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Is the iPad Mini too small for the Classroom?

Apple announced the new iPad Mini today and as so often the rumors and leaked pictures of prototypes we have seen over the past couple of months were pretty accurate. And we can be sure that the latest product in the Apple lineup will sell like sliced bread.

As you know, education and especially the K12 space is one of the major markets for Apple products. During Apple’s third quarter conference call both Apple’s CFO Peter Oppenheimer and CEO Tim Cook underlined Apple’s strong growth in education.

Especially the iPad 2 which saw a significant price drop when the new iPad was introduced in March was driving the growth in sales.

So what about the new iPad Mini? With a price starting at $329 and good hardware features this could be a great tablet for the education space, right?

Well, Scott McLeod pointed out that the new Common Core assessments which have been released in April require tablets to have a screen size of at least 9.5 inches.

#Apple fans: iPad Mini = 7.9″ diagonal, iPad 4 = 9.7″ diagonal. Common Core assessments require 9.5″ or greater

— Scott McLeod (@mcleod) October 23, 2012

The display size of the iPad Mini is 7.9 inches which means that it is too small and therefore misses the minimum hardware specs by the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) and the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC).

The guidelines are not binding but designed to "inform current and future [technology] purchasing decisions" in K-12 in order to ensure that schools are equipped to deliver the next generation of assessments coming in the 2014-2015 school year.

This means of course that other smaller tablets like the Nexus 7 or Kindle Fire HD 7 inch also don’t meet these guidelines.

So we are somewhat back at the discussion how big or how small a tablet needs to be in order to make sense in education. Most content on the tablet will be in form of a digital textbook. If you remember, Kno which presented its own dedicated tablet for education back in 2010 argued that a tablet needs to be of the same size as current textbooks. Then Apple launched the first iPad and digital publishers including Kno adapted the size of their textbooks to the 9.7 inch screen.

Though 7 inch tablets are hugely popular in the consumer space it is hard to say if the smaller screen size makes sense in an educational setting. And this leads to the question if the idea of having one device / tablet is going to be enough or if there will be a dedicated device for education with a bigger screen alongside the smaller consumer and maybe corporate version.

Picture via Apple


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