Easily accessible, entertaining and inexpensive, tablets are used to play games, browse the internet and get organized. The devices can also have extraordinary value in the classroom, expanding the scope of material presented to students and helping to make topics and subject matter come alive. In fact, having access to tablets increases student productivity and increases access to learning materials, notes "The Journal" in reference to two studies following tablet use and learning habits.
Reduces the Need to Bring Everything to Class
Many students, particularly middle and high school students, come to school with their backpacks bulging with textbooks and necessary supplies. One benefit of tablet computers is that textbooks can be downloaded to the devices, eliminating the need to haul the actual books back and forth. Having the textbooks on the tablet makes it easier for students to complete homework assignments even if they've forgotten their book at school. Many teachers also download class lectures and supplemental materials, such as podcasts, to the tablets, according to "Educational Leadership." With notetaking apps, tablets help students organize their notes so they're easily accessible when it's time to study. These same apps decrease the chance that students will lose or misplace their notes.
Brings Visual Elements Into the Classroom
It's one thing to describe something to students, but it's something else entirely to provide sharp, visual images that children can interact with. For example, teachers can reinforce the study of the human body by showing pictures of what the skeleton, heart and lungs look like using an app that allows them to click on body parts to see them up close. Students might also use their tablets to present a fact-filled visual report about certain animals, the International Society for Technology in Education notes, and students can also interact with some of the visual images they're seeing, which further enhances learning. For example, students might touch a picture and get a list of facts about what they're seeing, or sort items, such as spelling words, by dragging and dropping them into separate columns. Apps such as a graphing calculator or camera can be downloaded to the tablet to further enhance classroom instruction.
Tablets allow students to collaborate inside and outside of the classroom. While regular classroom instruction stops when students leave the classroom, tablets allow them to continue their discussion at a later time. With certain apps, students can share ideas and brainstorming sessions with their peers and get teacher input on their assignments. Other apps allow students and teachers to live chat or text, according to "Educational Leadership." Students are also able to share relevant information they find outside of school. For example, if a student finds an article pertaining to what is being studied in class, he can easily share it with his classmates and teacher using his tablet device.
Schools can reduce paper usage by allowing students to turn assignments in digitally, emailing them to teachers, according to the Scholastic website. Using entertaining and age-appropriate apps can also boost interest and engagement in what's being learned. The devices can also prepare students for the technological world in which they live because they are appropriate for even young children, according to Educational Leadership. Tablets might also help special needs children adapt to the classroom environment, according to the Center on Online Learning and Students with Disabilities. For example, certain apps allow non-verbal children to communicate with teachers by choosing pictures to describe what they want to say. Other functions help students who struggle with fine motor skills.
Sara Ipatenco has taught writing, health and nutrition. She started writing in 2007 and has been published in Teaching Tolerance magazine. Ipatenco holds a bachelor's degree and a master's degree in education, both from the University of Denver.