Session 174: How have you seen tablets affect levels of engagement & learning in your classroom?

Thursday 24th October 2013

Date: Thursday 24th October 2013

Host: Matt Smith @mattsmith566

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Session Summary

With the focus on engagement, it was encouraging to see how many different avenues of discussion the initial question prompted. At times the debate was both positive and negative but essentially focused on when, and more importantly how, tablets should be used to maximise their effect on learning.

The emphasis on pedagogy was astounding and shows just how much practitioners have thought about the effective use of tablets in their classrooms. One aspect that struck me early on was exactly which tablet the discussion was aimed at. iPads seem to be the overwhelming favourite in terms of accessibility and overall quality; enabling teachers to provide high quality learning opportunities. From personal experience, I can certainly promote this as a device which provides a variety of collaborative and independent learning opportunities, and ensures children can drive and control their own education.

Personalised learning was hot on the agenda, with some concerns raised at the opportunities tablets could give both teachers and learners to be ‘lazy’ and collaborate in ‘non traditional’ ways; fears that the art of conversation and class collaboration could be lost. This however was countered with conversation steering to how, as times are changing, there is a need to evolve the way in which we teach and learn to ensure we are relevant to the students for who we are responsible. This includes introducing new ways in which communication and collaboration can be enhanced, again with the aim to improve learning opportunities for our pupils.

Many questions were thrown out into the fray, asking for thoughts on apps, advice and troubleshooting to name but a few. It has to be said, the overwhelming response was of a positive nature and tablets are clearly high on the agenda for many institutions, whether they are at the beginning of their journey or already using them to boost engagement and develop skills. Each conversation kept coming back to the same points:

How will it impact progress? What are the advantages/disadvantages?

In one respect, both of these questions are still unanswered as it is so difficult to obtain a comprehensive research base to extract hard core evidence as to how progress can be attributed to this variable alone. However, you only have to read the archive to see the positive effect tablets are having in classes around the country across a multitude of settings. Surely this is evidence enough?

Either way, and whatever your opinion, the discussion was packed full of tweets all pointing towards the same viewpoint. Use of tablets has to be carefully thought through, with the learning objective at the forefront of any potential decisions. The device is merely a vehicle through which effective learning can be delivered, alongside I might add, traditional teaching methods. The real skill is in knowing how to use tablets seamlessly, whilst developing pedagogy that allows the many features of tablets to enthuse and engage our learners. Without this forethought, the consensus was that any tablet will act as a fancy toy rather than a valuable learning tool. It brought me back to a phrase often used in sport……’prior planning prevents poor performance.’ The device, in many respects, is secondary to effective pedagogy and learning opportunities.

The overwhelming message from everyone involved in the discussion was that the key to success lies in the blend.

Notable Tweets
In the previous century, the best tool for the job was a pencil and a book. Now it’s an internet enabled device. Progress! #ukedchat

iPads have the potential to redefine learning experiences, but need to be used effectively, not as substitute to old tech #ukedchat

yes and so many apps enable personalized learning #ukedchat

easy for my to screen shot and annotate for evidence of learning too #ukedchat

Literacy, opens up a brave new world of manipulation and analysis of text. Sharing community is incredible resource #ukedchat

#ukedchat why not ask the students for evidence of the impact of tablets on their progress?

iPad apps fab but we r using iPads gain independence uploading own stuff 2online platform too #ukedchat

as always it depends on how it is used. Therein lies the skill of the teacher. #ukedchat

tablets + other devices do provide the opp for students develop their own lines of enquiry to deepen understanding #ukedchat

Learning redefined.Tablets allow a combo of edmodo, padlet, nearpod and educreations to link, share, create and measure learning #ukedchat

It’s about using technology when it’s appropriate not overuse. #ukedchat

the indepedence it can give lower ability readers to look up and check words they don’t understand is invigorating #ukedchat
View conversation

Tablets are a great resource, but use for the sake of using, or overusing is entertainment over education. Just another resource #ukedchat

Tweet of the week
In the previous century, the best tool for the job was a pencil and a book. Now it’s an internet enabled device. Progress! #ukedchat

About Your Host
Matt Smith is a Primary school teacher and ICT Co-ordinator in Bristol. He is passionate about ICT and the enhanced learning opportunities they can provide in the classroom. Having had the opportunity to trial 1 to 1 iPads in his class, the scheme has now spread to four classes across the school and is constantly evolving. As a result, Matt has a vast amount of experience using iPads across the curriculum and is keen to promote their use as a learning tool through his blog ( and through twitter – @mattsmith566.

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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

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