This is how many teachers and principals fear their tech investment will end up in the hands of students!
It has been an interesting week this week, I have worked in several schools that have just rolled out significant technology purchases to their classrooms. The vast majority of these classes are now replete with tablets and mini computers that have touch screens and my job now is to ensure that the investment made by the school can now be measured in student outputs, improved learning attainment, that is the value added.
As technology has got smaller and (relatively) cheaper, the control of the devices is increasingly handed over to the students, as it should. For many teachers they see this as a calculated risk, they often share with me that they are concerned that the students might break the device. I guess for many teachers this is their first steps on the road to relinquishing the control of learning and devolving that to the students.
Many years ago, when I first persuaded a principal to allow me to purchase a digital camera for every classroom, he was concerned about putting these devices into the hands of children. To which I replied that the cost of the cameras (cheap) meant we should consider any damage incurred throughout the year as wear and tear and to trust the students. We did not lose a single camera to student damage, but we did lose a couple on school trips, left behind somewhere by distracted parents... The point is that students generally look after tech entrusted to them, because they get it. They want it, they value it. Having said that, accidents do happen. Which is why many tablets can be fitted with after market bumpers that protect them, allegedly.
Today I was in a school where three iPads were presented to me that were not working. Every iPad has a rubber bumper and when stripped of their bumper they showed no outward signs of damage, no dented corners, like my old iPad 2! No cracked screens, like my old iPad 2! To all intents and purposes the devices looked perfect, they just would not turn on. When the power button was pressed the screens kind of flashed, but did not boot up, they were all dead. The common thread was that they had all been dropped by students, a terrible co-incidence to have occurred on the same day and in this school they represent the first significant student related incident with the iPads in three years of use. Thus bearing out my view that in general the students do not abuse tech deliberately. These devices are now out of circulation and are awaiting repair.
So what is the point of this? The point is that just as three iPads damaged on the same day is a co-incidence, so was my trip to Samsung NZ head office after school a co-incidence too. On my arrival I was ushered into the showroom to be shown the new products on display. My guide arrived with the usual accoutrements of the modern workplace. In his hand was his phone, tablet and ID card on a lanyard. As I was shown over to one of the display consoles with all the new shiny devices on it, my guide went to put down his own items of tech and as he did so his tablet, slipped out of his grasp crashed headlong onto the floor with an almighty clatter! I was flabbergasted and just a little shaken at the demise of this fourth tablet in a day.
It turned out to be a slick ruse, the accident was intended to happen. What had just been demonstrated to me was the capability of the Samsung Tab Active 8". It has been ruggedised to work in extreme conditions such as out on the farm, in the forest, in a welding bay etc. I am reliably informed that the device without any extra plugs or stoppers can sit in a metre of water for half an hour with no affect on the device at all. It is protected with Corning's Gorilla Glass and so it is highly resistant to point impact damage and even abrasion. In short it is the perfect device for rugged environment and operationg conditions found in a classroom full of active and inquisitive students.
Having seen the fragility of even well protected devices today, when compared to the robustness of this Samsung device's standard set up, it would seem that device longevity would no longer be an issue for principals and teachers concerned about letting mobile devices get into the hands of students in a classroom. Imagine then what learning could be facilitated with such a device that was intentionally sent outside to be exposed to the rigors of mud, water and general bashing that it might endure in an ECE sandpit, student enviro project or even on the sports field as part of a Phys Ed lesson . Watching the stunt I was also reminded of a parental comment that I had to deal with at a recent BYOD meeting I attended. The parent was not against BYOD in principle, but was more concerned about his son traveling to and from home with a relatively heavy and expensive mini laptop with touch screen (the school's preferred device), whilst using his scooter. The dad did not want his son to stop using the scooter, but could envisage the device getting damaged in pretty short order. This Samsung Tab Active could have gone a long way to resolve his anxieties and saved him some cash too!
I tried to find the Tab Active on the usual high street retailer sites, but could not find it. However I did locate it on the Samsung NZ site so it is not hard to get hold of in NZ and with a RRP price tag of $799 is competitive on price too.
Samsung Tab Active 8" SMT365yn
After being dropped several times. I was invited to join in the fun, but declined!