Pic | GeekWire
Over the past few years experts have been debating about the role of technology in the classroom. Should children learn how to code? Is a smartphone a good companion? If it was useful in Kenya, why shouldn’t it be in the rest of the world?
However, there is one type of device which was welcomed with a comparatively broad consensus: Tablet computers. They make textbooks go digital while adding interactivity, and they make teaching and learning easier.
Why are tablet computers making a difference?
The Journal quotes various recent studies to answer this question. They claim that tablets (running Android in this case) “allow students to develop digital citizenship skills within a safe and secure learning environment.” And that is not all, the sophisticated use of these devices “exceeded expectations and created new learning environments for students.” In addition to that, “teachers increased communications with the students”. Definitely, a big step forward.
And this is nothing new. In fact, the video above belongs to a non-profit project called Tablets for Schools, which investigates and works on the development of new learning models with these kinds of computers. Many schools are already successfully adopting these innovative methods all over the world, which is why you can expect the penetration in this sector to increase, even though there is some criticism as well.
Apps for teaching
You do not get far with hardware alone. Applications are essential in the process and, of course, some were designed especially for teachers and others of more general use can turn out very valuable when used in an educational environment.
For example, organizing a class is easier with apps like Teacher Kit or the Spanish iDoceo. Both are tools that allow teachers manage their tasks, as well as rate or propose exercises. They are free, but nonetheless provide satisfying results and are easy to use even for less technophile teachers. In that same line (but available exclusively on Android) we also found Grade Book for Professors. The advantage of this app is the fact that it syncs with Google Drive; its disadvantage is its less attractive environment.
A different approach is proposed by Edmodo, which is more than just an app. This is a classroom management service with multiple features like a calendar, grading or homework assignments, all integrated in a kind of social network resembling Facebook. An original way to promote participation and dialogue.
But organization and classroom management is not everything. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so there can hardly be a better way to explain something than an interactive presentation from Educreations Interactive Whiteboard. A digital whiteboard simulator with a lot of options. The best about it? We can record our lectures and download those of other teachers from its website. It is available for iOS and with any web-browser.
Last but not least a reminder that we should not limit ourselves to specialized software, because at the end of the day it all depends on how you use an application. Tools collections like Google for Education or Evernote for Schools show us how learning can be supported by services which we initially got to know in a professional environment. After all, even with the best devices and programs, what we will always need the most is a good teacher with great ideas.
The mSchools programme is a multi-year, multi-faceted mEducation initiative by the Mobile World Capital Barcelona. The mSchools programme is designed to lower dropout rates, improve student attainment in schools across Catalonia and throughout Spain and, ultimately, to better prepare students as they pursue further education and employment in today’s digital world.
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