Education and the Phablet

Education and the Phablet

The seven inch tablet appealed to me long before they were widely produced or accepted.  In July of 2011 I wrote about my belief that the seven inch tablet was “The Paperback of Tablets.”  The market has been flooded with seven inch tablets since 2011, but now I am wondering if I was wrong.   There is enough evidence to actively question whether the Phablet is the true paperback of tablets.  A Phablet combines the productivity of the smartphone with the visual accessibility of a tablet.   I predict a Phablet explosion, which many others have already hinted at, but my particular vision focuses on the education market.

The experiences I have had with education and technology, specifically mobile devices, leads me to believe the best tool for students is a Phablet.   Here are six reasons why I believe Phablets are the tool to watch for education in particular and the future in general.

Note:  Read more on Phablets from Brian X. Chen of the NY Times, Tim Bajarin of PC Magazine, and an amazingly comprehensive article by Jon Fingas of Engadget.

 

One Device

People in general and students in particular don’t want to carry multiple devices.   I have already observed large numbers of people moving to Android, because with a 5+ inch screen there is no need for a tablet.  Your phone can do it all.   The desire to travel with one device is going to explode the Phablet market.

Handwriting

Samsung is making headway in the smartphone market because they are not afraid of innovation.  Apple appears stuck in the Steve Jobs playbook of the past, rather than drawing up their own for a market which has changed dramatically since the first smartphones arrived.   One innovative feature Samsung markets in its Galaxy Note line is handwriting.  Anyone who has experimented with or consistently used this feature can testify to its continual improvement.   I realize many people think handwriting is going to become irrelevant, but I am willing to bet the tactile experience of handwriting is not only here to stay, but will become a revolutionary feature in the future.   All jokes about the Newton aside Apple is getting this one wrong.

Drawing

Have you noticed how many people love to doodle or draw?   One area where we can and will experience enormous growth is in the area of digital art.   I would even go so far as to say we will eventually be as enamored with digital drawings as we are now with photography.    There is an enormous amount of room to grow in this area.

Sharing Notes

There is nothing faster than a post it note.   There are already applications like Google Keep and  S Note that make sharing notes a snap.   In the future, everyone is going to catch on to this, and begin sharing notes the way older generations passed them in class.   Texting is a window into this development, but these notes are richer, easier to manipulate, and searchable.  They are also constantly improving, which is why 2-3 years from now we won’t know how we ever lived without them.

Sophisticated Software

The software we create at Digital Scribbler helps those with communication challenges find their voice.  Quick Talk and Quick Type are simple to use but require a robust device to function effectively.   Most children and adults who use them need enough real estate to type and manipulate the buttons.   Ideally they would be working off a larger tablet at home or school, but when traveling from place to place the perfect mobile device will be the Phablet.   There is enough screen real estate to reasonably manipulate the on screen keyboard and buttons, packed into an extraordinarily compact size for a mobile communication device.    Our software isn’t even close to the most demanding, so you can imagine how gamers, film editors, and the like will feel when in a pinch one device lets them entertain or work.

Hi-Speed Networks

The connection speeds we are currently experiencing will be dwarfed in the years to come.  Regardless of all the debate and controversy surrounding fiber networks things are going to get faster.   The faster the connection the more we want to do, which means those 4 inch screens are going to be pointless for anyone who doesn’t want to carry a backpack filled with a tablet or notebook computer.   The Galaxy Note line of products already allows you to view two applications on the screen at one time.  Right now there are a limited number of applications capable of using this feature, but as the networks grow faster, and the users do more, everyone will want to run multiple apps with a variety of media on their screen.

There will always be a market for smaller even mini phones, but this will be for those primarily interested in voice communication.   Everyone else will want the screen real estate necessary to do as much as possible.  No category will desire and benefit from the aspects of mobile computing I have mentioned more than education.  Education will be forced to embrace BYOD and all of the innovative interactive aspects of education Phablets make possible.   In fact, it will either embrace this trend and change, or die so that a new more modern educational experience can come to life.

About Russ Ewell

Since 1994 I have been devoted to the research and application of innovative technology solutions to education. My passion for these pursuits has been driven by my experience as a parent of children with special needs. During the economic technological growth explosion of the 1990's I was lived and worked in Silicon Valley, and was fortunate enough to find a group of people with similar interests and passions. As a result I was able to launch a non-profit called Hope Technology Group whose mission became advancing the use of technology in education. We eventually launched Hope Technology School, which has used technology to build a fascinating and effective educational program that practices full inclusion. Around the same time, I was fortunate enough to develop and build an awarding winning program called E-Soccer with the help of great friends and excellent coaches. These endeavors have left me with a continuing hunger to learn more about the possibilites of education, technology, and inclusion.

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