As tablet computers slowly make their way into the school classrooms, students are learning to discover. While the social studies students in a middle school use their touch screens to read through the articles of the Constitution, another teacher sends video lessons to students as their homework. This allows her to spend more time helping the students in class and explaining the things they did not understand, while encouraging the students to become true inquirers.
Heather Blake, who is a second-grade teacher in Arlington is happy with the technology in class. Blake says that during the snow days this winter, her students were able to continue learning as she sent them their assignments, daily messages with lessons and math activities, as well as exciting experiments kids could do at home to learn more about their snow-stricken environment. Blake noted that the access to technology meant that students had to do less “catch-up” learning than they would have in the past.
School-issued iPads are slowly becoming a growing trend. Teachers note positive changes in classroom behavior while the need for heavy and often cumbersome textbooks is reduced. Technology in the classroom also creates more time for students to learn and play when they are in school.
The idea of one-on-one computing where each student receives a computer for digital learning has begun over a decade ago. Computers have been available for student use in almost every single school, however recently the program became more widespread as the cost for tablet computers begun decreasing. In the U.S., schools are expected to purchase 3.5 million tablets by the end of 2014, this will provide students with access to a wide variety of array of modern educational tools and opportunities. The trend is not just popular in the U.S. schools. It has been reported that worldwide, the spending on tablet computers by schools has increased a dramatic 60 percent just over last year.
Schools are rushing to purchase tablets and computers as a deadline for new online standardized tests looms. The new exams are scheduled to start next year in 45 different states as well as the District. All of these states have signed up to be a part of the new national Common Core learning standards.
Meanwhile many advocates of the educational reform see the increase of classroom technology as an opportunity to rethink the way schools are currently run. The U.S. Education Secretary, Arne Duncan, believes that it is possible to untether schools from a traditional calendar system. Currently children are forced to follow a bell schedule, which tells them where they need to be at all times. This method of learning was created in the agrarian era and students were taught that teachers were the source of all knowledge. Now, students are able to direct their learning and discover new information that the teachers may not be aware of.
Computers have been praised for helping students learn at their own pace and on the already acquired knowledge of the student. This means that students are not learning whatever is taught in their class, but rather work on building upon the previously learned materials. Many experts say that this kind of learning may be helpful to those students who are struggling behind, while at the same time allowing others to speed ahead of their peers.
Although tablet computers and other digital devices are frequently dubbed as distracting and harmful, teaching children the positive ways in which they can use technology is believed to be better in the long run. It is believed that tablet computers in schools can create a positive learning environment for children. Computers have the potential to engage students through the education videos, games and social networks that captivate them during their free time.
By Ivelina Kunina