re: $500 iPads In The Classroom: Good Idea?
Having spent years in IT in a school district, and dealt with all the purchasing authorities, I can tell you that this is not affordable. Schools are already strained past breaking point financially. Most are hopelessly underwater in debt as it is.
Schools will NOT save money on paper vs electronic books. Electronic books already cost more than paper books in most environments. And before you mention public domain books, you need to know most are older tomes of which many are considered to have "racist over/under-tones" that are already frowned upon by many in education and have been increasingly been disappearing off school library shelves. I can only imagine how much easier "book burning" will be when they are primarily kept in only a few online locations in the "cloud". But I digress.
They will push "Interactive learning" that will even drive the costs up further, the schools will need even more local server resources to push out and store this content and/or even more expensive digital pipe to handle it. Not to mention the increased training required for staff.
Unlike books that last for 10, even 20 years, the iPads will break by the dozens every year, not counting those that just "disappear". (we are not allowed to "insinuate" that the precious children steal and sell them, which they do.)
None of the current tablets I have seen are built to withstand the rigors of a real world environment. The current trend of thinner/smaller is less than worthless when they break so easily. Ruggedized models will need to be introduced for this environment, which will drive up costs further? Hard to say if increased cost will outweigh the replacement need of the more fragile variety.