Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

Technology - Governments Seek Tablets for All as Takeover Continues: News

Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

Technology - Governments Seek Tablets for All as Takeover Continues: News

Article excerpt

UK may have to follow as devices spread among world's students.

They have become the must-have gadget, promising internet access for students while also helping teachers to organise their lives.

The US aims to provide every student with a personal tablet computer within three years, while other countries, including Singapore and Turkey, have adopted similar targets for equipping their own students with the devices.

Take-up in England has been more sporadic, but the author of new research believes the shift towards personal tablets elsewhere could have a knock- on effect for students in the country.

Barbie Clarke, managing director of social research company Family, Kids and Youth, which has been studying the effect of personal tablets in schools for the past three years, said that decisions made by other governments would play an important role in England.

"It is not feasible to say when every student will have their own device, but what is interesting is what is happening in other countries," Dr Clarke said. "Every state in the US aims to give one-to-one access by 2016. Turkey has adopted a similar policy, as has Singapore, and even Jamaica has recently announced the same thing. France, the Netherlands and the Scandinavian countries are looking into it as well.

"I think if there was any sense that the UK could be left behind that might have an impact (on every student being given a tablet)."

For her research, Dr Clarke is tracking nine schools and monitoring the impact of using different tablets, such as Apple's iPad or Samsung's Galaxy Tab. The Department for Education asked Family, Kids and Youth to host a seminar last week and is understood to be interested in the results.

Findings so far have revealed that the devices promote independent learning and boost motivation among students. The pedagogical impact develops over time as teachers become more comfortable using tablets, according to Dr Clarke.

But her research also showed that there are still significant barriers to using tablets effectively, particularly when it comes to having suitable wi-ficonnectivity for so many devices. The report also showed that breakages were a problem and that insuring tablets was expensive.

The findings follow controversy over state-funded schools in England asking parents to either buy their children a tablet outright or pay up to Pounds 30 a month for access to a device. Teaching unions have complained that this risks stigmatising children who cannot afford the technology. …

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