re: Why Tablets Will Kill Smart Boards In Classrooms
Keith - as a technology professional that's spent a good deal of time in the classroom as well as working with educators (albeit, a little earlier in the progression - they're middle/high school instructors, not college-level), one of the biggest things that I've seen is that the technology provided in the past was tough to work with because it was "foreign" to the users. Teachers would get smartboards, get about 30 minutes of training (including the "this is how you turn it on") and left to go at it.
Given the consumerization of technology, tablets are accessible to everyone (or at least that's the goal) - so, it's a technology that people are familiar with, and more importantly, instructors are comfortable with. In order to achieve ROI in a classroom enviroment, the technology needs to 1) not impede the learning process and 2) provide access and learning materials in a way that is useful to the student.
When it comes to building infrastructures that handle providing access to tablets - how does that really differ from providing access to PCs? What are the challenges that need to be overcome? At the base level, data is data, packets are packets, no matter if the end device is a supercomputer, a netbook, a tablet or a WiFi enabled phone device. Video distribution and caching devices are available in situations where a network segment can be overloaded with streaming, etc. The key is to really bring the content closer to the end user as opposed to having to continually drag it over the WAN and tax the expensive pipe - X Mbps of WAN vs. X Mbps of LAN still has a pretty good price differential.
I think the big issue that you bring up that needs to be addressed is the proper (i.e. compliant) handling and storage of information/files. Integrating that storage with a classroom or learning managment system (I tend to recall Northeast State, just down the road from your location used Blackboard when I was a student there), but integrating the storage with the student's other information/work and keeping it secure is quite possibly the solution that you're looking for there. Once you move that from an on-premise solution into a cloud solution (especially in the arena of distance learning), things start to get more "interesting".
Something else to consider, and this may put it all in better perspective - students generally don't need heavy duty computing power in their hands to learn (unless they're doing serious computer science, data analysis for the sciences, accounting) - these days, the big thing seems to be content distribution. For a purely technological perspective, the metaphor is that we're going back to the days of the "green screens" where computing power is centralized and the end user just gets a display of the data that they need. Everything old is new again...