A recent article in the Economist has described the way in which Tablets are increasingly being used in education. Reflecting Tablets for Schools research, the article suggests that Tablets offer students a personalised way of learning, allowing children to progress at their own pace. This independent approach to learning enables teachers to spend more time on coaching individual pupils for writing a case study and less time on routine tasks such as marking. Many of the apps used in the Tablet schools cited in the article give teachers feedback on how each pupil is progressing. An example of such software is InfoMentor, which is currently used in nearly all Icelandic and a fifth of Swedish primary schools. It is also argued that introducing Tablets to schools may have cost benefits. Research from the US has shown that spending on education has doubled in the last four decades, with much of the extra money being spent on textbooks and updating computer hardware. The article suggests that one-to-one mobile devices may be more cost effective for schools.

Apple’s New Operating System Offers Additional Benefits to Schools

Fraser Speirs, Head of Computing and IT at Cedars Schools of Excellence, one of our T4S research school, has written an article about why he thinks Apple’s new operating system iOS 8 will offer additional benefits to schools using iPads. Speirs discusses how iOS 8 apps will be able to communicate with each other more effectively and how the new storage system iCloud Drive may effect educational use. He also gives an overview of some of the improvements made to Mobile Device Managements (MDM) and to web-filtering.

Students’ Use of Social Networks After Exams

A student blogger has written an article encouraging other students not to use Twitter immediately after exams. Sarah Chitson explains that after an English GCSE exam she logged onto Twitter and found that other students in her class were discussing their answers online and how she immediately started worrying about whether her own answers were correct. She describes the way in which she and many of her classmates became increasingly anxious by these discussions and suggests ‘that our reactions were undoubtedly a warning signal to the excess stress that using social media can cause in an already nerve-racking time of year’.

Tablets Used as a Key Learning Tool in Special Education

As in the US, Tablets are being used successfully in special needs education in the US, for example for children on the autistic spectrum. In many cases Tablets have replaced much more expensive and in some cases less intuitive communication technologies. For schools that could not previously afford specialised communication technology, which often cost between $6,000-$10,000, Tablets have allowed teachers to use technology in their teaching for the first time. Special needs teachers have argued that Tablets make it far easier to personalise learning to each child’s needs and track their progress. It is suggested that unlike earlier technologies for children with special educational needs, mobile devices such as Tablets do not set these children apart from other pupils in the school.