A Question About iPads and other slate computers

November 26, 2011 — Gayl Bowser

I have watched, with interest, the very rapid change in the world of technology that started with the iPad and has continued with products from a multitude of companies.  Yesterday I looked at the Black Friday ads in my local newspaper and counted about twelve different brands.  As an educator, I have thought a great deal about these new products and their introduction into schools around the country.  I've also thought a lot about their use as assistive technology.

I have always believed that the best way to choose an AT solution for a child is to think about the features that the child needs in order to complete a task.  For a while, slate computers baffled me because they have different features depending on the app that was chosen.  I thought they were like computers and software.  And in some ways they are.  Each app offers different features and different options for those features.  That part is like a computer.

Lately, though I've been trying to develop a different kind of feature list.  I think that there are actually some features of  iPads and other slates that make them uniquely qualified to meet the needs of some children.  I want to share this list with you and see if you can help me add to it.  My goal is to develop a list that can be used in feature matching that is specific to the device itself so that when there are questions or disagreements about what a child may need, we can use the list in an organized fashion to make AT decisions.  I hope you'll help.

Here's my first try at creating a feature list for slate computers. 

  • Instant on
  • Easy to learn
  • Few steps to operate
  • Immediate access to the information
  • Ability to multi-task.
  • Ability to switch between tasks quickly
  • Lightweight
  • Portable
  • Small size
  • Easy to start/stop/setup
  • Engaging
  • Consistent interface for all apps

What would you add to this list?