Tablet Use in Education
According to Gorhan, Oncu, and Senturk (2014), many teachers have reservations towards the use of tablets in education. The authors carried out an exploratory research on how the students in Turkey perceived the integration of tablets in their education. The authors discovered that tablet anxiety and outcome expectancy were the main factors that students and teachers were focused on in reference to the proposed project.
Similar to Tanner, Karas, and Schofield (2014), the aforementioned authors discovered that the 7th graders were the most optimistic about the use of tablets for their educational purposes. This means they expected to learn faster and more efficiently using the tablet as compared to other traditional methods of learning.
Gorhan, Oncu, and Senturk (2014) observed that the teachers interviewed believed that the tablets would help the students access reading materials easily, increase their motivation to read, and help them retain what they have learned. Phiri and Mahwai (2014) also concluded that the adoption of tablets led to the improvement of the learners’ welfares.
However, the teachers also claimed that reading from the tablets would have a negative influence on the health of the students especially their eyes. They also cited that the use of tablets in the classroom would lead to retarded human social development in the children and cause them to have deplorable reading habits.
Aksu (2014) was more specific in carrying out his research. He focused primarily on prospective mathematics teachers’ perception on the introduction of tablets in Turkish secondary schools. Through his study, he discovered that the prospective teachers viewed the introduction of tablets in secondary schools beneficial. Majority of the candidate teachers agreed with the deployment of the tablets stating that they would make the learning of mathematics more enjoyable and impactful. This is because of the visuals and animations that could be integrated into the learning. They also believed that the tablets would make it easier for the students to understand abstract mathematical concepts.
However, the prospective teachers warned that the use of the tablets in a mathematics class could lead to a loss in communication between the teacher and the student. Students will be paying more attention to the tablet than to the actual instructor. Aksu (2014) also concurred with Gorhan, Oncu, and Senturk (2014) on the issue of reduced social interaction amongst the children and with the outside world owing to the constant use of the tablet.
On a similar note, Cuhadar (2014) conducted his study on the impact of tablet use in classrooms by studying candidate teachers. Unlike Aksu (2014), Cuhadar’s study focused on Turkish IT pre-service teachers. Through his study, he discovered that the IT pre-service teachers in Turkey had technology acceptance towards the tablet use in classrooms. This acceptance translates to their having a positive attitude towards the tablet PCs and their intent to use the tablets in their learning and teaching practices. Like many authors conducting studies on the use of tablets, he discovered that tablet use had its own disadvantages/challenges. The IT pre-service teachers noted that there were some hardware, software, and communication challenges brought on by the use of tablets in the classrooms.
Savas (2014) also conducted a study on pre-service teachers in Turkey and concurred with his fellow authors on the subject matter. He explored the attitude that EFL teachers had on the use of tablets in the classroom. Majority of the respondents stated that the tablet would be a beneficial instructing tool in their classrooms.
Fabian and MacLean (2014) also attempted to analyze the effects of tablet use in classroom. The research was carried out in Scotland where adoption of tablets in schools was quick. The authors point out several key benefits of tablet use including the fact that they help reach underserved children and establish a personalized learning experience. Inculcation of tablets also promotes motivation, parental involvement, understanding of complicated concepts, and learner engagement. The writers also noted that the adoption of tablets in colleges led to increased student welfare and retention. They perceive that this benefit can trickle down to learners in lower grades.
However, the authors discovered issues with the adaptation of tablets in schools. These issues were grouped into technical and activity design issues. Unfamiliarity with the use of the tablet was a major problem under technical issues. The tablets will also occasionally crash and the students might lose important work since they will be forced to restart. The authors also found that there was a mis-match between the technology of the tablet and the activity design. For instance, the students experienced problems with input while using the tablets as word processors.
Hieb and Ralston (2010) focused on tablet use in universities in the United States. Similar to other studies conducted on the subject matter, the authors used student surveys to investigate the impact of the use of tablets in their studies. Their findings concur with the findings of other authors such as the study conducted by Mang and Wardley (2013) when it comes to student perceptions on using tablets in their coursework. Through their research, they discovered that the majority of the students at J.B. Speed School of Engineering found the use of tablets as a vast improvement in their coursework over the use of PowerPoint lectures, or the traditional blackboards and projectors. However, the authors found that majority of the students were hesitant in using the deployed tablets for their own note taking. Mang and Wardley (2013) had similar results after their investigations into the subject matter.
Parnell and Bartlett (2012) agree with Aksu (2014) on how the use of tablets makes learning more visible. However, the former authors focused their study on the implications of tablet use in preschool and primary schools. They took a new turn with their research on the subject matter by studying how tablets and other gadgets make documentation easier for the teachers in the classrooms. The authors discovered that the use of tablets made it easier for the teachers to observe and record the children’s learning and development process.
The parents can access this documentation online increasing their participation in their children’s learning as well as making the communication between parents and teachers more effective. The authors also discovered that effective documentation helps shape a child’s self-perception and the use of tablets to conduct documentation makes the entire process more effective and easier to achieve (Shifflet, Toledo, & Mattoon, 2012; McManis & Gunnewig, 2012).
Instead of focusing on the benefits of tablets to parents and teachers of pre-schoolers, Couse and Chen (2010) opted to look at the level of engagement the children had with the tablets. It was noted that there was increased learner interest in class. Children especially liked to draw using the stylus on the tablets. They were some technical issues involved when it came to teaching the children how to use the device but after that, it was smooth sailing.
Johnson (2013) found that teachers who teach special needs children also embraced the use of tablets and iPads in the classroom. The teachers found that these devices were particularly beneficial to learners with autism, poorly developed fine motor control, and attention deficits. The author found that the use of these devices particularly promoted the development of literacy and language skills in these students.
As seen from the above discussion, most researchers and experts on the subject concur that tablet use in schools can be beneficial. Some of the benefits that can be accrued based on the findings of the scholars include enhanced child engagement in the classroom, and increased retention of learned material. The scholars also discovered that tablets motivate the younger students to learn and enjoy the process. However, the researchers came across several challenges of tablet use in lower classes. Most respondents cited that tablet use in education leads to social retardation and a breakdown in social interaction and communication. For the advantages of tablet use in education to be effectively realized, the concerned institutions need to find solutions to some of the disadvantages that the technology brings with it.
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