My Thoughts on Technology and Jamaica: UWI Medical Sciences Students get deal on JL Mobile SmartTab Tablets and cheaper ebook versions of Textbooks - From Gross Anatomy to Islandwide Push towards Tablet Adoption

Sunday, November 18, 2012

UWI Medical Sciences Students get deal on JL Mobile SmartTab Tablets and cheaper ebook versions of Textbooks - From Gross Anatomy to Islandwide Push towards Tablet Adoption



“I think it is going to be an example for the other institutions to follow and I am sure they will, very shortly, and it is demonstrating leadership, which this university has always done and which I think is critical not only in Jamaica but the wider region,”

State Minister for Science, Technology, Energy and Mining, Hon. Julian Robinson at the Press Briefing on Wednesday November 14th 2012, The JIS (Jamaica Information Service)

The Ministry of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining is going bonkers over Tablets. Parliamentarians are gonna get a few Microsoft Surface Tablets to lighten their briefcases and save on printing in a GOJ (Government of Jamaica) that’s addicted to paper as noted in my blog article entitled “GOJ Parliamentarians upgraded to Microsoft Surface Tablets and GovNET Wide Area Network - Minister Paulwell efforts to reduce paper may accelerate Jamaican Tablet Adoption”.

Now they’ve extended the idea to the Faculty of Medicine, more popularly known on UWI (University of the West Indies) Campus as Med Sci. These overly stressed students have one less thing to worry about, as they’ve been gifted SmartTabTablets and cheaper e-book versions of their expensive textbooks as reported in “Medical Students Saving Big through eBooks”, published Wednesday, 14 November 2012 12:47, The Jamaica Information Service.

A partnership between JL Mobile, makers of the 7”SmartTab and the UWI, this is basically a lackluster Tablet maker trying to hustle a cheap Tablet. This is no Apple iPad or even Amazon Kindle Fire HD. Still, it’s the thought that counts and its focus on education is what matters in a move that’s a clone of my suggestion in my Geezam blog article entitled “$25 Raspberry Pi Mini USB PC and the $22 Aakash Tablet – Computer Adoption on a Budget”.

That’s because for a Med Sci Student, the Price is right:

1.      US$200 for the SmartTab Tablet; close to the cost of a Google Nexus 7 or even an Amazon Kindle Fire
2.      US$200 per year access fee to all Med Sci Textbooks in e-book format, DRM Free (??)
3.      Seven (7) months Warranty on Parts and Servicing. After that it’s yours to keep

The specs as per JL Mobile’s Pricing and Specification Page are fairly introductory when compared with any other Tablet on offer, such as the Apple iPad or even the Google Nexus 7 or the Amazon Kindle Fire HD:

1.      7” Capacitive Touchscreen
2.      Android 4 aka Ice Cream Sandwich Operating System
3.      1.2GHz ARM A10 Boxchip CPU
4.      512MB DDR3 RAM
5.      4GB onboard Storage expandable via Micro SD Card Slot
6.      800 x 480 WVGA pixel resolution with 16:9 Aspect Ratio
7.      Supports 1920 x 1080 HD video
8.      HDMI Video
9.      Wi-Fi Internet Enabled
10.  Adobe Flash Support

Throw in a Microsoft Kinect and the Microsoft Xbox 360 Technology as a teaching tool for difficult surgical procedures as described in my blog article entitledMicrosoft Kinect used to Teach Aneurysm Surgical procedures - A Gross Anatomy Future controlled by Voice and Gestures” as well as the dreaded Gross Anatomy classes and your ten (10) year sojourn through Med Sci is complete.

Most likely this will spark a Tablet War on Campus, as other UWI Student get wind of the idea and start buying US$199 Google Nexus 7, Amazon Kindle Fire HD Tablets or even the Apple iPad Mini Tablet and sourcing the ebooks in *.pdf format via torrenting on Kickasstorrents.com.

After all, this is UWI, the Piracy Capital of the Caribbean when it comes to books and content as noted in my blog article entitledUWI and Piracy - Release the Kraken” and “UWI and Piracy - The Real Pirate Bay”!

Most likely the e-books, obviously subsidized and possibly without DRM protection, may be shielded from piracy via a MAC Address Registration that prevents access of the books from multiple device by having the books readable in a proprietary software that has to authenticate to a Server whenever it’s opened. Security enough for Med Sci Students trying to make it through college, as many of them are not Tech savvy and have already gotten used to buying expensive gadgets, part and parcel of being a Doctor.

But my cynicism with regards to the SmartTab’s specs aside, it’s heartening to see, despite the money-making spiel song-and-dance being put on by JL Mobile that this does have some serious implications for Education and Computing in Jamaica. This as the Tablets can be subsidized and given to all students, from Primary School, High School straight to Tertiary Level in a bid to get everyone in Jamaica not only tech-savvy and computer literate, but also save on textbooks.

Just as being done by the Government of India with the BritishTablet maker DataWind’sAakash Tablet, now in its much improved second iteration and subsidized to US$20 as stated in the article entitled “India unveils new version of 'world's cheapest tablet'”, published November 12, 2012, PhysOrg.

The Minister for Science, Technology, Energy and Mining, Phillip Paulwell, need to champion such a project as suggested in my Geezam blog article entitled “$25 Raspberry Pi Mini USB PC and the $22 Aakash Tablet – Computer Adoption on a Budget”. State Minister for Science, Technology, Energy and Mining, Hon. Julian Robinson at the Press Briefing on Wednesday November 14th 2012 said as much as quoted at this article’s beginning.

If Tablets, most likely Microsoft Surface Tablets, are good enough for the Parliamentarians, then all Students from Prep and Primary School straight up to the Tertiary level should be availed of the cost-saving, paper Saving and book-buying saving of this modern version of the Slate that many older Jamaicans may remember.

Not only to just save on the cost of Textbooks, (by whatever means), but also to introduce the next generation of students to Tablet Computing and hopefully choose careers in IT (Information Technology) and Engineering. By the time they are working, Jamaicans would not only be full computer literate and Programming savvy, but also access to Computing and Broadband Internet would’ve significantly improved by 2015.

2 comments:

TanyaGDavies said...

Hi, Did you test the lackluster Smart Tab? I actually tried it and the only concern for me would be longevity/quality because it isn't a brand name but I was decently impressed with what I tested. Apple doesn't "make" it's iPad(s) so who really knows who is putting it together. This applies to Google and Amazon as well. To me the initiative is really what is highly commendable and if Smart Tab was willing work with JL Mobile...so be it. They may not remain JL Mobile's ultimate vendor but something has started to move Jamaica into the real digital age. I actually decided to buy the mini-version when my book grant renews because I was that impressed; enough to place my order.

Unknown said...

I had the privilege of working with one recently myself and was quite impressed as well, not only with the price but performance also. I also admired the keypad that came with it which is quite convenient. I guess what I'm saying is in my opinion, it is actually a really good buy, ofcourse we won't compare it to an ipad or a galaxy but its performance is one worth mentioning