Kno Inc., a young education technology company out of Santa Clara, CA, announced last week that it had secured $46 million in funding to develop a digital textbook table that is poised to take the education world by storm. According to news reports, the product will combine “digital textbooks, course materials, e-mail, and the web into a dual-screen, notebook-shaped device.”
The Kno tablet was presented with little fanfare at The Wall Street Journal’s D: All Things Digital conference in June. Steve Jobs opened the conference and the Apple iPad dominated conversation at the event. However, the recent influx of funding to Kno may be an indication that industry is moving to differentiation.
The Kno is very much an e-textbook. It has two 14.1” touchscreens connected by a hinge and is supported by major textbook publishers. Users can “write” on the screen and save their notes. They can also access HTML and Adobe Flash content. While the iPad is a tablet that has the potential to be used as a textbook, the Kno product is a digital textbook that looks and works something like a tablet.
I’m interested to see how introducing e-textbooks may change teaching and learning. Whiteboards are occasionally criticized for being overpriced blackboards with a “wow” factor. It appears that digital education product companies plan to put powerful mini-whiteboards into every student’s hand.