Cameron Evans, Microsoft’s education chief information officer, doesn’t so much see the future holding a single device for one-to-one connections in classrooms, but what he terms “a richly connected ecosystem of learning devices, apps and services that are smart and aware of each other.”
For tablets, natively designed for consumers, not schools, to fulfill their potential in education, Evans says, they need to provide an interoperable experience across the device, cloud services, and existing school assets, such as hardware and instructional and management software. If students want to connect their tablets to a USB microscope for biology class, it should work without special accessories.
As far as an ideal device goes, Evans says that is yet to come, but among the essential elements it would include are a high-resolution screen for easy reading, and a range of accessibility features. “I would recommend a device that adapts quickly to a student’s choice of engagement, be it touch first, stylus based, speech recognition, handwriting recognition, or the venerable mouse and keyboard. Additionally, text to speech, language translation, and speech recognition are critical.”