Greater engagement, more collaboration, acquiring IT skills… Experiments by teachers highlight the advantages of tablets for students.

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The teaching benefits of using tablets

Studies on the use of tablets in an education environment, such as one conducted at secondary schools in Quebec and French-speaking Belgium, show they can yield a number of benefits for students in terms of improving:

  • Motivation
  • Publishing, sharing and searching for information
  • Collaboration
  • Developing IT skills
  • Creating a more individual approach to learning
  • Flexibility in terms of space and time
  • Creativity.

Teachers, on the other hand, can also benefit from the technology:

  • Classroom management and organisation
  • Changing the role of the teacher
  • Student evaluation
  • IT skills
  • Visual quality of teaching material
  • Finding a unique teaching approach.

The Belgian-Canadian report also brought to light certain potential difficulties, in terms of getting the students to focus, the cost of the equipment, and the need for staff training.

Similar observations have been made in France: a representative of the DGESCO (Board of Education), Michèle Monteil pointed out that: “The advantages of tablets are indisputable. Quick to implement, light, easy to use, mobile... It will radically change teaching organisation and will have a positive impact on learning in a number of disciplines. It offers a different approach to knowledge and access to a wealth of resources.”

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Tried & tested: positive feedback

The findings of numerous experiments with tablets in schools have provided valuable data on the benefits of implementing such technology.  For example, a report by the French Ministry of Education on an experiment conducted in a secondary school whereby year-8 children used tablets to write up their experiment reports for science class highlighted the following advantages:

  • A simple, digital tool that is immediately operational and has a range of functionalities (camera, video camera, word processing, document viewing, internet connection).
  • Faster drafting of reports
  • A new incentive for learning scientific skills.

The class’ teacher concluded: “Using tablets is extremely advantages for field trips (geology for example). They can be used to take photos which can then be used in class to do drawings.”

Another teacher used the digital book creation application BookCreator available from AppStore and found it useful for evaluating the language skills of a class of nursery school children. Starting with a photo album, the children then made up a story, recorded it and listened to it in class and commented on their work. For the teacher, this verbal record is valuable for assessing each child’s verbal skills and monitoring progress throughout the year.

“Steve Jobs schools” in the Netherlands

"What we are doing will seem pretty normal in 2020," says Gertjan Kleinpaste, head of an elementary school in Breda, near Rotterdam, one of the Netherlands’ eleven “Steve Jobs” schools. The school is open non-stop from 7:30 a.m. to 6:30 on every workday. The children will come and go as they please, as long as they are present during the core period between 10:30 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. Another novelty: teachers oversee classwork but rarely actually direct them: students learn the basics, at their own pace, from their iPads and interactive learning apps. Every 6 weeks there are meetings between teachers, students and parents, either at the school or via Skype, during which the learning objectives for the following weeks are set.

Radical reform: Dutch iPad schools seek to transform education (Article Spiegel Online)

Touch tablets used in education: figures

  • Thailand: 13 million (UNESCO 2013)
  • USA: 8 million (TechCrunch, 2013)
  • Quebec: 25,000 (Cefrio 2013)
  • France: 15,000 (Ludomag, 2013)
  • Belgium: 2,000 (Le Soir, 2013)