What is Tablet Computing?

In the past three years, advances in tablets have captured the imagination of educators around the world. This category is led by the incredible success of the iPad, which at the time of publication had sold more than 85 million units and is predicted by GigaOM to sell over 377 million units by 2016. Other similar devices such as the Samsung Galaxy Nexus, Kindle Fire, the Nook, Sony's Tablet S, and the Microsoft Surface have also entered this rapidly growing market. In the process, the tablet (a device that does not require a mouse or keyboard) has come to be viewed as a new technology in its own right, one that blends features of laptops, smartphones, and earlier tablet computers with always-connected Internet and thousands of apps with which to personalize the experience. As these new devices have become more used and understood, it has become even clearer that they are independent and distinct from other mobile devices such as smartphones, e-readers, or tablet PCs. With significantly larger screens and richer gesture-based interfaces than their smartphone predecessors — and a growing and ever more competitive market — they are ideal tools for sharing content, videos, images, and presentations because they are easy for anyone to use, visually compelling, and highly portable. Tablets have gained traction in education because users can seamlessly load sets of apps and content of their choosing, making the tablet itself a portable personalized learning environment.

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(1) How might this technology be relevant to the educational sector you know best?

  • I don't think tablets are new technology anymore, in Australia students are going back to laptops for large, grunt work: http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/tablets-fall-out-of-favour-in-nsw-classrooms-20140820-103nsl.html - lkelly lkelly Oct 23, 2014 +1 - dhegley dhegley Nov 3, 2014
  • I agree with Lynda - tablets aren't really new technology any more. And there is really a continuum now between smartphone and tablet so that it's getting more difficult to define where smartphone ends and tablet begins (hence 'phablet' entering the lexicon). Tablets are great for the screen size and resolution they provide but aren't so great as BYOD's as they are heavier and bulkier to transport than phones. We encase tablets that we use with class groups in a ruggedised case, which only adds to their bulkiness. [- ewallis ewallis Nov 2, 2014]
  • On the other hand, I am struck by the number of tourists I see using tablets as their main device when traveling (camera, etc.) - I do think they are relevant for museum visitors/museum interpretation. It would be useful to gather user data from the Cleveland Museum of Art which allows visitors to "check out" tablets to use in the galleries. Their ArtLens is also downloadable. http://www.clevelandart.org/gallery-one/artlens. SFMOMA has had a long history (relatively) in this sector- again - would be good to see their user numbers/evaluation. - AHelmreich AHelmreich Nov 2, 2014
  • Tablets, like phones, now count as "digital air," just the medium we wander through and don't even think about any more. They do, however, add to the burden of design, as we found out at the Institute of the Arts and Sciences at UC Santa Cruz when we did a new, responsive website, and the design broke on some but not all tablet screen sizes.- weberj weberj Nov 3, 2014

(2) What themes are missing from the above description that you think are important?

(3) What do you see as the potential impact of this technology on education and interpretation in museums?

(4) Do you have or know of a project working in this area?

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