There is no doubt that teaching our children to operate in a digital world is a good thing. Education that utilizes digital devices is a great way to acclimate children to their future lives, cultures, careers and workplaces. Suddenly, the tablet has become all the rage in education. By packing a student’s entire curriculum within its hardware, or allowing her to access it from the cloud – remote servers – it threatens to make the schoolbag obsolete. Tablets are easy to master and easier to learn on – has been imbibed, and is now being imparted through schools.
Many companies have woken up to the opportunity and evolved different business models to grab a slice of the pie. One model has seen tablet makers tie up with content providers. Boston-based AcrossWorld Education, a content provider, has tied up with Delhi-based Go-Tech to launch a tablet called ATab in India. The two companies have been trying to persuade schools to adopt the device, priced at Rs 5,000.
News Corp. partnerd with AT&T Inc. to provide tablet-based learning and assessment products for kindergarten through grade 12.
AT&T will provide tablet computers that work on its 4G network and Wi-Fi network. None of the schools selected to participate will have to pay for the program. The company did not say which schools would take part or how they’d be selected.
The idea is to put tablet computers into the hands of students for use at school and at home. The system tracks their progress and is meant to tailor lessons to each student’s level.
According to market reports, the country saw sales of about 475,000 units of media tablets in 2013. Report from research firm Frost & Sullivan says that overall TabletPC user base is likely to grow at a CAGR of 107 per cent to reach 23.38 million by 2017.
Tablet is usually a 7 to 10 inches form factor and it works on different mobile operating Systems like iOs, Android, and Microsoft Windows. It is now well accepted as platform for interactive and personalised learning.
The teacher can easily explain concepts using the digital whiteboard that is set up in the Tablet PC. Using learning tablets the students can access what was taught in the classroom and can also access the collaborative learning platform for discussions on relevant topics taught in the classroom. Students can have the benefits of studying from the best faculties from across the globe.
But is India ready for this revolution?
Tablets still have not reached villages. We need broadband connectivity in rural India and better power supply in villages for that to happen. If illiterate kids with no previous exposure to written words can learn how to read all by themselves, by experimenting with the tablet and its pre-loaded alphabet-training games, e-books, movies, cartoons, paintings, and other programs. The power of its use and coverage cannot be underestimated. With lack of quality teaching staff across the urban and rural areas of the country, it can serve as a good means of imparting standardized education.
In an study, One Laptop per Child found that, kids in Ethiyopian villages are still heavily engaged in using and recharging the machines, and had been observed reciting the “alphabet song,” and even spelling words.
While there are no studies to determine the actual benefits of using tablets in education, these will be multifarious. Parents can monitor the academic progress of their children more accurately with easy access to assignments, difficult lessons covered at school, as well as archived assessments and tests.
Technology, however, can be misused by students. There is a need for both parents and teachers to monitor the content coverage and usage of the device. To ensure tablets are used effectively and for education purpose alone, school authorities should not let the students download malware and other illegal content on the devices.