Cheap Laptops or Integrated Cloud Systems for Education?
One of the most heated debates in many emerging economies and third-world countries is tying education to device ownership. The original mentality of NGO programs that use e-learning to support remote communities online is to provide over-the-counter laptops. These would normally have a face value of under a hundred dollars per machine. The schemes would even do away with Value Added Tax in the country of use.
Now there is the integrated system that brings together a myriad of such devices in a classroom and makes them more than a mere local network. Each machine is answerable to the system, as a whole, but its main drive is to engage rather than teach. Originally, having a computer was necessary for getting instant answers or receiving lectures through asynchronous means. Cloud computing systems are now acting as a means for learners.
This poses the question: will there be a need for students to have cheap laptops of their own, or they need to join the cloud fully through integrated systems?The argument seems to cast the dice in favor of the integral systems. A single device may be easy enough to avail, especially through government support. But at the end of the day, it is only in use for referencing. The systems on the other hand are bringing a new context, which some advanced gadgets like the tablets use. These are challenging programs. Learners will be approaching a teaching session from an argumentative angle and thus hone their skills of answering questions through logic rather than memorizing.
An added advantage of the integrated cloud systems of education is that they will balance the micro-learning platform. This means that each laptop will contribute an application, here and there, to the whole, and thus allow the learners to exert their minds through inquisitiveness. They may want to explore why a certain technology or app works on a certain machine and not on another. In other words, they will be on the road to understanding the free-for-all cloud and probably end up creating their own open source programs to enhance compatibility.
Though a portable computer has certain advantages like low power demands and cheap prices, it fails when it comes to accessing things offline. An integrated model of cloud computing, which various tech brands are already coming up with, is reducing the enslavement to the Internet that gadgets have always brought about. There are format programs that are complete in themselves. They can operate at any time, requiring only an external connection to a device with a screen. These can also provide podcasts of an experiment that is taking place by showing audiovisual details as students learn.
There is no doubt that laptops may be getting ready to become part of typical school programs, through subsidization. But they do not hold a candle to the aptness of integrated cloud systems. The cloud is leading the way to a more enterprising method of education where students settle more challenges, individually, than what they get from their tutors.
By John Omwamba