What is Tablet Computing?

In the past year, advances in tablet computers have captured the imagination of educators around the world. Led by the incredible success of the iPad, which in the fourth quarter of 2011 was selling at the rate of more than 3 million units a month, other similar devices such as the Samsung Galaxy and Sony's Tablet S have also begun to enter this rapidly growing new market. In the process, tablets (a form that is distinct from tablet PCs) have come to be viewed as not just a new category of mobile devices, but indeed a new technology in its own right — one that blends features of laptops, smartphones, and earlier tablet computers with always-connected Internet, and thousands of apps with which to personalize the experience. As these new devices have become more used and understood, it is clear that they are independent and distinct from other mobile devices such as smartphones, e-readers, or tablet PCs. With significantly larger screens and richer gestured-based interfaces than their smartphone predecessors, they are ideal tools for sharing content, videos, images, and presentations because they are easy for anyone to use, visually compelling, and highly portable.

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Please "sign" your contributions by marking with the code of 4 tildes (~) in a row so that we can follow up with you if we need additional information or leads to examples- this produces a signature when the page is updated, like this: - Larry Larry Feb 8, 2012

(1) How might this technology be relevant to the educational sector you know best?

  • Things that make tablets a device of choice - bigger screen than cell phones; lighter weight, more mobile, longer battery than laptop; apps that make it a realistic device for teaching and learning. - jean.tower jean.tower Feb 23, 2012
  • The portabilty of the tablet as well as the general look and feel is immediately appealing to the primary school child particularly the early childhood sector. The longer battery life is a real bonus as this takes care of the problem of the device dying duirng the school day. The devices are intuitive and easy to operate and interact with. The ability to easily capture and use a range of media (e.g. Picture both still and video /Sound - voice / music etc) engages a variety of learning styles empowering them to construct and create meaning using the mode or combination of modes that they are comfortable with. The multiplicity of apps enables personalisation of learning and heightens engagement. However the "flash" issue needs to be addressed. - deirdre.butler deirdre.butler Mar 1, 2012
  • Tablets are taking off in nearly all segments of the K-12 market, because of their simplicity in design and use (eg tethering to wireless networks is usually very easy, downloading apps is also easy). This aspect alone makes it appealing for schools as it focusses the activities back on the learning and not the technology. This along with cloud services should reduce complexity and cost for schools and ensure uptake is more than cursory. However, tablets in their current form have drawbacks. Ergonomically the device is not good for long sessions of keyboarding, storage of data on the device is limited (why you need the cloud) however, these drawbacks can be overcome. The positive side of things is that the tablets are able to capture audio/video and combine text to enable students to create media rich artefacts as Dierdre has described above. I think we'll soon have a 1:many ratio of devices accessible for students which will include smartphones. tablets and laptops. This is a fit for purpose model for digital learning. I think laptops are a dying breed.- garry.putland garry.putland Mar 3, 2012
  • Although there are only a few examples of schools in South Africa introducing tablets into the class room, this is a much spoken about topic. Were parents in the past did not contact schools to ask for their child to be allowed to carry a laptop, parents now want schools to give the OK for tablets to replace heavy bookcases carried by students. In the past, laptops belonged to the private school sector in South Africa, but I predict we might have more schools with tablets in the next 5 years, than we have seen schools in South Africa introducing laptops. Security and risk in carrying a tablet is different to laptops, as tablets are smaller, lighter weight and thus easier to carry without being noticed. Although in a project in South Africa, it was mentioned that the biggest cost for implementing tablets into the school was insurance! - sarietjie.musgrave sarietjie.musgrave Mar 4, 2012
  • School in Brazil have widely adopted the tablets for all reasons mentioned above. The government is planning on buying tablets for public schools as well (http://www1.folha.uol.com.br/saber/1043417-agora-ministerio-da-educacao-promete-tablets-para-professores.shtml)
    . - cristiana.mattos cristiana.mattos Mar 4, 2012
  • Moving assessments onto tablet devices may open the door to quicker feedback for students and teachers as well as richer data, but without proper management of the devices and a strong infrastructure to support them, integrating the devices can be a challenge. - helen.padgett helen.padgett Mar 4, 2012
  • Alberta (Canada) educators who are currently using iPads in the classroom have indicated that their top three reasons for using iPads were to support students with unique learning needs; to meet the needs of every student, every day in keeping with Universal Design for Learning (UDL) principles; and to increase student engagement. These three reasons share a common thread of personalization and reflect a need to shift from industrial/mass models of education to a more customized, relevant orientation to learning.- karen.andrews karen.andrews Mar 7, 2012

(2) What themes are missing from the above description that you think are important?

  • Dutch K 12 school obliges parents to purchase iPads http://www.onderwijsnieuwsdienst.nl/index.php?mod=relink&id=104245 (Dutch)- guus guus Feb 28, 2012
  • Without the keyboard, I think the tablet will have a hard time gaining traction above grade 6. Gesture-based interaction is great for k-5, and has cool applications for art, but until the haptic laptop drops under $200, I don't think tablets will gain widespread one to one adoption in 6-12. - jack.west jack.west Feb 28, 2012
  • A strong administrative tool would be to use a tablet to conduct classroom observations and capture video and audio classroom samples. - helen.padgett helen.padgett Mar 4, 2012
  • Teachers who are using iPads in the classrooms in Alberta, Canada, are saying that student engagement is the #1 benefit. They feel that the joy of learning, the inspiration and sense of possibility fostered by iPads in the classroom has been a significant return on their investment. Where previously introduced technologies, such a laptops, have certainly made a positive difference for student learning especially in whole class instruction settings, iPads by virtue of their intensely personalized design meet individual needs.- karen.andrews karen.andrews Mar 7, 2012

(3) What do you see as the potential impact of this technology on teaching, learning, or creative expression?

  • Tablets have opened the door for many schools without resources to think about the 1:1 model of technology adoption. Students will be able to use all the tools made available to them to increase collaboration, multimedia production, field work and much more. - cristiana.mattos cristiana.mattos Mar 4, 2012
  • The price point for tablets enables more students to have access to their own technology tool. - helen.padgett helen.padgett Mar 4, 2012
  • The use of iPads in the classroom can create an intensely personal experience. In the movement towards inclusive learning environments, the growing need to locate resources that provide a match between students and their learning environments is profound. As more is learned about human learning through disciplines such as brain-based research and complexity theory, it is perhaps time to conceive of learning in all its forms and explore ways for students to show what they know in as many ways as current technologies enable. iPads enable this to happen.- karen.andrews karen.andrews Mar 7, 2012

(4) Do you have or know of a project working in this area?

Please share information about related projects in our Horizon K-12 Project form.