Those Were The Days
Some of us are old enough to remember that the vast majority of our schooling took place seated at uncomfortable wooden desks with a pencil in hand and a notebook in front of us. At the front of the classroom was blackboard. In front of blackboard stood teacher. Teacher wrote lesson on blackboard. Students copied notes into notebook. “Any questions students?” The response from the classroom was almost always uncomfortable silence, and perhaps a request to head to the nearest wash room.
Information was quickly scribbled down in the notebook, and then (as most information usually is) just as quickly forgotten. A bell rang, the next class begun and the whole process was repeated. Sometimes with a different teacher and a new notebook. But pretty much the same process.
It worked as well as could be expected and most of us emerged unscathed. We turned out fairy employable and ready to take on the world. But times they are changing. And technological advancements have made the classroom a brave new world. iPad and tablet use in classrooms is a part of this new world and their use seems to be on the rise.
Fast Forward to the Classrooms of 2014
In classrooms around the world today, students are often seated at communal tables with an iPad or similar tablet device in front of them. Teachers move amongst the students, and the focus of learning is on the student and their iPad display as opposed to a chalkboard at the front of the room. There are now companies that will offer support and assistance with configuring your classroom tablet learning, such as UK based classroom tablet provider SchoolTechHub. – http://www.schooltechhub.co.uk
Parents, teachers and students are somewhat divided as to the opportunities that these changes have created. However, good, bad or ugly; tablets, iPads and even more advanced technology is destined for our classrooms. Will it help or hinder our children and the way they learn, adapt, and connect with a rapidly changing world?
The Development of Tablet Technology
Apple was one of the first companies to invest significant resources into the development of tablet technology. “Apple Newton” was released in 1993 and other corporations soon began production of similar devices. In 2010 Apple made serious waves when they released the iPad. Web browsing, email, and many other features were available on a light weight, easily portable device. iPads are one of the most popular tablets in use in classrooms today. There has been a lot of media discussion on the subject and this article in the guardian makes interesting reading.
How Soon is too Soon?
In some schools, kids are arriving at their kindergarten classroom armed with tablet devices. Most Doctors and academics discourage the use of iPads and other tablet devices for children before their second birthday. But given the popularity and availability of tablet technology, exposure soon after is inevitable.
By the time children enter primary school, they will almost certainly be using iPads and other tablet devices in the classroom. Possibly, the sooner they are familiar with one of the dominant technologies that is so important in the modern world, the better prepared they are to apply it in their lives and benefit from it.
Applications for Tablets in the Classroom
In the classrooms of today, sometimes each student will work with one tablet. In other situations kids will share tablets. Often tablets are used in conjunction with textbooks and other medium to provide a more complete learning experience. I Pads and other tablets are armed with a wide variety of apps designed to enhance the learning experience.
The use of iPads and tablets in the classroom also helps students evaluate their own performance, as well as that of their peers. Students can make videos of themselves and each other during presentations and speeches. Feedback and peer reaction is instantaneous. Discussions and debate that might ordinarily be put off or forgotten can happen immediately.
Another advantage to using tablet technology in the classroom is the flexibility it gives to teachers and students alike. Lessons and interests can be tailored to each student in the class and teachers can more easily track each student’s progress.
Special needs students and kids with learning disabilities can benefit from the increasing presence of i Pads and other tablets in the classroom. Areas that a student needs extra help with can be identified early and strategies developed to address the situation quickly. Kids that don’t fall behind are far more likely to stick with the program and advance at their own pace. This video makes interesting viewing too - http://vimeo.com/81200928
One Experiments in Ipad Education
Los Angeles was one of the first cities to experiment with providing every student with an ipad. In 2013 the LA Unified School Board spent 30 million dollars to make sure every student had access to tablet technology in in every classroom. Part of the idea is to make sure that children from families of all income levels will have access to one of today’s dominant technologies.
Can We Come to a Conclusion?
Ipads and tablet technology in our classrooms will continue to grow. There will continue to be some debate over how this will effect our kid’s academic performance and how much it will help them build a better future. Like most of the products of human ingenuity, it will likely be what we make of it.