A Tablet Every Person Can Afford

In Sugata Mitra’s famous experiments all over India, he demonstrated that students in poverty-stricken areas have the ability to learn technology quickly if they have access to it.

Professor Mitra began his experiments by installing computers in public areas at a height appropriate for children’s eye level and then waiting to see what happened.

The results were profoundly interesting. In every scenario, students formed small groups of three or four and worked collaboratively to understand how to use the computer.

They learned rapidly and went on to use the computer to solve difficult problems presented to them. In one case, twelve-year-old students used a computer to study disease that occurs because of genetic mutation in DNA.

This was an academic study way beyond their years made possible just by the presence of a computer. That’s great, but how do you move that ability from experimental to practical?

The Aakash Tablet

Indian students may finally be able to duplicate Professor Mitra’s experiments all over India.

The Aakash tablet—originally known as the “$35 tablet”—is making its way into Indian education.

Although the price has risen to $49, the Indian government is subsidizing half the cost of each tablet for Indian students. This means that these students can have a tablet for $25.

And the tablet appears impressive too. It features 256 megabytes of RAM and a 2 gig flash memory.

The Aakash has a seven-inch touch screen and a battery with a three-hour charge life, as well as solar charging capability. Students in remote areas with no access to electricity can take advantage of the plentiful Indian sunshine to keep their tablets charged.

Application in Developed Countries

A cheap no-frills tablet like the Aakash has interesting implications for developed countries.

If the Kindle Fire represents a far cheaper purchase than an iPad, the Aakash is so cheap that cost isn’t even an issue. Public schools could benefit substantially and post-secondary students pursuing online education options could use a tablet without worrying about the initial entrance cost represented by the average tablet purchase.

The Aakash may not have all the bells and whistles as an iPad, but a $50 tablet that can do serious schoolwork is a game changer.

Narrowing the Technology Gap

The Indian government expects to have a million of these tablets delivered to students by the end of 2011.

That’s a substantial accomplishment and a good example of how technology could be integrated into U.S. schools during an economic downturn. Everyone agrees that technology in the classroom is an important part of education.

The problem is that while some school districts are able to afford tablets for students and replacing textbooks with e-books, many school districts can barely afford to fund basic infrastructure costs.

This means that tablet purchases for many schools hasn’t even been an option. But a $50 tablet represents less cost than an average textbook and is far cheaper than most college textbooks.

Buying Aakash tablets for every student could go a long way toward narrowing the gap between wealthy school districts and schools that have had to cut their costs even for bare necessities.

Jesse Langley
Jesse Langley lives in Austin where he works and enjoys the live music capital of world. He enjoys sports, social media and blogging. He writes on behalf of Colorado Technical University.
If you wish to write for techchai, you can get in touch using the write for us form above.

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One Response to “A Tablet Every Person Can Afford”

  1. tushar r.mehta says:

    want to buy one “Aakash” tablet pls tell me how to apply for the same online.

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