I've missed a trick here.
My action plan? First, find something for Beth to play with that will inspire her. Then, see about doing the same at school. I'm not sure how it would work but I've now got some evidence that tablets could work well.