Technology has improved our lives in so many ways, so it shouldn’t be surprising that it is making its way into the classroom. Not only are teachers using technology to help manage the classroom – such as for more easily recording grades or communicating with parents – but they are also using it to improve learning for all types of children.
In particular, several schools around the country have invested in wholesale tablets to outfit all their classrooms or to experiment with one or two classrooms with plans to expand. Some are applying for special grants to get the tablets, and others are reappropriating funds from other resources to make the investment. Schools in needy areas have found success qualifying for special grants, in particular, since these schools usually have children that can’t afford this technology at home yet are likely to need learning interventions the most. Some are lucky enough to get the tablets donated.
Here are a few of the ways that studies have shown that tablets can help children improve learning:
Alleviate Pressure to Communicate
Personality differences are just as important as learning styles when trying to reach children. Introverts may not perform as well in some settings because they do not like speaking in front of a class or performing work in a group. Some can even feel anxious in one-on-one interactions, such as with the teacher.
By performing work on a tablet, children don’t have the same pressure to communicate, so they can focus on the concepts instead. They can work on them at their own pace, without the need to factor in interpersonal interactions. They can focus on what’s most important.
A UCLA study found that autistic children were able to increase their language significantly over a short time using tablets. The children had low language skills – usually knowing only 20 words or less – when the study began. By the end of six months, they had an average of 100 words.
Researchers concluded that the reason that working on the tablet provided such results is that the children could get repeated practice even in a short period of time. The tablets also provided visual stimulants that enhanced learning for these children.
Though the study focused on autistic children, the results are seen in children without learning disabilities, as well, and for the same reasons.
Clarify Difficult Concepts through Multiple Formats
When children are working on tablets, they have multiple options for learning about a concept. For example, if they are reading on a tablet and run across a difficult word, they can listen to an audio clip pronouncing it, read a short entry defining it, see an example of it in another sentence, get synonyms and antonyms, and more.
Or say a child has a hard time understanding a math principle; he can see a visual explanation, work through word problems, see numerical equations, and more. The different formats allow a child to explore a concept from various angles to tap into all the ways he or she learns.
Technology is so widespread that children use it in many areas of their life. They have become comfortable with it, and they equate it with entertainment in most cases. By using technology in the classroom, teachers can make children feel more engaged with what they are learning.
Two different studies found that the use of technology, and particularly tablets, made children more interested in the lesson and more excited about what they were learning. When children were using the tablets, they turned in work or made progress that exceeded teacher expectations.
Tablets allow teachers to use a variety of apps and programs to help children of all ages and abilities to learn every kind of concept. The technology can be used to learn how to play guitar just as well as it can to learn how to write poetry. Children who use tablets are more engaged in learning and are better able to understand concepts. They can also communicate with teachers more easily, and they can become better prepared for a life after school that includes the widespread use of tablets and other types of technology for work and home life.