The Digital Classroom: How Tablets In Schools Are Changing Education

settling back into the classroom, ready to hit the books. However, in many classrooms the books that these students will be receiving are now in the form of Ebooks on iPads and other tablet PCs.

In recent years, more and more schools have begun to embrace this new technology trend in order to create a more interactive and engaging classroom. As of 2010, Apple reported that 1.5 million iPads had already been adopted into schools, and that number is expected to increase in the upcoming years.

How Tablets Are Being Used in the Classroom

So how exactly are students using tablets in schools? Neilsen tackled this issue in a recent poll, and found that students over the age of 13 are primarily using tablets for internet searches, email, and reading books. The full results of this survey are available below.

While Nielsen's survey only examined students working in a middle to high school environment, tablets are being utilized successfully at the elementary level as well. In Maine, a study was conducted on kindergarten students testing how iPads affected letter and number identification, story sense, and counting rhythm. The study found that the students in classrooms using tablets showed increased improvement in reaching learning objectives compared to the non-iPad classrooms (Ion, 2012).

Proponents of tablets in school argue that tablets are changing the way that students learn. Early adopters to developing educational applications have already experienced successful trials in the classroom. Students in California’s Riverside Unified School District who used an interactive full-curriculum Algebra app in preparation for standardized testing scored 19% higher in terms of proficiency than students who learned using a standard textbook. The teachers involved in the study were quoted saying that the application motivated students to learn more (Needle, 2012).

Amidst these successful implementations and positive attitudes, there are still those who are hesitant to implement tablets in schools. The most common reservations revolve around the cost of the devices and whether or not the devices serve more as a distraction from, rather than an addition to the classroom.

One consideration that is often overlooked by both sides is the potential spread of germs that these devices bring into the classroom. As students are able to search for new information and become more connected with their peers, the sharing of these devices will increase. Without proper disinfection, viruses and bacteria can linger on the surface of tablets for weeks, and create another vehicle to spread germs between students. It was estimated that the flu alone was responsible for 32 million missed days of school in 2010, and the spread of the influenza virus has increased in recent years. So as schools choose to implement tablets into the classrooms, it is critical that the issue of disinfection of these devices be addressed.

Only time will tell the overall affect that tablets will have on the classroom, but there is no denying that the landscape of the classroom is shifting. As schools are able to justify the cost of implementation and manage the disinfection strategies for these devices, students will find themselves in an infinitely connected, digital classroom.

About the Author

David Engelhardt has over 26 years of experience in software and hardware solutions development in healthcare and manufacturing, with a particular focus on mobile technologies. David is the founder and President of ReadyDock Inc. He is passionate and committed to providing safe, and workflow efficient methods to enable clinicians and patients to enhance care through the use of innovative technologies. In the small window of time when he is not working or spending time with his amazing wife and daughter, he spends his time playing USTA tennis, collecting vinyl records, and shaping music and sound in his recording studio.

References:

Ion, F. (2012, April 18). iPads in the classroom are changing the face of education. Retrieved from http://www.maclife.com/article/features/ipads_classroom_are_changing_face_edu cation

Needle, D. (2012, January 20). iPad app credited with 20% jump in math scores at middle school. Retrieved from http://tabtimes.com/news/education/2012/01/20/ipad-app-credited-20-jump-math-scores-middle-school

Nielsen. (2013, August 27). A computer in every classroom and a tablet in every backpack?. Retrieved from http://www.nielsen.com/us/en/newswire/2013/a-computer-in-every-classroom-and-a-tablet-in-every-backpack.html

Skowronski, J. (2011, September 22). Flu causes 132 million sick days a year. Retrieved from http://www.mainstreet.com/article/family/family-health/flu-causes-132-million-sick-days-year

Image courtesy ofFreeDigitalPhotos.net-Savit Keawtavee

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