Over the last couple of years schools have been buying or considering buying tablets. How tablets are used in school, may not be the same way that a tablet is used at home. So if a school is buying tablets what questions should it ask itself?
The key question has to be why are we considering tablets? The immediate follow on question must be If we bought some what would we do with them? Being able to answer ‘why’ should really help answer ‘what’.
Different schools have answered the ‘why’ question in different ways, for example:
- To experiment with new ways of learning and teaching
- To increase access to ICT
- To bring ICT more into the classroom (often to complement and ICT Suite or laptops)
- To use in assessment (especially in EYFS)
- To access particular tools or apps
School decisions can also be influenced by partner schools or neighbouring schools. eg Someone else has had a particular success and has become an advocate.
Answering ‘why’ makes answering ‘what would we do with tablets’ much easier. I would strongly encourage anyone considering tablets to do two things:
- Visit other schools who are using Tablets. How are they using them? What have their successes been? How could they improve their use? What challenges have they faced? With answers to these types of questions consider how they apply to you and your school / setting.
- Carefully consider ‘which’? There is no right answer to this question but the choice potentially be bewildering.
- iPad, Android or Windows?
- Devices aimed at the consumer market or devices aimed at education?
- What size? 7”, 8”, 9” or 10” or potentially bigger or smaller than those!
- Which apps or tools are needed and are those available on all devices?
Answering ‘which’ becomes significantly easier if a school has a clear vision of ‘why’ and ‘what‘ for.
Having spent time considering ‘why’, ‘what’ and ‘which’, schools need to consider ‘how’. How will they manage these devices in school? Schools buying more than a handful of devices need to give this careful consideration:
- How will the devices be securely stored when not in use?
- How will they be protected when they are in use?
- How will they be charged?
- How will apps or work be copied on to the devices? (Apple, Android and Windows approach this in different ways)
- How can work be copied off the device?
- How can the data on the device be secured – particularly in relation to the data protection act.
- How can the devices be restricted or locked down (if that’s a requirement)?
And finally but most importantly
- Will our wireless network cope?
Tablets offer some great opportunities for schools. Tablets are portable, instantly on or off and provide quick access to the internet. These features can make tablets work well in the classroom and complement laptops and desktops well.
Andrew Bush – Andy is a developer of Electronic learning resources for TTS and an experienced Senior Consultant for eLearning and ICT. With 10 years teaching experience and 14 years in an Advisory role, Andy really is at the heart of delivering educational technology across the Key Stages. He is up to date with developments in Ed tech, and offers a creative flair to applying learning and teaching within ICT and Computing skills.