A Twist on the iPad Mini’s Intended Purpose: The Classroom

The iPad Mini is still technically a rumor, but it’s all but been confirmed from various inside sources to any numbers of news and rumor outlets. We’re fairly certain that Apple will announce the device in short order, and among the likely true reports are that this smaller iPad will have a 7-inch (or so) form factor and will cost far less than the full-size iPad--possibly as low as $249.

One of the aspects of the iPad Mini that hasn’t been discussed ad nauseum is it’s intended purpose. Obviously, on the one hand Apple needs a smaller tablet to compete in the growing 7-inch market, so that’s a no-brainer. However, according to BusinessWeek, Apple also views the iPad Mini as ideal for the classroom.

Apple has developed some impressive-looking educational resources, but even if schools opt for iPads instead of laptops or desktops in classrooms, the price tag for a fleet of even basic tablets is incredibly steep. If this little iPad indeed comes in under $250, though, that changes things for school districts who are keeping an eye on the bottom line but want to bring new technology into their schools.

Setting aside for a moment the copious costs associated with purchasing the devices, loading them with software, training teachers to use it all, and general hardware and software lifecycle management, putting iPads into kids’ hands is wonderful. The touch interface is intuitive for everyone, Apple’s educational platform looks superb, and there’s a certain je ne se quoi about tablets that sucks kids in and grabs their attention.

Of course, there are plenty of school districts out there that simply cannot afford this sort of technology even at under $250 a pop, but it’s nice to see that there’s going to be a more affordable option coming for the schools that can.