Park Manor School pilots BlackBerry PlayBook program in classrooms

By Adam Zeis on 29 Feb 2012 12:09 pm EST

The Park Manor School is testing a new program that brings the BlackBerry PlayBook tablet into the classroom. The school is currently using the PlayBook in two of its grade 6 classrooms and allows students to use the tablet for research, fun activities and other educational purposes. The students use the PlayBook on a daily basis and principal James Bond (yes, James Bond) says it helps them to "create good digital citizenship". The feedback seems positive thus far and is helping students to learn in ways they never could before. Check out the video above for more.

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Reader comments

Park Manor School pilots BlackBerry PlayBook program in classrooms


This will definitely be great for students. Mobile Fusion on the PlayBook will be the ultimate knock-out for any school or corporation that is serious about using a tablet for learning purposes and not for wasting time on games.

My 4 year old has been using mine since I got it. She uses it for our "school" time to write her numbers and letters, we read stories on it and play a couple of educational games. She hasn't started Kindergarten yet and knows all her letters and numbers to 50 by sight and has begun to recognize words. LOVE my PlayBook.

Same here. My daughter plays several games on my PB too. she'll be starting "school" this upcoming Fall (She is about to be 3). Due to the time we dedicate to guide her and read to her with the PlayBook, I believe she will be well prepared for the stuff they do at 3 years old in "school". For the birthday wish I ask for a used 16GB for my daughter. She will be teaching the class if she has her own PlayBook to learn from now til September. lol

I often have to pry my daughter's fingers off my PlayBook! She is SERIOUSLY addicted. She's only 6. Her favourite game is Sling Golf!

Hi Kerri,

Ty from RIM here. What a cool way to help your daughter learn! Keep it up, and you may have a future app developer on your hands. BlackBerry App World continues to grow, so more great educational apps are on the way. As she gets a bit older, another app you may want to check out is “What’s Up,” an astronomy app that helps teach aspiring stargazers the universe. Here’s a link if you want to pick it up for your PlayBook:


Ty, RIM Social Media Team

In a time of tight budgets I hope people consider the Playbook vs. other tablets due to the portability and the incredibly lower cost.

A few weeks ago I was talking to somebody who was part of a similar program at a private school with ipads. There really is a lot potential in this market.

What a promotional opportunity for RIM to use for a commercial. Also, with this the students could use those future features seen at MWC with the presentation sharing and editing. How cool it would be for the teacher to be able to screen write on her PB and send it to the class units or between groups in class working on shared brainer for marketing IMHO.

Haaaa...haaaa but I am still waiting to be able to sync my 9850 calendar with my PB. :-)

Damn, James Bond? hahaha. It does makes sense for tablets in education. Instead of carrying heavy textbooks, just one tablet. Instead of using paper to take notes and end up losing them, just one tablet. Instead of bringing a voice recorder, just use the tablet. It saves the trees as well....

though it would be nice to have a pen base input instead of just relying the keyboard.

A lot of the schools here in Colorado issue netbooks to Freshman. My daughter uses a stylus to write her letters and numbers on my PlayBook :)

RIM needs to capitalize on these opportunities and spread the program to as much schools as possible. Here in NYC, they are starting a pilot program with iPads on the back seat of taxi's so that the riders can "be connected" instead of looking at the current monitors with advertisements... RIM could also attempt to get in the game...

I love watching all the new applications that the playbook can do!

If Blackberry is smart they will get into the education market fast. Kids nowadays know their way around these devices instintively, and the willingness to learn is an added bonus. My kids' school installed a WiFi system so that the senior students could bring in there devices to use for research and learning. They also have a couple of smart boards for the Teachers to teach the younger students and they rave about it! My 7 year old LOVES his ipod and when I showed him my playbook, he just took off with it! After all he can play angry birds with a bigger screen! He's also LD so that the new technology can help him with the reading and writing he needs. Go Blackberry!

Cool! This is a school near me that used to be known as a "bad" school so it's good to see that they are doing something positive to change things. Also very cool that the principal is James Bond. Perhaps I should be letting my niece (grade 5) be using my Playbook more... something to think about.

"All comments are my own or at least I think they are but I don't discount alien invasions."

Pretty soon we won't need teachers or class rooms..... since they seem to be handing things over to the technology.

I am a tech teacher at an elementary school, and this interests me greatly. I recently switched to Google Apps with my 3rd through 5th grades. If we were to use a PlayBook in the classroom, the ability to view and modify Google Docs would be of the utmost importance. Not owning a PlayBook myself, can anybody here comment on how the PlayBook interacts with Google Docs (and Google Apps in general)? Thanks in advance.

Nice.....but all of our local middle schools here don't use tablets lol......the kids here have to use their head and books only

Wow...I'm a science teacher in New Mexico and I would LOVE to know if there is a grant or point of contact for a program to get these in MY school. Like the ads say, "I need tools, not toys."

Thank god I am not from New Mexico. lol, with a name like Wolfgang I would opt my daughter out of your class. lol jk

Well its not true for the younger children, alone due to the big size of iPad. Just few weeks back in my niece's school, kids broke 2 iPads as they were too big for them to handle.

My 3 year & half kid uses my playbook more than me. I bought him a less expensive android tablet so he will not go over to my playbook, apparently does not like to use it not even a minute. Now I have no choice but to get another playbook for him but here in the Philippines 16Gb playbook still cost around $400 so I have one of my relative in Canada to buy me one for $199.

The cool demo RIM showed of playbooks exchanging information at MWC is something they should be giving to this school, the kids would love it, and it's excellent pr. The kids would go nuts for bubbles on the screen...

RIM should also get a Texas Instruments Graphing Calculator app on the playbook.

Mathematica 'light' would be a powerful addition to the playbook for students at all levels.
Currently the website is also excellent for students and works well with the pb.

I would have loved to have this when I went to school. I had trouble seeing the blackboard, even sitting infront of the class.

I'm an educational researcher and I recently conducted a study that looked at a school where all the students used iPod touch devices each day. The results showed that there was a substantial gap between what the teachers knew about technology, and what the kids brought in from their experiences away from school. Where I come from (Australia) there are iPad programs being trialled in almost every school. Companies like Blackberry have serious catching up to do in this area, as Apple isn't just getting their devices into schools, they're catering for the specific needs of educators. Recently they announced an exclusive deal with Pearson Publishing, and a couple of other publishers, to have textbooks converted into interactive forms for viewing on iPads in schools. In this way, they now have exclusive access to over 80% of textbooks on the market. How can any company hope to compete with this? Research shows that simply having access to a web-browser or calculator app won't actually change much in the classroom. Blackberry would need to seriously innovate in this space if they wanted to win even the Canadian schools market share, but honestly, they probably have bigger issues to worry about at the moment. If you follow the link at the end of the video, you can see a bunch of other schools that have trialled either playbooks or blackberry phones in classrooms. The playbook is ideal for classrooms, in terms of size and build quality. Unfortunately the glimmer of hope portrayed in the video doesn't mean much when Apple is seriously seriously ahead in this sector. Good luck though. I'd rather hook kids into BB products than iPads any day!

Though IANAL, I am surprised an Apple monopoly on a major textbook supplier is legal; I am pretty sure it would not be in Europe. If Apple have a monopoly on 80% of textbooks for their tablets, that is clearly a serious competition issue, since in the EU the Competition Commission normally steps in if a single vendor has more than 40% of a market.

Yes, RIM should also work with publishers to do the same. Content does matter! Exclusive partnerships like that can really help getting things started.

A friend of mine was on the fence about buying a tablet. He's an Apple fan (we both have iPhones, incidentally), but when he demoed the iPad 2 (and some Android tablets) none of them would work with his school intranet (using BlackBoard Learn, a popular educational wiki/content management software). Both the iPad and Android browsers would not format the pages properly, or not login properly, or show blank pages (where there would be Flash content with the actual video lessons or interactive assignments, etc).

So, I showed him my PlayBook, and the site worked perfectly. He went out and bought one the next day, and doesn't regret it. And using PrintToGo, he prints out his assignments to the PlayBook rather than carrying books... it's great, he loves it.

This is awesome, and as many have said before, it would be a huge step for RIM to take. Even if the consumer market doesn't bite as hard and the corporate world heads towards iPhone, schools could be the next way to stay releavent. Something sturdy like a PlayBook would be much better for schools, compared to an iPad that just looks easy to break... They would absolutely have to get on the text book bandwagon though. I would have killed to have this advantage in school as opposed to carrying all of those books around. And the notebooks that would look like a dog had gotten to them by the end of the year. Paper and pen is the past, we have to get kids on tablets asap.

Dangblastit!! I SO scooped you guys on this last week or so and it got buried in all the vitriol over OS2. If you check the PlayBook forum you'll see. (kicks rocks...) Always a bridesmaid never a bride... Why do I even try ugh lol

I always felt RIM wasn't targeting schools as much as they should. At the affordable price points that Apple can't touch (heh! heh!), RIM can make major inroads into the educational market!!!

Great to see this starting! RIM should be pushing this HAAARRRRRDDD!!! It's a market waiting to explode!

Benefits of the PlayBook to students:

- better than an iPod Touch (bigger screen, more power!)
- much more affordable than an iPad
- highly mobile
- cloud connected
- kids can get interested in writing apps
- kids learn BlackBerry is friendly & cool!
- parents and siblings get to see the kids actively using PlayBooks :)
- more interest in PlayBooks from all levels of educational institutions

Stuff for RIM to do:

- making more inroads into educational market -- high schools, colleges, universities
- more stuff on the BlackBerry site to support educational institutions
- more attention to educational software and software development
- encourage more collaboration tools: yes, Skype!, although Video Chat is improved in 2.0
- need whiteboarding capabilities to exchange ideas and documents!!!
- better integration with Google Docs, Dropbox, -- especially when editing & collaborating!

Give my students Playbooks and TATs conferencing demo app, and you will sell Playbooks to schools everywhere, otherwise it is just another toy. I said RIM should get into schools at launch, and was laughed at. RIM needs to do this big, like a school in every board in Ontario. Netbooks in schools are a hot ticket right now, and that needs to be crushed. Get some educators with ideas on RIMs payroll and make some simple apps, and tap into a market that spends $ on tech all the time, and all over the world. Plus you make mini RIM addicts out of the kids. Billy's mom is going to buy him what he uses at school, not something different.

RIM needs to get more aggressive in general and getting the PlayBook into the schools and universities would certainly help, especially with Apple working with its iUniversity and its recent efforts in getting the iPad into the classroom.

Once the PlayBook is in the classroom, word will spread rapidly and it will gain ground on those toys from other manufacturers.