Education always moves with the times. Generations ago, students were often given slates and chalk to do their workings out on in class while university lecture halls were designed with large rotating boards for professors to scribble notes and formulas onto as they talked. Fast forward a few decades and the overhead projector had taken over. Using clear sheets, students could see graphics and text blown up several times larger on the wall while the teacher explained it further. Today, these methods seem like they’re from the stone age. Modern lecture theatres and seminar rooms are crammed with cutting-edge tech like interactive whiteboards, HD video screens, and surround sound systems. On their desks and in their bags, students may also have new technology to aid in their learning. While some companies have experimented with ‘smart pens’ and other fancy note-taking devices, the most dominant device is the tablet computer.
Although they had been around for many years before its launch, the iPad is the product that kickstarted our interest in the form factor. Using multitouch screens and an ARM chipset, these devices offer a good balance between weight, size, and functionality. But are tablets really good tools for education or are they just another fad pushed by companies with an interest in selling them?
Watch any movie about college and you’ll nearly always see the same thing – students walking around with a stack of books in their hands or in a bag. These books are pricey, with many costing upwards of $50. They’re also heavy and have even been linked to back pain and spine problems. Tablets, on the other hand, allow learners to carry around dozens or even hundreds of books without adding a single gram more to their load. This is because they can be used to access just about every written work ever created. There’s also no need to schlep to a library or bookstore, or to wait in for a delivery from Amazon when you need a new book.
A handy reference
No matter whether you’re training to become a doctor or you’re trying to boost your chess skills, having notes to refer back to during study sessions can be incredibly helpful. In the past, this has meant having a sea of Post-it notes on your wall or desk, or creating a huge stack of flashcards. While helpful, these old-fashioned methods produce clutter and can make it difficult to find the information you’re looking for.
Are tablets good tools for educationTablets, on the other hand, can make it much easier to find the information you need. Notes can be labeled, categorized, and searched digitally, meaning it can take just seconds to find both old and new information. It’s not just studying for exams that can be helped by the digital reference guides that are offered by tablets. Those learning to play games can use them to keep the rules close by while they get to grips with the mechanics. For card players, understanding the order in which poker hands are ranked is important, but with so many different combinations, it can be quite the challenge to memorize them quickly. For those playing at home, a quick-reference guide loaded on a tablet can help to refresh your memory as you practice.
Similarly, those that enjoy baking can use a tablet to help them follow a recipe rather than using a book. This way, they can watch videos that show the proper technique to mix, knead, and beat, taking out all the guesswork from often vague text-based instructions.
Perhaps the biggest benefit to using tablets for education is that they grant you access to far more information that would otherwise be available. Even the largest of libraries can’t stock every book and journal ever written, but the internet can. Provided you have access to the World Wide Web, a tablet can unlock all of humanity’s collective knowledge.
Therefore, a tablet can make it much easier to learn obscure topics, find niche references, and explore subjects that you may not otherwise have known existed. With these three great advantages, it seems pretty clear that tablets are not just good tools for education, but one of the most revolutionary ever created. They provide convenience, better access to knowledge, and could even cut down on the consequences of lugging heavy books around.