In Education, The Tablet Tide Has Turned…And It’s Turned Into a Tidal Wave

Apple introduced the modern day tablet in April 2010. That’s just a little over three years ago. Educational institutions are notoriously conservative – slow to change and slow to adopt new techniques. Yet, here are two stories that show just how quickly tablets are being adopted for use by school age children:

An iPad For Every Student In Los Angeles Public Schools

Los Angeles’ school system, the second largest in the country, is ordering iPads for all its students…$30 million worth of iPads as the first part of a multi-year commitment…Apple says the initial order is for more than 31,000 iPads.

The Los Angeles Unified School District has more than 640,000 students in kindergarten through 12th grade.

It wasn’t even close. The vote of the school board was 6-0.

Despite PC’s “preferred” status, Maine schools go with tablets

Apple’s dominion over Maine schools looked like it would change in April when the Maine Governor’s office announced that the MLTI’s new preferred vendor was Hewlett-Packard – specifically, the HP ProBook 4440 running Microsoft’s Windows 7 operating system.

Maine’s massive Maine Learning Technology Initiative (MLTI)…(revealed) that of more than 69,000 machines, only 5,474 will be the preferred Windows laptops. More than 92 percent of state schools are staying with Apple, the majority of which are turning to iPads… 39,457 students and educators in the MLTI are using iPads for the first time.

A Rising Tide Lifts All Tablets

My father was a school superintendent, so I am painfully aware of how maddeningly slow the wheels of education turn. However, the stars may be aligning for a significant change.

1) A tablet for every school child is a done deal. Most people just don’t know it yet. It’s going to happen and it’s going to happen oh-so-very-fast.


The Pew Research Center has been tracking tablet ownership from May 2010 when it recorded that 3% of American’s 18 years and older owned a tablet. From its most recent survey in May of 2,252 adults 34% of American’s owned a tablet, almost a doubling from April 2012.

Tablets have become an accepted part of everyday life and soon they will become an accepted part of education too. In three short years, we’ve already moved from the “Tablets are a stupid idea and it should never be done” phase to the “Of course Tablets are a great idea in education and why haven’t we done it already?” phase.

padagogy-wheel-450x4502) The tablet software industry is already well-established. Mobile software can be purchased cheaply and easily and installed almost instantaneously.

3) Apple has pulled out all the stops to cater to the education sector in its latest iOS version. Microsoft is giving away Surfaces for $199 each. Heck, everyone is going to want a piece of this market.

4) Win-Win. With millions upon millions of children getting tablets, and with hundreds of thousands of app developers using their creativity to develop educational apps in order to make money, maybe – just maybe – we’re on the cusp of seeing a revolution in computing software for education.

I am cautiously optimistic.


Published by

John Kirk

John R. Kirk is a recovering attorney. He has also worked as a financial advisor and a business coach. His love affair with computing started with his purchase of the original Mac in 1985. His primary interest is the field of personal computing (which includes phones, tablets, notebooks and desktops) and his primary focus is on long-term business strategies: What makes a company unique; How do those unique qualities aid or inhibit the success of the company; and why don’t (or can’t) other companies adopt the successful attributes of their competitors?

7 thoughts on “In Education, The Tablet Tide Has Turned…And It’s Turned Into a Tidal Wave”

  1. 640,000 * $200 (lease price) * 3 years = $384 million every three years
    in one district that is also poor.

    $30 million / 31,000 = $967 per student which includes textbook and apps.

    Yet US is the only country in the world that spends

    more money on administration than on student/teacher/books/school.

    and you are optimistic. nothing on motivating the kids

    once the initial euphoria of tablet wears off.

    1. “…nothing on motivating the kids once the initial euphoria of tablet wears off…” –

      Tablets are merely a tool. They will not teach. But the combination of one-tablet-per-child and the easy access to cheap and creative new educational software does give me hope that a positive change in education is possible, and – perhaps – even probable.

    2. “Yet US is the only country in the world that spends more money on administration than on student/teacher/books/school.”

      – Do you have any data to support this assertion? I’d love to see best practices and how the terms as you described them are defined.

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