Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Tablets and the Classroom

Over the past few years, Ipads and other tablets have been advertised as great educational tools in the classroom.  Their user friendly nature, easy accessibility, and cost seems to make them obvious choices for the classroom environment.  In fact, many local schools purchased iPads for a variety of different grades and have tried to institute a 1 to 1 ratio.  While I love my iPad for home use and find it the perfect tool for surfing the web and chatting online with friends on my leisure time, I do not find it to be a good tool for students in the classroom.  This is why:

1) most tablets do not come with a standard computer size keyboard.  Most keyboards that work with tablets are in fact much smaller and do not lend themselves to proper typing for long term use.  This is a problem even when you can find a keyboard that works mostly well because the bottom line is now you have 2 devices you have to put away in a cart, track, and not break.  Two devices that will need to be replaced.  Oy.   As a result, students loose out on computer skills.  In addition, note taking itself is a burdensome task on a tablet.

2) the touch screen is an amazing feature making it very kid friendly, but on the other hand, since most computers do not have this it impedes a child's ability to learn to use a mouse

3) Many tablet are unable to multitask which is something that is often needed when a child is working on a paper or doing an activity for school.

4) Tablets have very definitive life spans, often much shorter than a computer, such as a macbook.

5) The iPad does not have a standard operating system like Windows on it nor does it operate in any way similar to a desktop or laptop. Students will not become familiar with basic navigation of files that are essential.

It is for these reasons, that I veto purchasing tablets for schools en masse.  It might be that a few could be useful for students to utilize to make videos in older grades or as devices to listen and watch flipped videos, but as a main computation device, they don't fit the bill.  They are simply not laptop replacements.