I made a comment in an earlier post about Intel's latest Classmates that a pricepoint of $500 on a tablet-based Classmate loaded with Edubuntu would be incredibly attractive. One reader in particular, however, called this combination a "complete waste of money."
Others pointed to the need for fewer slick features like touch screens and motion sensors and more serious educational applications. While I fully agree that the applications are going to make or break 1:1 computing and widespread adoption of tech in the classroom, I have to say $500 for a tablet loaded with Edubuntu's already considerable educational software stack seems like a steal.
Should $450 or $400 be the actual target price? Maybe, but I hardly see these little machines as a waste. Pilot after pilot shows that kids collaborate and learn in new ways using devices like the Classmate. Similarly, a growing body of software allows for self-paced and differentiated instruction, even when teacher time and resources for such differentiation is really limited.
I just spent over $900 a pop on laptops for 4 mobile labs at the elementary level. The main goal is to explore new learning models and facilitate the use of response to intervention software in much larger groups of kids. If I could have done this for $500/computer and given kids the ability to continue using the computers even when traditional machines would get set aside (during science and math lessons, for example, when the tablet mode provides huge amounts of flexibility), then it's really a money savings, not a waste.
What do you think? What is the ideal pricepoint for Intel's new touch-enabled Classmates (we'll assume the OS is free)?