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Android Opening Doors to Education for the Masses

More and more, education is moving online. Countries that don’t have enough money to provide $500 iPads for their schools are going to see the technology gap increase and their students left behind. India has taken a huge step forward in correcting that problem by creating a cheaper alternative.

Their tablet won’t have bells or whistles, but it will cost only $50 per student. For countries like India that occupy the space between impoverished citizens and a little extra money in the government, cheap tablets can mean the difference between educating the next generation and allowing them to fall behind.

The need:

For adults who work on computers all day and spend their commutes with their smartphones, tablets can seem a bit superfluous. After all, if you’re never away from your technology, you don’t really need another iteration with the same mobile computing purpose.

But in the education sphere, tablets are everything. Students learn to use them much more quickly than a regular computer because they don’t require fine motor skills and they can do more without knowledge of the alphabet. In younger grades, students are learning colors, shapes and letters from them as young as in kindergarten.

In high school, students who don’t have access to a computer or the internet can use them to stay on top of their studies. They can also use apps to study with and even learn from. If they’re not sure about a concept, chances are very good that a quick search in the app store will come up with a free solution. There are apps for note taking and apps for research. Whether it’s foreign language or physics, education apps aren’t hard to find.

The interactive medium is also helping high schoolers who recognize that they’re dealing with a pretty cool piece of technology. Just the fact that it’s a tablet means students are more likely to spend time with them. The more time students spend with the device they may very well be doing their homework on, the more and the better they’ll learn.

College students, of course, are jumping on the trend as well. Not only do they access the same apps that help high school students, they’re also using them to stay organized and on task. There are timer apps, calendar apps and even student-specific class schedulers. And online learning is taking a leap forward with them since students can study whether they’re on a bus commuting or if they’re on break at work.

The logistics:

Building a cheap computing device isn’t easy. Last year India tried it with a Linux tablet, and years before that they tried to build a $10 laptop. Despite buying in bulk (about 10,000 units for the new Android tablet), they couldn’t do it. The tablet, however, is a promising step in the right direction.
The Indian government named the device UbiSlate 7. It will hold e-books, movies and allow students internet access. India is even covering half the cost of the tablet, bringing it to about $25 per student including a warranty and shipping costs. The tablet will be sold in stores for $60.

The student version will come with free software from the Indian Institutes of Technology, designed to help students out even more.

With the advent of such affordable technology for Indian students, you have to wonder which country can pull it off next.

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