Amplify, an independent subsidiary of News Corp., shook the education technology world when it unveiled its tablet in March of this year — and now at one school, kids are getting in on the Amplify act.
Mount Olive High School in New Jersey launched its 1:1 technology initiative with Amplify to use tablets in the classroom. With mass 1:1 programs, tech support is always a key issue, so the school picked 15 students to provide support for the 400 students and 31 teachers who use Amplify tablets in the classroom and at home.
Mount Olive educators believe placing students in a support role makes them feel a sense of ownership and responsibility in the initiative. It gives them confidence to be able to troubleshoot the issues not just of their peers, but also their teachers.
Amplify trained those 15 students on both the student and teacher versions of the tablet and set up a help-desk email system. The 15-member group was named Mount Olive's Advance Team, or A Team.
A Team is responsible for answering questions from students and teachers who face problems with tablets. If A Team cannot solve the issue, the questions then move on to Mount Olive and Amplify tech support teams.
Freshman Gavin Weeber, also a lover of technology, appreciated that his A Team status would give him a sneak peek at the device over the summer. "I joined as a way to learn how to use the tablets early on, and to be able to help people instead of being helped," Weeber said, adding that students and teachers are getting comfortable with the new practices they're putting into place with the tablets in class, and finding that it saves them time from performing mundane tasks.
The 10-inch tablet runs a modified version of Google's Android 4.2 Jelly Bean with an Nvidia Tegra 3 quad-core processor with a 12-core GPU, a 5 megapixel camera, a microSD slot, micro HDMI port, and micro USB port, writes Dylan Tweney of Venture Beat.
The Amplify tablet includes Chrome, Mail, Calendar, Google+, Skype and other essential applications. It is available in two versions. The Wi-Fi-only version costs $199 per year and the version including 4G data connectivity is available at $325 per year, both with a 3-year contract.
Amplify also has developed a mobile device management (MDM) platform for K–12 education. It allows district IT to manage thousands of tablets remotely and securely. Administrators can easily provision and configure each device down to an individual user basis—all wirelessly, with no need for charging or sync carts. Devices can be tracked, locked and wiped with the push of a button, according to the Amplify website.