Government advisor Tom Bennett was recently on Good Morning Britain, discussing with the hosts the issue of school students and gadgets – 20% of whom will have over £400 worth. Bennett seemed resolutely opposed to the “creep” of technology into schools, and as an education technology provider, we’re here to fight the corner of the tablet and the laptop in the classroom.
Before we start, I do want to note that Mr Bennett isn’t entirely opposed to the idea of having tablets in classroom (and indeed his ire is focussed far more on mobile phones), and happily says that an iPad could be there if teachers have “strong reasons to use them” – additionally he’s willing to be proven wrong if in five years’ time everything turns out well. However, we rather think that Bennett’s definition of “strong reasons” might differ somewhat from ours!
As an advisor on bad behaviour, Bennett’s key objections with mobile devices seem to be how open they are to abuse, and I’ll concede this is a fair point, especially with mobile phones. Their smaller screens and boosted connectivity (with mobile broadband allowing kids around school filters) provide a less-than-ideal working environment. A tablet, however, can mitigate many of these problems, especially if provided by the school and connected to the school’s managed Wi-Fi. Distraction will always be a problem, but to assume kids will automatically get distracted just because they “can” is to do a disservice to their intelligence. If a child wants to learn, they’ll learn – why not give them the best interactive learning environments possible?
I’m particularly confused as to Bennett’s problems with a viewer whose school has gone paperless, and whose homework is now set via an app. Would he rather teachers instead deal with illegible handwriting, endless paper and cramped hands from manual marking? Setting homework and assignments online can save everyone – teachers, students and parents – time and effort – indeed according to ITV, 33% of respondents are now doing just that. Teachers can even plan out a term’s worth of work ahead of time, to be automatically assigned and even, in some cases, graded. Perhaps this can’t be the case for longer, essay-based work, but why mark a worksheet manually when you can have a VLE mark 30 of them automatically, instantly?
The problems, though, come when this tech is miss-used. We’ve got customers around the country (and indeed the world) happily tapping away on iPads and laptops, utilising their VLEs without the problems Bennett seems to think all gadgets bring. As ever, it’s important to note that none of these schools have got rid of textbooks or face-to-face learning, and this is never something we’d advocate.
Interested in finding out how you can better engage pupils using your VLE and a bring-your-own-device policy? Contact us for a free consultation at email@example.com