Session 155: Are tablets making an impact in classrooms & which applications support learning?

iPad-vs-Nexus-7Date: Thursday 13th June, 2013
Host: @NightZooKeeper
Session Title: Are tablets making an impact in classrooms & which applications support learning?

Summary via Nightzookeeper Website.

I hosted a very interesting debate last Thursday evening, which looked into the use of tablets in schools across the country. There was some debate around iPad vs Android and also a huge list of app recommendations that spilled out of the hour long session. I aim to summarise the debate in this blog post, which will hopefully spark some thoughts and ideas to implement in your classrooms.

 @eylanezekiel “Tablets can only be as trans-formative and positive as the pedagogy in which they are a tool”

We were reminded at the beginning of the session that tablets are only as good as the pedagogy that surrounds them. They are a tool to enhance learning and can only be effective with thorough planning in place of high paced, stimulating lessons. Having said that, it is true that tablets are changing the way lessons can be planned and we are hearing more and more about a personalised approach to teaching and learning as digital allows for more freedom for children to take in information at their own speed.

@StuBillington “Thing about iPads is…they just work! Very user friendly and extremely low fault rate”

It certainly appeared throughout the chat that iPads were the tablet of choice. They were given an exceptional review by most teachers that used them. We learnt that students find them very intuitive to use, which aids to the flow of a lesson. There were warnings against buying into one system and restricting students to one digital experience. It is important to expose children to a range of digital experiences from an early age as you would with any subject or tool.

Other tablets and laptops were cited as good alternatives to the iPad including:

@simonwithey – Asus transformer tablets 

@Mrlockyer – Chromebook

@eylanezekiel – Blackberry Playbooks

@danpo_ “Sometimes I feel like a dinosaur reading tonights #ukedchat tweets, then I think, no I love textbooks and exercise books”

Is the textbook on it’s way out? It would certainly appear so based on some of the tweets throughout the session. There was a number of teachers that had moved almost into a paperless system with children spending the majority of their time on the tablets. However, a number of teachers stated their love of textbooks and the maintaining an element of the physical world in an ever increasing digital education system.

@newways2learn “Training is absolutely key & should focus on unlocking the creativity of teachers through the use of tablets”

We also spoke briefly about the training involved during the implementation of tablets. It appeared that most teachers were self taught and that little formal training was taking place in schools in regards of how to use tablets to best support learning. It was also noted that ukedchat and similar online communities provided great support networks for teachers looking to branch out and broaden their use of tablets and edtech in the classroom.

If you would like to learn more from last week’s session you can visit the archive here.

Here are a list of the apps that were mentioned during the hour:

Showbie; Dropbox; Edmodo; Symbaloo; Zondle; Skitch; Google docs; socrative.

Any further thoughts or questions about the session please do contact me on @nightzookeeper.

Thanks to all for contributing and I look forward to next week!

Archive Session 155

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About @ICTmagic 780 Articles
Martin Burrett is the editor of our popular UKEdMagazine, along with curating resources in the ICTMagic section, and free resources for teachers on UKEd.Directory


  1. I teach in a secondary school that has 2 portable iPad labs for student use and allows byod. Thus, tablets are ever present in my classroom. (Many students bring their own.) Brain research supports students doing most of the work to learn (Dr. Sousa, neuro-education scientist). Tablets aid in this process. Students do quick in-class research and share findings instead of always listening to my lectures (although this happens sometimes just to give them a variety of experiences). Tablets save time for class discussion as well. Digital texts, such as the Folger Library books, have search functions for line numbers or pages. This makes finding passages quick and allows the teacher to project text easily. Digital texts save time for class discussions, no more waiting forever for the students to flip between passages. This frees up time for more class discussion. ( Brain research also shows talking aids long term memory.) We are on 47 min periods, 7 periods a day, so time is short! Students also like to type the numerous essays assigned or take notes. If they choose this option, I require them to send me a copy electronically and, for essays, submit a hard copy on the due date as well. Students can pay for copies in the school library. Moreover, students love to take pics of board notes, which frees up even more time to practice skills and pursue class discussions. Tablets have a risk for off task behavior though. Students will go onto other sites other than the one they are supposed to use. I teach English, which involves a plethora of literature. Sometimes students will try to use Sparksnotes instead of the texts. For this reason, I make them mark quotes to use to answer in questions or to use as support in essays instead of paraphrases. If they haven’t read the book, they usually can’t explain or connect the quotes well. I have to be more vigilant on days we use electronics than those few days we don’t. I have to circulate constantly or have them face their desks with student backs to me which allows me to see the front of the devices as they use them (most devices have stands). I don’t allow anything smaller than an iPad with the exception of a Kindle or Nook. I used to allow smart phones because many have the similar capabilities to the bigger tablets; however, I caught too many students texting. All personal devices at school have to be registered to use in the classroom, which also gives them access to our WiFi. Teachers are allowed to suspend a student’s privilege if he or she misuses the tablet. We also can suspend the byod policy for the whole class if students are too often off task on these devices. Students want to use these devices so that is in my favor. Student engagement is still high when using tablets. We only have 18-20 students max in class so small numbers make it easy to monitor. I have had so many ups and downs learning to use tablets effectively- such a learning process for me! Our IT department offers frequent training every year and will tutor one-on-one if requested; this is so important to make digital immigrants like myself comfortable. Overall, using tablets has been positive. It’s the world my students live in anyway, so why not show them another purpose other than social for using them.

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