Android in Education
In recent years schools have predominately used the Microsoft Windows platform on PCs and Laptops to deliver educational content. However, more recently there has been an increase in the use of non-Windows based devices in education, most notably mobile and tablet computers. So how will these devices work within a school, what advantages do they have, and what is Android anyway?
Android - Google's Mobile Operating System
Android was developed by Google specifically for mobile devices and it is currently used in more that 50% of the world's smartphones. The first tablet-optimised version of Android (called Honeycomb) was released in 2011, and was designed to take advantage of the larger size and functionality of tablet devices.
A mobile operating system such as Android is well suited to the classroom. For instance, devices start quickly and can power on an off in seconds, they have better power management so batteries last longer, and they offer a less distracting environment than traditional desktop computing. Android version 4.0 (also known as Ice Cream Sandwich) was recently released and is preinstalled on LearnPad 2.
The World's Top Manufactures
Android has been adopted by many of the world's leading hardware manufacturers, including Toshiba, Lenovo, Acer, Samsung, Sony, Motorola, Asus, HTC, Dell and numerous others. All of these manufactures make Android devices, which gives schools a choice of hardware vendors, as well as a range of different devices with different functionality and varying prices. Schools are naturally wary of being locked into a single supplier, and Android offers great diversity in the availability both hardware and software.
Android runs Adobe Flash
One of the key advantages of Android over other mobile operating systems is that it natively supports the Adobe Flash platform, which accounts for around 95% of the educational content currently used in schools. Websites and content from great publishers such as Education City, Sherston, Yellow Door, Nessy and many others come to life with greater engagement and excitement on Android tablets.
Selecting a Flash-capable tablet device means you can keep using the digital resources that are already in your lesson plan.
External Devices & Network Drives
Android allows device manufactures to add standard connectivity ports, such as USB and MicroSD cards. This enables users to access their files and content in a more traditional way, as well as upgrading storage capacity and connecting existing peripheral devices such as keyboards and memory sticks.
LearnPad takes advantage of Android's open-source code to develop direct connections to networks shares, so students can access and open their documents from the school file server, without the need for expensive additional servers or software.
Flexible, Customisable & Free
Android is an "Open Source" operating system, which means manufactures are able to change and develop the system to provide custom functionally. Unlike Apple's iOS and other proprietary operating systems, developers are free to re-write the operating system and enhance and customise it to support different hardware devices and functionality. Avantis selected Android for this very reason: so that LearnPad could be tailored to a school's network environment, rather than having to modify existing network resources to support new devices such as the iPad.