There have been a lot of studies over the last few years around whether or not the increased use of tablets and laptops in schools is improving education. These studies involved everything from the One Laptop Per Child program to the current usage rate at colleges around the country. The results, so far, seem to suggest that they can be extremely useful, but only if they are implemented properly.
One of the most notable findings of these studies was that laptops had a large potential for positively affecting attention and learning, but only if they are used as integral tools for course-related work. If they were not tied directly to the course – if they were merely a supplemental tool that helped without being a required element of the program – the students had lower levels of engagement or learning. This seems to suggest that if a school is going to implement new technological solutions for learning, they need to commit and go all the way.
Another study, conducted by the Pearson Foundation, showed that modern students believe that mobile devices will transform learning. Their results showed that tablet ownership among college students and high school seniors has gone up dramatically (in some cases tripling since 2011), and more of them are reading – in fact preferring – digital books. According to the survey, more than half of these students believe that tablets will end up completely replacing textbooks within the next five years.
Of course, technology alone isn’t the cure-all solution for learning. It has to be implemented correctly to make a real difference, especially in high school or middle school situations. College students, for example, may be able to regulate their computer use and stay focused once they’ve seen the consequences of getting distracted on their computers. Younger students, however, have more trouble balancing the entertainment value of the internet and various apps against their academic performance. For these students, parental guidance at home was shown to significantly improve performance.
Tablets or Laptops?
With the emerging laptop market, a new question has come up: is it better to provide students with a convenient, mobile device such as a tablet, or is it more effective to stick with the traditional laptops or move into the latest evolution with the ultrabook laptops. To answer this, it’s important to understand the strengths of each. One is for consuming content; the other is for producing it.
Students need to do both in their academic careers, but schools can’t afford to provide two devices, and neither can most students. Another option, of course, is the ultrabook convertible tablet that combines features of both to provide convenience and a more efficient interface for producing quality work.
Technology is a part of the modern world, so it’s only natural to attempt to use it as a learning tool. However, to get the most out of them, there has to be more to it than just a determination to equip students with newer devices. Teachers need to have more oversight on what their students are doing and how they use their equipment, which requires specific software and training. Young students also need to be taught about online safety while using the internet and social media channels right along with their normal coursework.
How Does It Help?
Rote memorization and book reading are ineffective learning methods for many students, and the implementation of tablets or ultrabooks presents an opportunity for learning through demonstrated applications and real interaction. With the right training and focus on complete integration of the technology, student achievement can be increased in a range of different subjects.
Those of us with children in the North America, Great Britain, or any other 1st world country will purchase new laptops, tablets, or a desktop at least once every 2 years. Millions of those devices that we consider outdated are thrown into landfills when they could go to children in need throughout Africa, Asia, and many other developing areas. To help give every child the education they deserve, please consider donating your used laptops, tablets, and desktops to a great organization. Go here to see how you can donate or recycle your old laptop and help a child have the opportunity to change their lives.
Bruno Galera works for Dell and has a passion for technology. When he’s not reading about the latest industry trends, you can find him cooking, reading, cheering on his favorite football team or at a museum enjoying contemporary art and photography.