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Welcome to the first in my year-end series "Top 10 Ed-Tech Trends of 2011." I've identified some of the most important trends from this year, which I'll be highlighting here over the course of the next few weeks.

At the beginning of the year, I made a couple of pronouncements about this being the Year of the Educational Tablet. I was wrong.

This was the Year of the iPad. Again.

It was clear fairly early in the year that the iPad would be hard to beat -- both commercially and in the classroom. Schools had already indicated a strong interest in the devices during the 2010 academic year, and by the time Steve Jobs unveiled the iPad 2 in March, it felt as though he was merely updating an already well-loved classroom device. Invoking the "crossroads of liberal arts and technology" in his presentation, Job announced an updated iPad that had just the sorts of features that educators (among others) had critiqued for being absent in the first iteration: the iPad 2 had a camera, for example. You could record pictures, video, your voice.

The iPad wasn't merely a consumption device. People talked about ditching their laptops for tablets at work; schools talked about ditching desktops for tablets too. And thus, if you believe the narrative offered by Steve Jobs, we entered the "post-PC era."

But it was apparent early in the year that other tablet makers were going to have a hard time getting their post-PC devices (the non-iPads) into classrooms. There was no rival Android tablet, no rival Windows tablet to speak of. In February, the well-funded and well-hyped Kno pivoted from hardware to software, abandoning its plans to build an educational tablet to build instead an e-textbook platform. When Kno launched in June, it was as an iPad app.

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Audrey Watters


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