As curriculum meshes with technology in the classroom, teachers are discovering that tablets can be game-changers.
Students can research without leaving the classroom, teachers can project and manipulate 3-D objects on a screen and a virtual library is available at the swipe of a student’s fingertip. Backpacks are lighter, teachers’ handouts are almost impossible to lose and it’s harder for a dog to eat homework.
St. George’s School fifth-grade teacher Jennifer Smith says Microsoft Surface tablets have been a great addition for her students. “They are flexible and portable. We can take them outside if we need to. We use them for social studies and science. They are great support for what we are already learning.”
At the same time, teachers say iPads and Microsoft Surfaces aren’t the be-all and end-all of technology in the classroom; it takes a digital ecosystem.
With the Nexus 7 receiving good reviews, people are starting to enjoy the portability and immersive experience that small tablets offer over smartphones. Looking at the mobile trends, I can see how the tablet will replace the smartphone. And it may happen sooner than you think.
I’m sure to get the “you’re off your rocker” commentary on this one, but I make a living by looking ahead in the world of mobile technology. And what I see now is a trend that I have watched build for nearly half a dozen years. Thanks to the pace of mobile-network expansion, new audio and video technologies, the expansion of Wi-Fi, and more-capable hardware that runs longer on a single charge, I expect the tablet to begin replacing the smartphone within the next half a dozen years. There, I said it.
Hopefully you’re either done laughing at me or you’ve refrained from the “no way, you idiot!” comment and are still reading. Cool. Now I get a chance to explain my thoughts so we can have a useful conversation on the topic. We can agree to disagree, but there are a few reasons I see this happening.
The whole concept of apps on tablets that teach children handwriting is completely beyond me. Even more so, there are so many of them, I am incredulous. I propose we just ban any further creation of apps that teach children to form letters with their forefinger for the following reasons:
1. Tracing a letter with a forefinger is a poor simulation of actually writing that same letter with a pen.
2. Tablet technology is an amazing tool that should be expanded upon, not reduced as an educational device. If children need to learn to write, use a pencil. If they need to learn a whole host of 21st Century skills, use a tablet.
3. If our children now have access to tablets and other emerging technologies, how relevant is handwriting as a skill in their future? What might we be teaching children in the hours that they have available at school that services them better in the 21st century?
I concede that this is a rant and there may be more value than we realize to practicing handwriting on a touch screen.
Companies have been trying to transform education with computers for decades, with mixed results. But there is new enthusiasm for the possibilities represented by tablets, and Intel has a new entry.
The chip giant on Tuesday is introducing what it calls the studybook, a portable device with a seven-inch touchscreen that is encased in particularly rugged plastic. Like its prior entries in education, Intel designed the device but expects it to be branded, customized and sold by hardware companies to reach students in emerging and industrialized countries.