Mobile Learning: Tablets are made for education
I have to admit that I’m shamelessly stealing here. Dirk Küpper, a freelancer in e-training and IT-security, wrote a german post which translates as „iPads belongs to schools“. I think you have already figured where i got my inspiration for this article, right? Dirk Küppers describes in his post his passion and hard work for bringing iPads to german schools. For all my english readers: I can understand if you’re a wondering what’s so hard about establishing iPads in schools. I have to say, it is a lot harder in germany than it may be in some parts of the USA. Lets put it this way: Our politicians and administrators who are responsible for education are neither quite tech savvy nor do they understand the potential of technologies and devices like the iPad.
While I agree with Dirks statement, I would go a bit further: In my opinion tablets are the perfect category for educational work, offering both teachers and students lots of opportunities.
E-Readers and laptops: Good but limited
I can already hear the e-reader enthusiasts arguing that nobody can read properly on an tablet for longer periods. Well, let me tell you a secret: People read a lot on tablets. Reading experience isn’t as good as on an e-reader, I agree on that one, but tablets can be used for so much more than just reading. I’m a huge fan of handwritten notes and firmly believe, that handwriting its one of them most underrated learning and working techniques these days.
If you’re using laptops in class, kids won’t be getting the benefit of handwriting and won’t experience the creative flow, this activity can initiate. If you’re using tablets, it’s an entirely different game. Students can do research and reading on their tablets while handwriting notes or text. You shouldn’t ban laptops altogether but using tablets leaves more space for creativity. And students will have lots more fun using tablets than laptops, that’s something I know from personal experience at some universities.
Tablets don’t have to be expensive
One regularly presented argument are the costs of tablets. If you’re focussing on high-end android tablets or the iPad I agreed, they are quit expensive. But if you broaden your view and look and one of the countless online shops that are selling inexpensive tablet directly from china or taiwan, the picture changes drastically. No, these tablets aren’t as good as the latest iPad or the best android tablets. But they’re all running at least android Ice Cream Sandwich or even Jelly Bean, have a decent resolution display, a good processor and enough storage. In short they are more than good enough for educational needs and will still be fun for students to use.
To summarize my thoughts: I’m absolutely confident that we will see enormous growth of tablet use in education and educational contexts. It is simply the ideal category and form factor for this kind of activity. But one question remains, especially in Germany: Will politicians recognize the potential in the near future? Or do we have to push tablets in education in some kind of grassroots movement formed by teachers and students? I really don’t know, but I fear it is not going to be easy.