So using the devices for something that I would like to take 5 minutes usually takes 15-20, with the associated distractions of attention and loss of momentum. It seems like with all the preparation in the world, I can't get these interludes to take less than 15 minutes, and I can't ever, hardly ever, get it so every single student can participate. And mind you, I am not a noob at this stuff. At the risk of sounding hubristic, I'm probably one of the more experienced classroom-tech-deploying teachers you are likely to meet. And everytime I'm like, "Oooh, we need a device for this part," I'm also like, "Crap. Is there any way I can avoid this?"
This is a huge problem and if you're a technology coordinator, this is your huge problem.
The difficulty of setting up and configuring these devices for a teacher's own, personal learning is dwarfed by the difficulty of doing the same at classroom scale. It's so difficult that highly competent educators like Kate would rather find another solution. That's before you even look at the bottom 99% of computer-using educators.
At the very least, I hope anecdotes like Kate's will put to rest specious comparisons to cash registers for grocers, CAD software for architects, and Bloomberg terminals for stock analysts. They aren't even in the same universe of access and usability.
I’ve been basically leaning toward tools which can either be installed on every kids computer easily, or which get shared via a link. Nothing else. The time from sharing the tool to using the tool is minimal in both cases, which helps reduce associated problems with task transfer.
Here follows an example of one of the problems with classroom tech. I am the guy in my school that is supposed to make the tech work. We purchased 60 iPads (not my idea). The administrator had planned that the teaching strategy would involve an app called AirServer which allowed iPads to project through a PC. AirServer was very non-cooperative so of course the usage plan took a digger. The teachers would not make teaching plans with tech that was not reliable. I now have a lot of unused iPads. Proper field testing would have solved a lot of time and money. But iPads in education are the cool thing so away we went. No testing, no significant teacher training and no curriculum writing or planning. From my reading this scenario does not appear to be uncommon.
It is my huge problem.