Tablets and mobile apps


How can tablets help teachers to make the most of their time and what role do apps have in the classroom? Gareth Davies offers his thoughts.

There is no denying that tablets and mobile apps are the future in classrooms. In the last few years there has been a lot of discussion surrounding the development of technology and how it can be used as an innovative teaching tool.

Many schools are now investing in tablets for both their students and staff, and new technologies specifically designed for education are emerging all the time.

Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) for students is also on the rise, so it is important that teachers know the different technologies they use.

If a teacher is familiar with tablets and SmartPhones, and understands what is achievable, they can adapt their lessons and create an exciting and dynamic learning experience.

Saving teaching time

As technology becomes more integrated into the classroom, teachers need to think about how they use tablets and mobile apps to help them do their job – not just using them as a teaching resource for their students.

Mobile technology does not mean that teachers should now be taking their work home with them. In fact, it should mean quite the opposite. The school day is busy enough, but once you throw in a school trip or have to cover a sick colleague’s extra-curricular activity at short notice, it is easy to fall behind.

Mobile devices can alleviate some of this pressure. Leaving school during working hours no longer has to mean putting a stop on tasks which will then have to be completed at a later date, potentially resulting in longer working hours in order to catch up.

With a tablet, instead of sitting on a coach for two hours with nothing to do, teachers can create and upload lesson plans and assignments, mark homework and complete many day-to-day tasks.

Accessing web-based technology that is used every day in school, such as a learning platform, also means teachers do not have to worry about losing or corrupting files when they switch from using a PC to a tablet.

Having the capacity

Good broadband capacity is central to the success of this type of technology, which is available across most of the UK, but certainly not everywhere. In some countries such as Malaysia, 4G has been rolled out to all of its 10,000 state schools, making working with tablets and handheld devices every day a reality.

It is likely to be some time before we see this happening in the UK, but when 4G does arrive in force, teachers will witness a new era in mobile and handheld technology, giving anytime, anywhere access.

Apps designed for education One of the best things about technology such as SmartPhones, is that there are literally thousands of apps out there designed specifically for education professionals. There are even websites dedicated to helping teachers find the best apps for them.

Most apps are platform specific and developed for the Apple, Android or Windows Mobile operating systems, so cannot be used across all devices. Browser-based solutions are the best option for schools who want to make learning fun and embrace the X-Box generation, and with the latest technologies such as HTML5, there is no loss in quality.

The ideal app is one that caters specifically to a teacher or student’s need, which is why teachers and students are now designing their own apps. It means teachers can really tailor technology and make it work for them.

Students from Devonport High School for Boys in Plymouth designed their own app and mobile site that integrated with the school’s learning platform. The app has inspired other students to start coding and developing their own apps and sites. As a result of the students’ success, the school now has “App design” integrated into a new key stage 3 curriculum.

There is no question that technology will play a big part in the future of the classroom – it is up to teachers to make the most of it.

  • Gareth Davies is managing director of Frog, developers of the Frog Learning Platform.


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