Tablets are a more effective learning tool than laptops. There, I’ve said it, and I’ll say it again and again and again until someone notices because, at a time where the federal government is being non committal over continued funding for the 1:1 laptop program, we have an opportunity to rethink technology spending.
While generally appreciated, the current lap top program has not been without its problems. The computers are small, limited in their capacity and only just managed to survive the rough world of the school bag. Then there’s the problems caused by the defensive wall of raised screens. Of course, students “close screens” during discussions, however when taking notes, working on tasks and researching, barriers are raised. Leaving aside the surveillance software and revised teaching techniques necessary to ensure students are ‘on task’ (rather that gaming, face booking or random surfing), 1:1 laptops often created a disconnected classroom atmosphere. The students walk in, raise their screen, fix their gaze and plug in to the digital microcosm. Handwriting also suffers. This is a problem because exams responses are written and, by their final year of school, students are expected to produce extended, coherent, critically evaluative essays. Both the thought processes and the mechanical skills required to produce these responses requires practise.
Lots and lots of practise.
Enter the humble tablet, loaded with appropriate apps and accompanied by paper and pen. The tablet sits flat or at a slight angle. Teachers and students maintain the eye contact essential for mutual respect and understanding. Importantly, tablets can hold textbooks. Even better, teachers can design their own textbooks complete with hyperlinks and collaborative activities. Better still, students can design personal learning tools and share them with each other. Tablets are lighter, more portable and, since they alleviate the need for heavy textbooks and folders, potentially reduce the need for cumbersome backpacks. Notes can be taken using a combination of paper and digital form, reading can occur off line and online and students can be taught how to use mobile technology as a functional tool, rather than being a slave to digital connectivity.
Yes, I know laptops can do much of what I have described and yes I realise the inherent problems of security, damage and pressure on networks that tablet computing may cause. Nevertheless, tablets are transforming the way we work. We should be placing tablets in our student’s hands and saying experiment, explore and use this as a tool to enhance your learning.
Welcome to a World of Expression
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