The Next Generation of Classroom Technology: Tablets & Smart-phones

A notebook and paper could be as outdated as the photo with Tablets and digital notebooks on the rise.

It is not uncommon in today’s college classroom to see students using laptops to take notes, view slide shows and work on homework but with new technology being introduced each day soon it will be a much different scene in the classroom. Since the introduction of the netbook a few years ago the classroom scene has been changing from students bringing heavy laptops to class and moving to using smaller, lighter netbooks. Now there is another change on the way; tablets and smart-phones.

In 1965 Gordan Moore published a paper stating that the number of transistors that can be placed on an integrated circuit will double approximately every two years and that the trend would likely last for at least ten years. Three years later Moore co-founded a start-up circuit company banking on this finding, the company was Intel and the rest as they say is history. But why is “Moore’s Law” important to the next generation of classroom technology? Because it is this law that is now allowing students to use smaller and more powerful computers in the classroom.

Many of you have probably heard the adage that “once you drive a car off the sales lot, the value has exponentially dropped”, right? Well have you heard the adage – “once you walk a computer out of the electronics store it is out of date”? I bet many of you have not, but this is very true. Each year…month… no, each week there is a new and better technology that is being discovered, tested and released for the consumer to get their hands on and this growth is thanks to Moore’s Law and the ever expanding capabilities of the circuit board. This exponential technology growth is driving the next generation of classroom technology.

It is predicted that in 2011 mobile devices such as tablets, smart-phones and non-PC netbooks will out sell the standard computer and many predict before the end of this decade desktop computers will no longer be produced. This is a startling realization that the go to desktop computer will be a thing of the past is, kind of shocking actually. But with the increasing potential of the laptop and the mobile devices it is not surprising. And with this change in computing power will be the shift into the next generation of classroom technology.

Last month was the much anticipated, over hyped Consumer Electronics Show (CES) where anybody who is somebody showed up and reveled all the new stuff there is to offer on the tech scene and guess what, the most talked about items where tablets and smart-phones. And then to top it all off a few weeks after the show Texas Instruments stirs the pot again by releasing a news flash about two new processors for tablets and smart-phones. So in a matter of days the tech world is shocked not just once but twice by the mobile world and thus the introduction of the next generation.

At CES there where hundreds of new tablets and smart-phones uncovered, tested and talked about, they are the next big thing that are all ready making a splash. And unlike the Internet, no one is calling these items just a fad (ahem, Bill Gates). Apple is in the works of the iPad 2, Samsung rumors the Galaxy Tab 2, Motorola is getting ready for the Xoom to release and Blackberry has the Playbook. All of these are great tablets with amazing capabilities and there are even more rumored and in production. Then you start talking about smart-phones, the iPhone 4 and 5 for both AT&T and Verizon, Motorola, HTC, Samsung, Sony and LG all have Android powered smart-phones set to be released soon. RIM is working on a new OS for the Blackberry and Windows 7 Mobile has been a hit so far. And with the way the technology is growing all of these smart-phones have as much if not more capabilities then tablets and it will only be a mater of time before they have as much as laptops and desktops..

And that is what the next generation of classroom tech will look like, students sitting in class typing, even writing on, small, ultralight mobile computers that can do just about anything. And this as they say, is just the beginning.


Branden Hayes Senior at UW - Energy Resource Science. From Pueblo, CO


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