Now, it is the age of the tablet. We have affordable high-powered computers that can provide all sorts of enrichment through an intuitive touch screen interface and the education world is taking notice. More and more classrooms are imagining the curriculum in the context of EACH child having his or her own tablet.
Yet, some educators are still skeptical. How can a piece of technology truly enhance the learning process, without causing distraction?
How cool would it have been to be able to draw, write, and learn directly onto my own computer? As the years went on, people theorized that laptops would take over the classroom, but the price of these devices was too high for a 1 to 1 ratio. It never quite caught on in lower grade schools.
In a subject like art, people might think, “How could a tablet be useful? Isn’t it about organic materials?”
It is, but what about an app that helps with color matching and combination, or tools for interior design where the child can map out their project in concept before getting to work? Of course, there are fantastic drawing apps as well, and students can use a stylus for more precision.
When they are done, they can share in galleries with other students for critique and encouragement.
App developers have continually surprised the public with the complexity of tools they are able to create for tablets. Students can write their own music, record a song with an app like Garage Band or Studio Track, or download music history encyclopedias that provide interactive songs and information about all the greatest classics.
Music theory is fun when you employ the use of Piano Pro or others that allow students to try out an instrument without having to purchase a piano.
3. Video connections
Classrooms are their own little society and for years, teachers have aimed to broaden horizons through pen pal programs and field trips. With video chat as a standard feature on most tablets, students can watch a veterinarian perform surgery or have a Google+ hangout with a class halfway across the world.
It is an affordable way to see the world without having to actually leave the room.
Some of the coolest apps on the market are geared towards science buffs. Your class will come alive when you assign them the job of using Star Walk for iPad, an app that will label stars and constellations in the night sky. Don’t like to dissect a frog?
There’s an app for that.
Everything from the periodic table of elements to brain science, anatomy, plants, glossaries- apps can be the springboard for scientific curiosity.
Public speaking is an important skill for students to learn.
Gone are the days of PowerPoint presentations with little lasers. Now, tablets have fantastic apps that can be used to do real-time drawing, writing, and animation during a presentation. Students can circle, highlight, or write in points as they present their latest research or findings.
When they are done, the presentation is saved and can be emailed to the teacher for grading.
History can be a difficult subject for young children who are notoriously stationed in the present day. However tablets can bring to life ancient civilizations through interactive ebooks, videos, and even games that outline the trials and hardships of the people who’ve gone before us. I remember playing the Oregon Trail as a child and loving the concept. Now the Oregon Trail can be played on a tablet and students can collaborate together to accomplish missions.
Blogs are a great way to get students interested in writing.
The act of putting words on paper can be lonely and tedious, but with real-time responses and comments, it triggers motivation for some children. Rather than writing a book report that will get thrown into the recycling bin at home, have them journal and blog about the book they are reading, inviting feedback from their classmates.
Photography is not only a skill in and of itself; it is also a great way to document projects and research. Almost every tablet on the market comes with a quality camera that can be used to take still pictures or videos. Imagine your students getting excited by the prospect of photo documenting their town, a nature walk, or writing biographies of each student in the class.
For higher-level grades, there are apps that can help teach important photography taking and editing skills.
Read more about 20 out-of-the-box ways to use Instagram in the classroom.
Every project starts with a bit of research. Not only do tablets give students the largest knowledge database at their fingertips, but why not have them write for Wikipedia after finishing a report on Ancient Egypt?
Research that is to be used for the furthering of human knowledge somehow seems more purposeful this way.
Tablets provide an instantaneous connection between parents, students, and teachers. It may be easy to lose a handwritten note or assignment, but as the tablet goes back and forth between home and school, parents can monitor their student’s assignments, teachers can notify parents, and all around connections can be sustained.
Textbooks are expensive. They are also hard on the environment and inefficient. When the information is outdated, an entire new version must be released. E-books solve this problem. Not only can students highlight and bookmark easily, they can even be inspired to create their own e-book!
Tablets may be an investment, but when you add up the cost and time of textbooks, you realize how quickly it pays itself back.
Following on the previous item, tablets are a huge savings for the environment. Paper waste is eliminated, along with the unnecessary time of collating, copying, and printing out documents that are destined for the trash anyway. Imagine the amount of paper saved if a child went through 12 years of schooling using a tablet for all his e-books, papers, projects, and studies?
That is a lot of paper!
Tablets are more efficient. Teachers can pre-list assignments for the day and student’s can see the schedule before even arriving. Communication is fast and instant between the teacher and child as well. There is less time grading, sorting, and filing.
14. Money Management
The world’s current financial crisis highlights a crack in education; we aren’t raising our children to manage money properly. With tablets in the classroom, older students can use stock market apps or budgeting apps to simulate what it would be like to own a business or a run a household.
Younger children can use games that teach them not only how to identify coins and dollars, but how to spend and save too.
15. Social Media
Despite the continued negative association with social media as an addictive time waster, there are lots of benefits to having a mini “facebook” platform for the classroom.
Kids can post homework or writing assignments and get feedback. Students can practice encouraging one another with positive support. The teacher can also monitor the digital “atmosphere” of the room and make sure no bullying or cliques are forming. These classroom platforms help bond students together and provide a safe way to share.
It might be too expensive to test fly a jet or scale Mount Everest, but simulation gameshave been around a long time- used to train surgeons, pilots, and military. For a career unit, why not have each student choose a skill and run a simulation game? At the end of the unit, they can write a report about the advantages and disadvantages.
Games, when used in moderation, can boost creativity and imagination.
17. Computer Skills
The world is run by computers and the more adept students are at navigating them, the better equipped they will be for the real world. Having a tablet in the classroom for each student guarantees that children will have the necessary typing and other skills necessary for future jobs.
In addition to generic computer skills, there are fantastic apps that teach computer coding, computer development, and other IT skills that can benefit them in the long run.
18. Personal Responsibility
Tablets force students to learn about personal responsibility. Losing a tablet is much more pricey than losing a homework assignment or a book. While some may argue that children aren’t capable of handling such an expensive device, as long as schools use the industrial strength covers, students can easily be expected to take care of and keep track of their tablet computer.