Being Aware of These Possible Problems Will Help Position Tablet Programs in your Classroom and School for Success.
The use of tablets in today's classrooms has opened a world of possibilities for students and teachers. However, tablets can also present some challenges, especially if you don't do your due diligence and get smart and prepared as you introduce this technology. From abuse by students to accessing inappropriate websites, there are a good number of considerations to be aware of, and a strategy needs to be in place to protect the students as well as the hardware.
What should you watch for in the classroom in order to promote safe, productive use of tablet devices? Here's a number of of things to pay attention to.
1. Social Media Usage – According to BestMastersInEducation.com, 96% of students that have Internet access admit to using social media websites. This includes sites such as YouTube and Facebook. Given a tablet in the classroom with access to the Internet, there is a large chance that the students will use the device to visit these social sites and not the curriculum that is planned. Of course, this can easily be thwarted by using an address filter on your firewall for wireless access, if that makes sense and isn’t too limiting. And don’t underestimate the importance of walking around looking over student’s shoulders.
2. Personal Information through Apps – Mobile technology utilizes a great deal of sharing information for various purposes. While some of these apps are designed conscious of the private information that can be distributed, a great many of them are not. As OnGuardOnline.gov attests for 2013, 59-percent of kids' apps share personal information while only 11-percent of them tell the user it is doing so. In a school environment, it is easy to avoid using personal information on a tablet as they can be generalized instead of person-specific. This means they can be setup without the use of an individual's personal information. Without this information, there isn't really anything to share unless this info is provided during use.
3. Disappearances – The very aspect that makes mobile technology ideal is also one of its major flaws. Sheer size can allow nearly anyone to stick many kinds of smaller tablets in coat pockets or backpacks. Without proper protection for these devices, you may never see them again. Luckily, another aspect that makes mobile devices worthwhile is the ability to track the device's GPS location. Many available apps allow users to find their tablets as long as they are turned on. This increases the chances of retrieving a device that has mysteriously disappeared from school grounds.
4. Malware Incidents – Malware can effect mobile devices, just as is it can effect desktop and laptop computer systems. A study in 2013 by Kasperksy Lab showed that 27-percent of tablet users have experienced a malware incident. As the technology and popularity continue to advance, so may the number of incidences involving this kind of programming. However, there are several current anti-malware applications on the market that can prevent a student from inadvertently infecting the tablet.
5. Personal Mobile Information – Using an individual's own personal account, he or she can connect to their own network of information which could prove dangerous should the tablet become misplaced, stolen or otherwise lost. However, this can be a double-edged sword in a sense. For example, a student using his or her own Google account on an Android tablet could easily retrieve school work completed at home through Google Drive. In order to benefit from personal account access such as this, many organizations have developed methods to protect personal data from being accessed from someone who may have stolen the device. Kaspersky's protection services, for example, will even take screen shots of the person using the device once it has been reported as stolen.
6. Excessive Gaming – As social media can be a cause for concern for wasting time, gaming can be an alarming alternative. Hundreds of thousands of apps are available for free between Android and Apple devices. As long as the student has access to either location for downloading and installing apps, he or she can easily eat away at the available storage capacity with various games. According to geekaphone, as many as 84-percent of tablet owners play games. Without constant vigilance overseeing what your students are doing, many of them will find games to play instead of assigned school work.
7. Damage from Use – Like most things we hand children, there is a risk of damage regardless of how careful they are or how often we explain proper usage techniques. According to Square Trade, Inc., 61-percent of devices that were damaged by children were not covered by a protection plan or insurance policy. As some of these devices can be quite expensive to replace, not having some kind of accident insurance could prove costly down the road. While some suppliers understand the risk children pose on electronics, not all do. You should request some kind of a contingency plan when developing your mobile lab against such an occasion.
The risks that tablets represent in the classroom actually pale in comparison to the possibilities these devices can bring. Most problems have alternative solutions and some may be rolled into one management tool in order to monitor the tablets. By being aware of these issues, you are in a position to be proactive and get the most out of these wonderful devices while limiting exposure for students and your school.
Are you productively using tablets in your classroom? Have you encountered some of these issues, or others that we haven't mentioned here? What have you done about them? What are some of the benefits that have outweighed these risks?
*Image courtesy of Shutterstock.com
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