Changes like this $99 e-tablet, the “Moby tablet” by a company called Marvell. It comes out just as Apple’s i-pad is to be released (selling for less than half what a mac book would) and just as drastic cuts in school districts make digital solutions look very attractive. The Moby shows up as if on cue to my reflections regarding the need to cut costs though web-based delivery systems requiring a 1:1 ration between student and e-tablet. Serendipity or riding the zeitgeist’s tail, at least.
The machine is touted for its textbook-obviating, spinal cord saving, and and book budget cutting. Marvell Co-Founder Weili Dai points out its really revolutionary functionality–its ability to transcend the teacher and classroom and enable kids to get straight to their learning. This little $100 machine means “students can conduct primary research, reach out directly to the world’s leading subject experts, and even collaborate with one another around the globe.”
Some in the article are p00-pooing it for relying on unfamiliar Linux architecture and for not being an Apple product. But I think the real test will be how sturdy can Moby be? How well can it withstand what a kid’s hands–not always clean hands, but real kid hands–will do?
Assuming it is sufficiently durable, and assuming one engages students in high-quality inquiry based and collaborative learning, the Moby is a welcome next step away from the old classroom-based model of learning.
One last Moby-based thought experiment before I put my edu-preneuring to rest (it is my spring break, after all):
Instead of hiring one new teacher at the nominal annual cost of $36,000 at the John Doe Public School, administrators decide to digitize portions of the core curriculum through e-tablets.
- In year one, for $36,000, the school purchases 360 Mobys, one for every 4th, 5th, and 6th grader
- In year two, each 1-3rd grader is similarly equipped and new, better web 2.0 apps have become available, ready for leveraging. This means another two teacher hires are avoided, meaning $72,000 is allocatable to the following progressive initiatives:
- immersive sessions of “outdoor education” in which students interact meaningfully and for prolonged periods of time with the “natural” world
- aesthetic and athletic contests designed to simultaneously entertain, educate, and socialize students
- In year three, the original sum (now x3) means that plenty of money exists to staff the school with educational assistants and specialists to make the PE, arts, and technical arts enrichment programs run efficiently. And also
- In year three, the next generation of machines–faster, smaller, better, and cheaper–will have come online, making more such savings and reallocations available.
And so on, ad infinitum, ad majorem machina gloriam…