There is a lot of debate lately amongst educators as to the place technology should have in the classroom, and the extent to which it should (or shouldn’t) be used. Tablets – the newest offering of extremely portable PCs – have made it possible to do some heavy computer from virtually anywhere, and seem an obvious choice for classroom use . . . but what are the implications of bringing this technology to the classroom? Here are some things to consider:
Instructor use. Teachers may find tablets to be extremely convenient for a variety of purposes. Most tablets lack keyboards, and use either stylus or touch-pad technology. Teachers who use tablets to broadcast presentations onto a projector screen have the benefit of interacting with the presentation by way of the stylus, making it easy to circle, cross out, and mark up presentation items with just a few strokes of the hand. Additionally, tablets easily switch between landscape and portrait display mode, depending on how you hold the tablet. This makes it even easier for teachers to customize presentations as they go.
EReading capabilities. Hands-down, tablets offer students a much broader experience than traditional textbooks. When students use tablets to access textbooks in eBook format, they benefit from being able to learn about a subject a variety of different ways, by way of multimedia: text, images and videos. A textbook just can’t do that.
Resource materials. When tablets are used in the classroom, it will no longer be necessary to take trips to the school library in order to check out reference materials; an entire world of references will be available right at students’ fingertips.
Student compatibility. Although tablets are relatively new to the technology market, most older students have been using smart phones for years, and are already completely acclimated to tablet technology. Therefore, students are already prepared for the advent of tablet usage in the classroom. It’s really the classroom that will need to catch up.
Distractability. Tablets may be distracting in the classroom, as students can use them to access the Internet at any time. Also, teachers may have a hard time controlling the information that is being streamed into the classroom through the Internet via student-operated tablets, whether a child accidentally ends up looking at eagle ford shale news or something less desirable.
Cloud-based computing. The ability of tablets to easily integrate with cloud storage systems makes tablets a great option for both students and teachers. Teachers can send assignments, grades, and instructions to cloud storage, and students can access that information from anywhere, anytime, using their tablets.
Accessibility. One drawback to the issue of tablets in the classroom is that not every student will be able to afford a tablet. Until this issue is resolved and tablets are made available to all students, it will be difficult to fully integrate tablets into the classroom setting.
There are many benefits to bringing tablet technology to school, but there are also some limitations that cannot be ignored. It seems safe to say that tablets could improve the classroom experience, but only if those wrinkles were ironed out.
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