Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Educational Tablet

Rice University and Nanyang Technological University have combined to develop the I-slate, a low-cost tablet that delivers the ability to teach multiple subjects to students in areas with little resources for educations. The two universities are launching this product through their Institute for Sustainable and Applied Infodynamics.

This product offers many beneficial features for countries with little resources. Firstly, the tablet costs 35 dollars. In comparison to other tablets, this is very cheap, yet the tablet still functions properly for its purposes. Secondly, the product requires “just three watts of power, meaning it can be powered entirely by small solar cells like those on a pocket calculator.” This is ideal for a country with little power to use, because it allows students to learn in a different capacity, without much expense.

Another perk to this product is that teachers can track the progress of their students. For example, students complete assignments at different paces. Since this product sends information to the teacher, the teacher is able to figure out which students to help with particular problems. Also, this product allows students to receive hints when struggling with a question or skip to the next questions. All along, the teacher can figure out what the class is having difficulty with as a whole when the information is uploaded to her.

However, this product does have some unanswered issues. Mainly, the I-slate uses the Probabilistic CMOS. While the article claims the I-Slate “works particularly well in graphics and sound processing, (and) since human vision and hearing aren't perfect…small errors are therefore undetectable” it begs the question how “undetectable” are the errors. Also, since some precision is forfeited to save power it also brings about questions of the products durability.

For me, I feel this product is a wonderful low-cost option for many schools throughout the world. I say this because it offers the benefits of educational technology without the typical cost. Also, it limits children from distracting themselves with other applications. Through some testing, the I-slate showed “that the students’ math skills improved when they used the I-slate.” This is promising, because it shows that the I-slate can be an effective tool. Also, the I-slate will be possibly undergoing advancements to expand to other curriculums. Eventually, this product could be developed into a multi-function, energy-saving, educational tool. I feel that with enough innovation, this product could be seen in use throughout the U.S. in elementary classes.

Since technology is becoming a vital component in the modern classroom, it is imperative that technologies are available to students throughout the world, especially in developing countries, where certain resources to promote proper education are lacking. The I-slate is a step forward for children in these kinds of places, offering an intelligent solution to a difficult problem.



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