Bill Gates dismisses tablets in education

Karen Haslam
28 June, 2012
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Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates thinks that tablets do not meet the needs of education. Instead, he suggests that a low cost PC would be a better solution as it would allow students to be “highly interactive”.

Gates was asked what changes would be required for tablets to make a difference in education by an interviewer from the Chronicle of Higher Education. In his response, Gates claims that: “Just giving people devices, that has a really terrible track record.”

The difficulty with tablet devices is that “You really have to change the curriculum and the teacher.”

He adds: “It’s never going to work on a device where you don’t have keyboard-type input. I mean, students aren’t there just to read things – they’re supposed to actually be able to write and communicate.”

This argument makes more sense when discussing a Kindle or similar ebook reader, but doesn’t seem to take into consideration the availability of apps for tablet devices that offer the user much more than the opportunity to read.

But Gates believes that the PC is a better example of an interactive tool. He says: “This is a lot more in the PC realm and what’s going to be a low cost PC that lets them be highly interactive”.

However, the limiting factor isn’t the device so much as the price of internet access, Gates says. He suggests: “It’ll be interesting to have special policies that let people get access to that.”

The video of the interview is available here, via The Verge.



3 people were compelled to have their say. We encourage you to do the same..

  1. Martin Levins says:

    He is not only assuming that students will only have one device, but more importantly that we should keep the existing curriculum and pedagogy. And he is propagating the nonsense that a tablet is a consumption device only.

  2. Peter T. says:

    . . . and people wonder why MS is going backwards while Apple is surging ahead!

  3. Pedro says:

    He’s wrong. The current iPads etc. aren’t for me but the lower Primary classes in my childrens’ school are already making good use of them, and as they become better suited for old-fashioned productivity work (writing essays, calculating, keeping records, etc.) they will extend upwards towards Secondary and Tertiary education, and when they can eventually communicate with each other directly or via an in-classroom connectivity system they will become the platform of choice for a multitude of interactive options, from chess and scrabble and other traditional board game adaptations to a multitude of other interactive educational apps not even thought of yet.

    When I did my teacher training many years ago I concluded that the ideal classroom would not be a classroom at all but an open system that allowed each student to progress at his-her own pace with the teacher becoming a learning facilitator and mentor rather than a deliver of educational content. Thas was impossible back then, but tablet computers could make it possible in the very near future.

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