Platform Free is the Future
I don’t think there are too many arguments out there to challenge that mobile technology, particularly, tablets, are going to be the future of how students will access curriculum content. It’s already happening in a number of secondary schools where iPads and Fizzbooks have been deployed to students with their textbooks preloaded. As content becomes more and more ubiquitous, the challenge for these providers will be how it’s going to be deployed.
Unfortunately life won’t be simple. Back in the 1990′s content was developed for Windows in Ireland. We had (and still have) lots of CD-ROMs with titles such as Millie’s Maths House, Who Took the Book and The Vikings. I was involved in Who Took the Book and didn’t once consider any other platform other than Windows as almost 100% of schools in Ireland used this operating system.
The Tablet market seems to have 3-4 big players that are not going to go away. Windows, of course, will be one of them. Android and Apple’s iOS are the other two main players. (I can envisage Linux working its way in soon enough too.) The problem is that all three platforms are incompatible with each other. This may have the consequence of schools committing to buying only one type of device, for example, the iPad and only running iOS apps.
While, in the short term, this might sound like a good idea, in the not-so-distant future, the concept of BYOD will happen. BYOD means Bring Your Own Device, and will open up the classroom to children bringing in their own tablets, phones and other devices in order to do their school work. This means, we will have lots of different operating systems in action. This will make problems for companies who only develop their products in one flavour.
The only solution is for companies to design and produce their content to work on any device. History has shown that there is generally one winner in the area of technology. Think BetaMax vs VHS and Windows vs everyone else in the 1990s. However, I don’t think this will be the case for this. I believe this market is so big that there is plenty of room for a few companies to grab a slice of the tablet pie. The content will be king and the winners will be the ones that can adapt to whatever piece of hardware they happen to be on.