Like it or not, tablets are increasingly common in the classroom. As is common with change, the role of ‘gadgets’ in education sparks a little controversy. Yet schools around the world are swapping the traditional textbook for touchscreen handhelds.
There’s a long list of features in favour of tablets in the classroom, which we’ll come to later, but the most important factor is a simple one – and often overlooked.
A touch of class
The biggest reason for tablets in the classroom has nothing to do with technology or books at all. It’s no secret the key to education is engaging your classroom in a way that feels relevant to your pupils. And a survey by the British Education Suppliers Association (BESA) reveals 82 per cent of teachers acknowledge student interest in classroom tablets.
To teach you must first engage. With tablets firmly in your lesson plan you offer your students the chance to learn in a format they can relate to. Better yet, it’s a format they can interact with – opening up a whole new approach to getting kids involved in lessons.
Beyond the textbook
Of course, a tablet can be a digital textbook. It can be a thousand textbooks; an entire library you can carry in your hand. How many paper books can you go from reading up on Ancient Egypt to the power of rhetorical questions, without even turning a page?
Encyclopedic information is available at a touch and students can highlight unknown words for dictionary results in an instant, in any language. Beyond that, students can connect and save work across a cloud platform so work is never lost, always editable and accessible from anywhere.
Although the biggest asset of tablets is their simplest feature. These are the most dynamic multimedia device we have today:
- Flashcard apps
- Notepads & word processors
- Dictionary & thesaurus
- Internet access
- Educational applications
- Digital textbooks
A tablet puts all these resources and more in the hands of your students. The tools are all there; how you introduce them into your classroom is up to you.
When you’re learning something new, it’s easy to suffer from information overload. Break down the key info into smaller digestible points and present them in a variety of formats. Be creative with the multimedia options tablets have to offer and your pupils will be able to take in more information. Better yet, they’ll be able to distinguish and remember the key points, because they’ve absorbed them in a range of formats.
UK falling behind
It’s well documented that the UK lacks skilled people in the technology sector. Big names like Facebook and Google have publicly said they find it hard to employ people from the UK because they simply don’t have the skills required by the tech big wigs.
Technology is only increasing as an industry and the further UK students fall behind, the less employable they’ll be in this global industry. The fact is we can’t afford not to introduce more technology into the classroom and tablets are the best teaching tools we have at present.