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IT education supplier trusts Android to boost tablet uptake in schools

by Doug Drinkwater

December 23 2011

Oxfordshire, England -- Leading British education supplier RM Education concedes that its Windows 7 tablet has not fared well, but expects Android and Windows 8 tablets to boost uptake of slate-like devices in schools.

RM Education supplies its own and resells third-party IT products (including both Apple and Android tablets) to schools, and expects Android models to have some success in  the short term, a surprise to TabTimes when we visited the company’s 'Real' centre near Oxford, England.

“It’s mainly a price thing, which is pretty important seeing that schools now have less money to spend on IT,” said Paula Tate, product manager for mobile devices at RIM Education, when commenting as to why Android tablets would come to the fore.

“The interface is also familiar to most children, and Windows currently has a problem in that it is not touch optimized and doesn’t offer much content.”

In terms of Android models, RM Education currently offers the Asus Transformer Prime, a few models from Archos and is looking to start offering models from Toshiba in the near future.

RM develops its own products and has launched netbook and tablet-like devices in the past, with the Windows 7-powered RM Slate tablet debuting last year.  Simon Carp, a product technology engineer at the company, admitted the device could have fared better.

“Windows 7 is valuable but not touch optimized, and that means, to some degree, the RM Slate has not done as well as we thought it could do. Hopefully, it will be better with Windows 8.”

RM Education is excited about the future of Windows 8 and has been testing the beta version since Microsoft’s Build conference. This testing has seen the company test the operating system internally and even invite school IT support to a series of seminars across the UK.

“We’ve had some really great feedback, and it seems to be giving more of the benefits you see from iOS and Android,” said Carp. “That said, I think Microsoft still has some questions to answer in terms of content.”

Interestingly, RM Education says that most schools and students see Amazon as the only competitor to iPad in the classroom, despite the tablet not yet being launched in the UK.

The company also believes that schools are getting smarter at driving innovation in schools, despite being ‘squeezed’ on budgets, and believes that this in part explains the drive by some schools to support bring-your-own device (BYOD) and parent purchase schemes for tablets.

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