Image | David Ortez
A few years ago it was conceivable that most children would soon mostly learn with the help of computers, but today it is increasingly clear that tablets are winning positions over the classic PC. These mobile devices are better candidates to supplant textbooks in the classroom as the main learning tools.
Interestingly, schools are mostly committed to tablets because the advantages they present: they easily replace books and notebooks, thus textbook publishers are presenting their first digital versions. The use of tablets is already mainstream in certain higher education environments and also is becoming widespread in elementary schools committed to new technologies.
Despite budget cuts, both families and educational institutions are increasingly investing in technology. In U.S., in the academic year of 2010-11 $19.7 billion dollars were spent on IT. This figure continues to grow year after year. This means schools spending on ICT rose from 55% of the total budget to 60%. This investment led to 27% of primary schools and 35% of high schools using digital textbooks in the classroom. This trends shows why it is normal that 58% of college students prefer digital textbooks.
On the same year 8.5 million netbooks, tablets and PCs were sent to American schools, which represents a 15.3% increase over the previous year. It should be noted that tablet shipments boosted a 103% —, from 19.4% in the previous year to 35.4%, with 3 million tablets received.
In Spain we have seen similar initiatives: in the Valencia region the government has launched a pilot program for the current year where the use of textbooks in tablets for students will be tested in the fifth year of elementary school. The objective is to assess the learning process and its influence in the improvement of the quality of education.
Catalonia has also launched an initiative called mSchools with the collaboration of Mobile World Capital, GSMA and the Catalan government. mSchools encourages students efforts through mobile technologies. It has been designed to reduce dropout rates and to improve the academic performance of student. This initiative pretends to introduce high school students to the creation of mobile solutions.
According to another study conducted at the Colegio Internacional Ausias March de Valencia among elementary school students having used iPads in their schooling, this technology has relived their interest to learn and discover things by themselves, for it is apparently not the same learning from what they explained to you and learning through discovery by your own means. Therefore, the conclusion is clear: tablets help the development of sealf-learning.
Surely tablets will not completely replace textbooks in the short term, but it is very likely they will play a central part in the education of the youngest because not only they bring obvious educational benefits, but their cost is lower than textbooks, and they offer an unrivaled versatility. This is not only happening in the United States, the world leading nation in innovation, but in other economies such as Spain.
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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