Schools are embracing Samsung tablets, Kindles, and other competing tablets.
What originally started out as a novelty item has now become a ubiquitous force to be reckoned with. The Apple iPad, in its multiple models, has become a major player in classroom computing.
Yet just as soon as the iPad revolution started, many followed its lead – resulting in companies designing their own range of tablets to be used in a variety of settings, from workplaces to hospitals and even airports. So what types of these competing tablets are being used in the education?
Schools within the west metro district of Minneapolis are taking advantage of handheld devices and practising a “one-to-one” student-tablet teaching model across all age levels – with regions such as Bloomington, Eden Prairie and Minnetonka benefitting from this revolution.
Just this March saw Bloomington’s Oak Grove Elementary School launch its tablet pilot initiative, with each student in one of two 4th-grade classes using a Samsung touchscreen tablet complete with an attachable keyboard. “It’s going to make learning more exciting for the kids and more informative for teachers,” said Oak Grove Principal Raymond Yu.
Parents are pleased with the program. “I’m thrilled that she has the opportunity to work with these tablets,” said one parent of a 4th-grader. “I think it’s a way for the teacher and the students to get themselves prepared for a future that demands digital proficiency.”
The tablets can be beneficial from a financial standpoint, as well. “You can buy two or three … for the same price as one desktop or laptop and be able to have that mobility to move them around the building,” Yu said. “And you’ll be using the devices more frequently.”
[I would note that these devices are in many ways very personalized, and it takes planning and forethought to use them in a shared way. For example, they are great for sharing access to the Internet, but not for sharing propriety device-specific apps like an email client – KW].
Tablets from Kindle have been making the grade in the classroom as well.
Clearwater High School in Florida and St Rose of Lima School in Texas are among schools that have been testing Kindles with students. “Clearwater High has been using about 2,000 Kindles for more than two years and recently the test was expanded to more than 122 schools in the same district, according to Principal Keith Mastroides.” Mastroides has observed that devices make students more enthusiastic about reading and studying in general.
The College of Westchester in White Plains, NY has been using Kindle Fire tablets in one of its programs and students have been responding well. “They really appreciate having their textbooks on the Kindles, as well being able to use them to access the college's Moodle Learning Management System”, according to CIO Kelly Walsh.
Another tablet that has just just arrived on the schooling scene comes from Rupert Murdoch’s education group Amplify, hoping to make an impression within the US.
With models costing $299 and $349, the Android wi-fi enabled handheld devices features learning programs for both students and teachers, as well as preloaded software such as the Encyclopaedia Britannica.
“News Corp's education unit, along with firms such as Apple and Pearson, is betting on a technology-led educational future and is digitizing traditional textbooks and redesigning them for children who have grown up using multimedia devices”, according to this BBC News article.
Whether or not educators and students choose to embrace this new Amplify tablet remains to be seen. Only time will tell.
Are you using tablets other than the iPad in your classroom? How’s it going? Please comment and share your insights and experience. Thanks!
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