Touch­ing the fu­ture

Tablets cre­ate new ways to ed­u­cate, writes Rod Ch­ester

Herald Sun - Switched On - - Gadgets -

SCHOOL tech­nol­ogy is no longer lim­ited to com­mu­nal com­puter labs and a lap­top lugged in ev­ery back­pack.

Just as tablets, iPods and other hand­held de­vices are chang­ing the way we do things at work and play, they’re chang­ing the way stu­dents learn . . . and not al­ways in the man­ner mak­ers in­tended.

A year ago Ap­ple amped up its iPad push into the ed­u­ca­tion mar­ket with the launch of iBooks 2. Ap­ple’s world­wide mar­ket­ing vice-pres­i­dent Phil Schiller de­scribed ed­u­ca­tion as ‘‘ deep in our DNA’’.

Schiller’s pitch was for iPads to be­come a re­place­ment for text­books. But while iPads are re­plac­ing some books, the tech­nol­ogy is also branch­ing off in other di­rec­tions, with tablets seen as cre­ative tools by educators rather than some­thing pas­sive.

A re­cent look at 18 dif­fer­ent stud­ies into the use of tablets in ed­u­ca­tion found the use of iPads could in­crease stu­dents’ test scores, im­prove en­gage­ment and in­crease stu­dents’ abil­ity to work in­de­pen­dently.

The tablet rev­o­lu­tion in ed­u­ca­tion is not lim­ited to schools. The Univer­sity of West­ern Syd­ney this year is pro­vid­ing 11,000 iPads to stu­dents and staff..

Jonathan Nalder is the Queens­land-based co-founder of Slide2Learn, a na­tional mo­bile learn­ing sup­port

We­mainly use them as a cre­ative tool

group for educators.

Nalder says much of the fo­cus now is on tablets but teach­ers had been dis­cov­er­ing cre­ative ways to use ear­lier hand­held de­vices.

Nalder lists four fac­tors that de­fine the im­pact hand­held touch­screen de­vices have in the class­room: porta­bil­ity, sim­plic­ity, per­son­al­i­sa­tion and con­nec­tiv­ity.

Nalder says the first step for many educators is to think of the de­vices as sub­sti­tutes but, with ex­pe­ri­ence, educators are work­ing their way up the steps of ‘‘ aug­ment­ing’’ (for in­stance, high­light­ing text on a tablet and link­ing it to in­for­ma­tion), ‘‘ mod­i­fi­ca­tion’’ (shar­ing those notes and col­lab­o­rat­ing) and reach­ing the top level of ‘‘ re­def­i­ni­tion’’ (cre­at­ing your own con­tent).

‘‘ All of those dif­fer­ent uses are hap­pen­ing in schools,’’ he says. ‘‘ It’s been such a short FIVE APPS TO BOOST A CHILD’S CRE­ATIV­ITY Ex­plain Ev­ery­thing: A tool that lets you an­no­tate and an­i­mate the ex­pla­na­tions of what you’re do­ing on an iPad. Per­fect for pre­sen­ta­tions. GarageBand: Turns your iPad into a record­ing stu­dio, with pi­anos, or­gans, gui­tars, drums and basses. time frame. Maybe in an­other two-and-a-half years peo­ple will have been able to think through it a bit more to move into the higher-or­der kind of uses.’’

While teach­ers are em­brac­ing touch­screen de­vices in learn­ing, they still see a need for other tech­nol­ogy to be in the class­room.

Jenny Ashby, act­ing prin­ci­pal at Ep­som Pri­mary School in Vic­to­ria and Slide2Learn mem­ber, says stu­dents in her school have a choice, with each hav­ing ac­cess to a desk­top, a lap­top, an iPad, an iPod Touch and a netbook.

The Ep­som stu­dents have been us­ing iPads for two years, and iPod Touches be­fore that.

‘‘ We don’t use them as a re­place­ment for text­books at all be­cause we don’t use text­books in pri­mary schools,’’ Ashby says. ‘‘ We mainly use them as a cre­ative tool for kids. There’s a mul­ti­tude of apps that makes it really easy to share what they’ve been learn­ing about.’’ iMovie: A great one for kids, whether they’re turn­ing their video footage into a movie or movie trailer. Book Cre­ator: If mak­ing a movie isn’t your cup of tea, with this sim­ple app you can make your own book. Epic Ci­tadel: De­signed as a fan­tasy set­ting for a game, you can nav­i­gate this fan­tasy town and make your own story to go with it. Tech-savvy: Stu­dents play with an iPad in the class­room

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