Clark Quinn's Learnings about Learning
(The Official Quinnovation blog)

14 November 2012

Extending the tablet proposition

Clark @ 6:21 am

A few months ago, I opined about what the opportunities for mlearning with a tablet are.  And while I think I got it largely right, I missed one.

What I said before is that tablets make sense when you need a fair bit of data at once, and/or when your mobility constraints aren’t too severe.  There’s something nice about the big screen even if you don’t need the data, if you’ve the time and flexibility.  I take my iPad up to the living room, not my phone.  But you don’t take your tablet with you everywhere, like you do your phone.

So I was having a nice conversation with the CEO of an elearning firm, and he was talking about their customers and their mobile tablet solution. He was talking about sales as a large part of their business, and I was reminded that there was another situation where tablets make sense: sharing!

Sharing a tablet to look at something is much easier, and friendlier.  It’s even fun.  So if you need to show something to someone, or work with them together on something, tablets are a nicer solution. You can sit together looking at the screen, going through things, pointing to things, even acting on them.  I keep a number of images on the qPhone and qPad for sharing, but except for family photos, I prefer the tablet.  If I’m sharing diagrams, or one of the portfolio items I’ve stored, it’s better on the larger screen.

If social is part of the designed solution, tablets have a viable reason to be considered as a potential solution.   So, tablets make sense when you need the screen real estate, and/or when you have more freedom of movement and less constraints on size, and/or when you’re sharing your screen.  Make sense?


  1. Sharing potential is one of the things I loved about the original OLPC “notebook” (or whatever you want to call it.) The built-in mesh network made it easy to share things with other OLPCs nearby, and the software onboard seemed to facilitate that at every opportunity. Its not something I’ve noticed being done very well on any modern tablets I’ve used, which is a shame, but its also not something that its terribly easy to monetise, so I don’t think the manufacturers are particularly motivated to explore it.

    Comment by Rob Moser — 14 November 2012 @ 2:48 pm

  2. Actually, Rob, I was thinking of something more mundane, simply meaning I hold it and we both look at it, as opposed to sharing. There’s the commercial now about touching device to share videos, and things like GoClass create a mechanism for a teacher to share, and certain apps support certain types of sharing (e.g. Bump), and of course there’re social network tools. Still, I think you’re right that a more ubiquitous sharing might be interesting (an app where I can send something to yours more generically), but I’m not sure that’d be unique to tablets as much as what I intended.

    Comment by Clark — 14 November 2012 @ 5:38 pm

  3. Though I would think the simple, generic, app might be as monetizable (is that a word?) as other apps that focus on data-mining information about *what* people share.

    Comment by Clark — 14 November 2012 @ 5:39 pm

  4. It wouldn’t have to be complicated. Mesh net that automatically detects nearby potential connections – pops a notification up on the corner of the screen when there are any. Tap the notification to open a map of nearby connection possibilities, like the one OLPC used. Tap an icon to identify a machine as belonging to a friend and it auto-connects whenever you come in range in the future. Anyone you’ve ok-ed the connection to (or auto-connected with) brings up an icon on the desktop; flick files at the icon just like you do with the trash to send the file; flick apps at it to connect to that machine with that app. The problem is that it would need hardware and software to make it work – often hard to get people to do those in sync. Apple could do it.

    Comment by Rob Moser — 16 November 2012 @ 6:16 am

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