The GameBoy has been a big hit for youngsters (and oldsters, too), so I’m not surprised that Innovations For Learning’s new Teachermate handheld computer looks a lot like a Nintendo GameBoy. The size, button layout, and color scheme all give the impression that this is a fun gadget that Mario or Sonic would be pleased to call home. But upon closer inspection, the Teachermate looks like it could be an intriguing educational tool.
At the moment, the device is designed for elementary reading and math applications, but the SD card slot suggests that it could be used for much more than that down the road. If Innovations for Learning releases an SDK for it, I for one would be very tempted to get one just to try it out. They only cost $50, which is considerably cheaper than a GameBoy (although as I write this, they are listed as “out of stock” at Amazon).
In addition to the SD slot, the Teachermate has a 200 MHz ARM processor, half a gig of RAM, built-in speaker, headphone jack, and built-in microphone. Its battery can be charged up via an AC adapter, a USB connection to a computer, or using the optional “Synch and Store” device that can recharge and synchronize a classroom’s worth of Teachermates.
While I got the impression that this is a product still under development, it does look promising. Of particular interest to me were two research studies (funded by grants from the Spencer Foundation) showing positive results in early trials of the device. This is certainly a technology to keep an eye on. Read more about it at http://innovationsforlearning.org/.