Why use tablets?
To be successful when using technology in education, it is important to focus on engagement, creativity, inquiry-based learning and differentiated instruction rather than on the technological tools used to amplify the learning which takes place in the classroom. Tablet technology, and other digital learning devices, are proving to be a critical part of the learning process.
The point of using tablet-based technology in the classroom shouldn't be simply to use the digital device, but to provide a tool to aid learning, as this will empower learners to engage in the transformation of learning experiences, which would not be possible without this personalised technology.
As educators we need to teach our children to be creative problem solvers; we want them to be leaders who can analyse a variety of sources for bias while synthesizing information to create a thorough understanding of a problem so that they can engage in dialogues to affect solutions.
To do this we need to educate them and provide them with the right technology to achieve these outcomes.
7 key reasons for using tablets in education
Tablet technology allows for streamlined, visually attractive interaction, used primarily as a platform for audio-visual media including books, periodicals, movies, music, games, and webcontent. The auditory, kinaesthetic and visual aspects of tablets appeal to a variety of different learners and learning styles. Tablet technology personalises learning by giving learners the responsibility and ownership to choose how they learn, when they learn and where they learn; as well as developing their organizational skills.
The vast number of apps available allow all types of learners from different age groups to be creative by expanding the learning experience both inside and outside the classroom, from interactive lessons to study aids to productivity tools. The use of moving making and audio creating apps, for example, provide opportunities for all learners to show their creative nature and skills.
Generally using tablet technology requires minimal maintenance and installation of software as well as booting up much more quickly than other mobile devices. There is usually minimal time wasting in connecting to the network and logging in. Most tablet technology is optimized to ensure ease of use and fast access to its software and apps.
Learners have accessibility to the world 24/7 (subject to internet access). Students don't need to carry a huge number of textbooks,dictionariess, thesauruses, atlases etc. Most tablet technology has accessibility built in: they usually allow a screen reader, support for playback of closed-captioned content and a universal zoom feature which provides magnification of the entire screen of any application. There is sometimes support for wireless Braille display and international Braille tables.
The battery life is relatively long in a tablet device. On average most tablet devices will last at least 7 hours.
Any age and anyone
Tablet devices can be used by anyone, at any age from pre-school through to adult life. These devicess are especially useful for learners who have learning difficulties. Tablets, with multi-touch gesturing, are easy to use and can improve the progress of learning for everyone, regardless of ability, and this makes it a powerful tool.
There are many discussions about the "Hawthorne Effect" with the use of tablet technology and being a new technological tool for learning in the classroom, this may be true.
However, anyone who has been in a class of learners who have access to tablet devices will see that the response from the learners is one of engagement, wonderment, learning and of progress. While it is fair to say that this may be short-lived the more use to these technologies that children become, the next level of device will then be available to bring back the engagement and wonderment.
There are many other factors to consider: the one of cost and budgetary requirements comes to mind. Also, as previously stated, the adoption of technology will only be successful if the associated pedagogy relates to the correct use of mobile devices in the classroom and associated learning philosophy.