As learning tools, tablets don’t cut it.

Here’s an interesting article by Dr. Gary Stager as published in Scholastic’s Administrator magazine: For the Love of Laptops – As learning tools, tablets don’t cut it.

He sums up the article with this:

Schools are buying tablets with a reckless ferocity. There are pronouncements of how iPads will revolutionize or transform education, without a coherent vision of what that might look like or a single example rooted in practice. The iPad provides an illusion of modernity with no real challenge to the nature of schooling—a win-win proposition unless you’re a child. Add hysterical Web filtering, social media bans, and locked-down devices incapable of installing software, and the tablet becomes a tool of compliance, not empowerment.

Tablets could have all the functionality of a laptop, but they don’t. Until they do, I recommend that schools invest in laptops for student use.

The opposing viewpoint is by Dan Brenner, ‘Day of the Tablet”.

Read both when you get a moment.

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1 Response

  1. Ben Rousch says:

    I would like to point out that many of the things that Dr. Gary Strager complains about “tablets” not being able to do, can be accomplished on Android tablets. The limitations he experiences are mainly on Apple’s iOS devices. The cuprit is the locked down Apple devices and app distribution channel, not the tablet form-factor.

    Using Android, you can create programs for Android on the tablet itself with free apps such as AIDE or TerminalIDE. The programming tools are still not as easy to use as on a laptop, but they are coming around. The best part is that students and educators can contribute to the Android ecosystem for free. Apps are free to develop on any computer (windows, Linux, OSX, or Android) and you can distribute them for free via your own website or on the Play Store for $25. One student or school can create an educational tool, and other schools can use it for free.

    If your Android device is rooted, you can even install a Linux environment on top of Android (Linux on Android) and have access to most of the capabilities of a regular Linux laptop. This includes a full development toolchain and tools used by the majority of open source developers.

    Though they are just coming out, there are some Android and robotics projects like mover-bot.

    On top of being more capable in both software and hardware, Android tablets are less expensive than iPads and come in more varieties. For instance, I just used a $100 ruggedized 5″ Android tablet for kids (Nabi Jr) yesterday. It had a front and rear camera, microphone, SD card slot, speakers, and bluetooth. It came with a custom UI on top of a regular Android install to make it more kid and Mom friendly.

    In his article, Dan Brenner also only mentions the iPad. He mentions that the school is digitizing their own materials then distributing them via a website and email. There’s really no reason these things could not also be done with a less expensive, more capable Android tablet.

    I’m not sure why schools seem to only look at iPads when they consider tablets, but if they would expand their search a bit they could save money and provide students with more capable technology.

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As learning tools, tablets don’t cut it.

by Ron Houtman time to read: 1 min