The Future of education – how technology can and has improved learning
With all the current advances in technology and their ever ubiquitous nature, regardless of our feelings towards them one thing is certain; Tablets and Apps will be ever more prevalent in the classroom.
Tablets have one undeniable advantage in the field of keeping kids interested and motivated. They are trendy and vogue, which when combined with availability and usability of the apps makes for an unbeatable combo both in terms of ease of use and willingness to use. The practical side of tablets is also worthy of consideration; imagine the savings in both space and money if cheaper texts can be bought and stored digitally. Incidentally, publishers of academic texts will see a benefit here too, as it undercuts the market in used textbooks if texts can only be purchased direct from the publishers to the devices in question.
On this tangent, schools stand to make incredible savings with the influx of tablet PCs and the associated apps (not to say that cost effectiveness is by any means the most important factor in determining suitability for a classroom environment, but it certainly does play a part!). According to a study taken place in American schools, the United states spend around $7billion- that’s a staggering £4382000000!-on textbooks which will then be continuously out of date. The same study concluded that overall $3billion could be saved via the use of tablets alone, assuming the price drops when bought in bulk, which equates to a saving of $60 per student. That being said, tablets do come with hidden costs and other issues that need factoring in. The strength of the school’s Wi-Fi, for instance. Underestimating the capabilities of a school’s network is likely to be a major issue, but handled well the transition to tablets seems set to be worth these minor issues.
Of course, there are myriad other benefits to the induction of tablet PCs to an educational environment besides the financial. As mentioned above, Apps are interactive and engaging, and it doesn’t take a study to show that an interactive text will be much more effective than a standard text book. Studies, again taking place in the US where tablets are gradually becoming the norm, reveal that format is equally as important as content when it comes to effective learning, and format is where apps have the undeniable advantage. Anything is possible, from the ‘gameification’ of more difficult subjects as touched upon briefly in the last post, to making standard texts easier and more convenient to read.
In traditional lesson plans, the curriculum must advance regardless of student understanding, which leads to a good many students failing to grasp vital facts or understand vital processes. Although extra-curricular support is already available to plug these breaches in understanding, there is a great potential here for Educational Apps to bolster a child’s understand and narrow the gaps between those who understand and those who do not. The format found on tablets keeps students motivated and allows them to pursue education in problem areas independently, encouraging a degree self-sufficiency and taking charge of their education, whilst still having the figure of a teacher to provide support.
Some personal favourites from the Educational App Store that I can see being useful in the classroom are as follows;
-Storybooks is beautifully illustrated and sure to be a favourite with pre-school children. They can read it themselves or have the app read it to them, which is a great aid to reading development and the inclusion of amusing little mini games means it will be picked up again and again.
-Pocket Planets is a 3D map of the solar system with accurately rendered and to-scale models of moons, planets, and many other galactic bodies. As well as classroom use, this will appeal to amateur astronomers and hobbyists outside of the classroom due to its incredible attention to detail and built in encyclopedia.
-Maths GCSE (a subject I personally struggled with at school!) provides revision questions on a multitude of topics covered in the curriculum, provides instant feedback on incorrect answers also generates a bar chart showing results from each session, a surefire motivational tool.