Parents, teachers and schools are beginning to recognize the important role that tablets can play in the classroom. When used correctly, tablets can help students to learn and give them access to software and programs that can speed development. Apple reports numbers as high as seven million iPads in U.S. schools as the trend to place handheld devices in schools gains traction with local school districts.
Studies Show Tablets Work!
Studies indicate that when tablets are introduced into the classroom responsibly, they have the potential to significantly enhance learning. A UK study of schools using tablets and found a wealth of learning benefits, including increases in student motivation, collaboration between students and teachers, and collaboration among students themselves. Another report found that using iPads helps high school students to understand more complicated scientific concepts like time and space. Utilizing technology effectively in the classroom is important if you are going to maximize its benefits.
Not For Children Under 12
Current thinking is that it’s best to avoid using handheld devices in classes where students are under twelve. According to the Huffington Post: “The American Academy of Pediatrics and the Canadian Society of Pediatrics state infants aged 0-2 years should not have any exposure to technology, 3-5 years be restricted to one hour per day, and 6-18 years restricted to 2 hours per day (AAP 2001/13, CPS 2010).”
These recommendations are based on studies that show that screen time for children under two can be very damaging while too much screen time later in life can slow development. However, if the child is older than twelve and screen time is used prudently in schools, tablets can help to motivate and encourage students to learn. Of course in 10 years when technology is even more rooted in our society these recommendations will probably change.
You can’t just tack tablets onto the existing curriculum; you have to evolve your teaching to effectively incorporate handheld devices into your class. If you don’t, it can turn out to be more of a hindrance than a help.
The first step is to ensure that your students are safe. This means both training for the students on what is appropriate and to limit site access. Install security measures that attempts to prevent students from browsing unsanctioned sites and prevent outsiders from accessing your school networks.
Train your teachers. When teachers don’t know how to effectively integrate technology, it becomes a distraction and won’t add to your child’s development. There must be a framework in place, security protocols and structure in order for tablets to be effectively utilized in schools.
When students and teachers are trained and there is a structured approach to technology, older students can definitely benefit from using tablets in the classroom. They learn how to harness technology, and they learn to collaborate, research and explore more effectively. The ‘gamification’ of functions like math and science encourage students to participate and broaden their understanding of complex concepts.
If your school doesn’t use tablets yet, consider getting one for your student to use at home to help with homework. This will entail you doing some research and training so you know how best to implement and control use. Remember to restrict screen time to suit your student’s age.