Here's another 2011 Holiday Gift Guide entry for the kids, as we feature the Vtech Innotab Learning Tablet. This multi-functional tablet combines interactive animated e-books, tilt-sensor learning games, creative activities, and a rich collection of applications into a sleek and durable toy that kids will want to play with. Cartridges with your child's favorite licensed characters are sold separately and teach essential skills in reading, logic, and creativity.
You can pick up a Vtech Innotab for $79 on Amazon.
Read More | Vtech InnoTab
I know I'm not the only parent out there that has to give up the iPad to the children on a regular basis, and that's why we're putting the LeapFrog LeapPad in our 2011 Holiday Gift Guide. It's a personalized learning tablet optimized for kids ages 4 through 9. It's got a 5-inch touch display, built-in camera that can record video, and ships with four apps. More apps are available for download, and they focus on various educational topics like reading, math, science, geography, art, music, and more. You can pick up the LeapPad on Amazon now for $99.
Read More | LeapFrog LeapPad
There is going to be a lot of debate over the fact that American students are again falling behind in their education. According to National Assessment of Educational Progress, American children are nothing less than pathetic when it comes to understanding science.
This whole mess will be blamed on all sorts of things, probably all valid. But who, besides me, is going to blame the computer? Has anyone noticed that ever since the computer was brought into the classroom, student test scores have been falling? Does anyone find this coincidence weird? After all, the computer is, in itself, a teaching machine, of sorts.
Over the years, I've seen a lot of quasi-teaching software and educational software companies come and go, but can you name one large or middle-sized software company that specializes in educational software for children in grade school now? Just try to name one.
The biggest software company in the world, Microsoft, used to have some educational software sold under its discontinued Home brand, but I have no idea what became of it. The company, along with the Gates Foundation, promotes the idea of computers in the classroom, but it seems more of a ploy to make kids comfortable using Windows than anything else.
For science education, the greatest thing a computer can do is to show scientific principals in a way no blackboard or discussion could ever do, with graphical representation and full motion animation. You'd think that with all the computers that have been installed in school that American kids would be wizards by now. But no.
We’ve gotta hand it to PeeWee PC, as their Pivot Tablet Laptop looks exactly like something that would be a home run in the hands of a technology-curious child. Don’t go comparing this to the OLPC XO, though, because the Pivot Tablet starts at $599.99. What do you get for the cash? Let’s run down some of the specs. First of all, the Pivot Tablet Laptop if drop-resistant and spill-resistant, which immediately should give a bit of piece of mind to parents (like me) who know the horrors of kids + tech + juice. It also has a handle, making it easy for the children to tote the 3 pound device around. Getting into the nitty gritty, the Pivot Tablet Laptop sports a 10-inch touch-sensitive rotating display with stylus, 6-cell Li-ion battery, a 1.6GHz Intel Atom N270 processor, 1GB RAM, a 1.3 megapixel camera, and a 60GB hard drive. Not too shabby. You’ve also got two USB 2.0 ports, Ethernet, and Wi-Fi, and the whole thing ships with Windows XP Home, which is customized with a theme of your choice (things liek Disney, Sci-Fi, etc.). Being a device for kids, there is also a security suite that let’s you keep on eye on what the little one is up to while using the device as well.
You can pick one up starting today.
Read More | PeeWee Pivot Laptop product page
Gallery: PeeWee Pivot Tablet Laptop for kids
Academic Earth is a new site dedicated to offering free learning with online video lectures and courses. There are thousands of them from 6 universities and dozens of instructors. Subjects include astronomy, computer science, chemistry, economics, mathematics and physics. Their goal, they say, is “giving everyone on earth access to a world class education.” We find this to be a noble plan and applaud the site in its efforts. They also welcome input to help improve it.
Read More | Academic Earth
LeapFrog has been putting out sophisticated learning products for years. Their latest toy is the a Text & Learn, designed for tots whose parents have Blackberrys or iPhones and won’t share. There is a pretend browser mode, learning games and a QWERTY keyboard to teach them to type. Recommended for kids ages 3 to 6, they can send and receive text messages with Scout the puppy. The Text & Learn made its debut at the recent UK Toy Fair and will be available sometime this summer for $21.99.
Read More | LeapFrog
Shades of Chucky. MIT Media Labs Personal Robotics Group has created Nexi, an MDS (Mobile/Dexterous/Social) bot that moves, has some dexterity, and communicates. About the size of a 3-year old, they hope that the robot will excel in areas of human/robot interaction, teamwork, and learning. While this is another step forward in the annals of robotics, the video kind of creeped us out. We wonder what would happen if a real child encountered it.
Read More | MIT Personal Robotics Group
Toshiba is working on a new robot that doubles as a voice-operated remote for all your appliances. At a size of 8 x 11-inches and a weight of only 5 lb., ApriPoko learns by watching and questioning your actions, such as “What did you just do?”
Talk back to the bot (“I turned on the stereo”) and he will memorize your actions. When you want that stereo turned on the next time, he will happily oblige with an IR signal. Think of the implications in years to come for the prototype.
“I got a beer from the fridge.”
“I flushed the toilet.”
“I called my boss and told him I was very sick.”
“I have to go see my mother-in-law.”
SuTree is a new community based education site aimed at bringing together e-learning content creators and their community. Much like a video oriented Instructables, SuTree allows users to create and share videos helping users learn anything from how to make cheesecake, to how to speak a foreign language. The recent boom of online knowledge silos is a fantastic boon for the entire world - sites like SuTree, Wikipedia, MAKE, and Etsy are helping everyone learn new things and share their knowledge using the power of the internet with the power of user-created content.