Saturday, September 22, 2012

How Can Texas Instruments Adapt to Post-Tech-Monopoly Classrooms?

Bill Cosby has been right about a lot of things, but he might not have seen the future when he advertised the Texas Instruments TI-99 computer as "The One:"

I think I'm glad the TI-99 computer didn't become "The One," because when the TI-83 graphing calculator became "The One" for students, Texas Instruments showed they were all-too-happy to keep pushing that same basic technology for about the same price for 10+ years. Only when you have a tech monopoly can you resist that much change for so long.

Now I finally feel like TI is facing some real competition in the classroom. If I were them, I'd be developing and marketing smartphone apps that replicate the functionality of their calculators with one key feature: the ability for the user to put the app in "lock mode" which makes the device a dedicated calculator for a predetermined amount of time. I wouldn't worry about students cheating with their phones if I could see them trigger the lock mode at the beginning of a test and then prove to me at the end that the calculator app was the only app running the entire time. If TI could get that approved by the ACT and SAT, I think it's an app that students would gladly pay for.