When Roman children were being taught to read and write they were given a piece of slate and some chalk as their main educational tools, a practice that still carried on well into the 19th century. Before the release of Apple’s now ubiquitous iPad the technology pundits favorite name for it was the ‘iSlate.’ Sadly, they hadn’t spotted back then what could soon become the iPad’s greatest strength, as an educational tool.

When I first wrote about this, and the fact that the iPad could eventually do away with magazines and newspapers, I was howled down, mainly because of the cost factor. However, in educational terms, the cost savings from using tablet devices could be astronomical, and in more areas than one could imagine.

For many, September marks the beginning of the school year and progress into a higher class. Depending on the level students are reaching and where they go to school, they will almost certainly be allocated a number of textbooks, reference manuals and novels that have to be carted home and, quite often, to and from school. These things can weigh your children down, and as one having a daughter that suffered from scoliosis (spinal curvature), I can assure you that young spines are easily damaged in the process.

Think for one minute about the cost of printing and distributing those millions of text books and the fact that they are out of date almost the moment they come off the presses. No wonder our kids rely on the internet to get the latest information on any subject. Sure, students have been using personal computers and the internet for years and some advanced schools have even demanded that each student acquires a notebook as an integral part of the schooling process, but even carting these to school is a pain.

The agility and flexibility of an iPad-like device, and there will many more tablets appearing in the coming months now that Apple has established a new niche market, make them an ideal tool. The ability to download current texts, access the internet, receive and file homework, track grades, communicate with email, etc., on one light and easy to use device is tantalizing, to say the least.

The educational software market is set to boom and has the potential to surpass games in revenue terms. It is a well established fact that young children grasp early mathematical and language skills much faster when they are part of interactive experience.

That’s all well and good, but how can CSPs and telecommunications market, in general, contribute to and benefit from this potential revolution. Well, apart from providing the obvious internet access and communications systems and backup, enterprising CSPs may offer to subsidize the software, wi-fi infrastructure at the schools or even the devices themselves. After all, it is common for VSPs to subsidize mobile handsets in many markets and they send marketing amounts on marketing when this type of activity actually targets a key market demographic very early.

Perhaps the greatest potential lies in the fact thats this whole educational infrastructure is ideally suited to Cloud Services. Everything from the hosting of applications, distribution, security, filtering and device controls are value-added services that the new age CSPs are looking at addressing. Everybody will love any enterprise that can save them money, save the environment (think of all those trees saved), help kids to stay healthy and improve education methods and standards.