Lessons in Tablet Education From India

Sudha Nagaraj Bharadwaj, Journalist | 2/16/2013 | 36 comments

Sudha Nagaraj Bharadwaj
Shipments for the Indian tablet PC market are estimated to have closed at three million units in 2012. New launches were seen, many in the INR 5,000 to 10,000 (US$184) price range, with the Android OS being the most favored (87.9 percent). The market, according to a CyberMedia Research report, is expected to increase by at least 100 percent in 2013.

And if large deals are announced by vendors for the government to distribute in universities, colleges, and high schools, this forecast would easily exceed the 6 million mark.

Why not? The tablet has already become the tech-aid mantra for new-age schools, government–run academic institutions, and other educational agencies in the country. At present there are over 90 models of Android tablets available in the market today, priced in the USD $50 to USD $500 price range. Consider this:

  • HCL Learning has launched My EduWorld Tab, an interactive tablet bundled with curriculum-mapped digital content in 2D and 3D, educational applications and games, educational videos, and e-books.

  • Delhi-based Aakash Educational Services has launched Aakash iTutor to help students attend video lectures, take tests, and obtain assessments, thus preparing them for medical and engineering college entrance exams.

  • Mumbai-based Wishtel has designed the Ira series of educational and multimedia-driven tablets that are powered by a proprietary content delivery network and Indian language capability.

  • Little Millennium, a chain of pre-schools run by Educomp Solutions has introduced the LM Tab for 3- to 6-year-olds with bright and colorful graphics, interactive touchscreen features, audio narration of stories, and a child-friendly design with easy grip.

  • Micromax, the leading Indian tablet maker, offers a slew of educational content -- through an e-learning app in its Funbook Pro -- comprising of material from Pearson, Everonn, GK Publishers, Scholarshub, Vidyalankar, Universal Tutorials, CAPS, Zion, McGraw Hill, and so on.

So while the Indian government-sponsored, low-cost Aakash tablet may have been the first to eye the education space, a lot more seems to be happening in the private sector as well. Many education content providers and e-learning companies have entered the fray.

If you are an education CIO, there are some things you need to take care of before blindly bundling content onto the cheapest Android, or offering dime-a-dozen content bought off the shelf, through a tablet.

Do not give into the temptation to upload PDF textbooks onto a device to make it an education tablet. As many schools have realized already, just as content needs to be customized to suit the syllabus prescribed, even digitized curriculum should be hand-picked and customized for use on tablets.

Any content -- graphics, animation, streaming audio, and video -- can be optimized. However, there should be some reason why a student is accessing a particular lesson, attempting a specific test, or seeking information on a handheld device. Mobility is one of them. M-content or M-education should deliver learning material to a student on the move.

Ability to connect to other media to execute the task at hand is another factor that should determine the kind of content uploaded for educational purposes. Technology should be harnessed to help a student learn through an interactive process. For instance, being able to connect to peers and see how they are faring will catalyze the process of education. In that sense, content is also media.

While the cost of content is an important criterion, the benefits of tablet education can also mitigate problems like shortage of teachers and lack of school infrastructure. However, make sure the content is device-neutral and made available in common formats.

The media tablet may be handy, lightweight, and economical on power, but do not assume that it would be the sole device on the campus. So do plan for device integration, bandwidth, and security infrastructure, not to mention seamless access to the Internet.

While young students may be able to easily take to technology and tablets, spare a thought for teachers who may need training as well. The size of the screen, the effect on the eyes, and ease of use for all stakeholders need to be addressed.

The single-most important challenge for quality educational content in the coming days will, however, arise out of copyright issues. Make sure you are not infringing on someone else's intellectual property. Happy tablet training!

View Comments: Newest First | Oldest First | Threaded View
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tekedge   Lessons in Tablet Education From India   3/28/2013 7:35:06 PM
Lessons in tablet education from India
Yeah the big issue will be intellectual property and copywright infringement I think. We should also look at its educational value and not have one size fits all. Though it will only be used by a segment of population , that itself will be a huge number considering we are no 2 in the world!
adil   Lessons in Tablet Education From India   3/19/2013 5:44:50 AM
Re: parallel lesson in all places
Android OS is mostly customized by the phone manufacturers. We can also have a customized OS for the tablets for education purpose. And like kindle, we can have our own app store on which only educational apps will be placed and can be downloaded to the tablet.
rdv   Lessons in Tablet Education From India   3/16/2013 8:09:27 AM
Re: need to optimize the device
To add more, if the tablets are equiped with the Virtual Reality tools then it can simply turn learning into fun, adding the imaginations to their creative world...
Syerita Turner   Lessons in Tablet Education From India   3/13/2013 7:58:14 AM
Re: Focus on the lesson
Kastron you are very right. The focus should be on whether the person using the app will be able to get something out of it. Learning overtakes how cool the technology is. I think that has gotten lost in the creation of the latest and greatest thing.
Anand   Lessons in Tablet Education From India   3/9/2013 2:44:47 AM
Re: copyright violation
I do not see any major drawback of using a cheaper tablet as the fall in price doesn't really reflect the fall in quality

@Taimoor, infact some of the cheaper tablets/smartphones have even better option compared to the costly tablets. For example features of recently released Micromax Canvas HD phone in india is far better than the features of Samsung Duos even though Micromax cost 40% lesser than the Samsung smartphone.
Anand   Lessons in Tablet Education From India   3/9/2013 2:37:45 AM
Re: need to optimize the device
It should act as additional learning tool and not "The only" tool!!!

@rdv, that is a very good point. Tablet alone cannot bring revolution in education. We also need good teachers, infrastructure to bring this revolution. But yes tablets can definitely help kids to clearly understand the concepts.

Anand   Lessons in Tablet Education From India   3/9/2013 2:28:25 AM
Re: parallel lesson in all places
It prevents the kids from  using it for really anyting else and helps them to focus on education and learning.

@Syerita, very true. Kids get easily attracted to games like "Angry birds" which are installed on the tablets. So its better to install only educational material on the tablets so that kids can concentrate on educational material.
Anand   Lessons in Tablet Education From India   3/9/2013 2:12:23 AM
Re : Lessons in Tablet Education From India
New launches were seen, many in the INR 5,000 to 10,000 (US$184) price range, with the Android OS being the most favored (87.9 percent).

Tablet market in India is definitely growing rapidly. One of the reason for this rapid growth is many low priced tablets are being released by Indian companies like MicroMax. These companies offer very good features at very reasonable price and thus are giving very good competition to big companies like Samsung.

Gigi   Lessons in Tablet Education From India   3/6/2013 3:21:36 AM
Re: Tablets
Batye, if going for a bulk or greater number purchase, obliviously the cost price will be less. That's the reason tablets are available for $50. 
batye   Lessons in Tablet Education From India   3/3/2013 9:52:48 PM
Re: Tablets
I think we would see more and more project like this one as hardware prices go down... and even with low prices potential to have 1 mil. customers is great for any Co.... as it will also get promotion into the future...
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