Tablets for Schools - Q&A

Posted on 11 August 2014

Tablets for Schools believe tablets can transform education.  Their long-term goal is - tablets for each student in the UK. 

To find out more about their mission and the benefits of using tablets to support learning in schools we spoke to Tablets for Schools.

If you were to sum it up in one sentence, what is the mission of Tablets for Schools?

We believe tablets can transform the way children learn, and that schools across the country need help, not only with implementation but also in building a vision for how they want to use technology in the classroom and a digital learning strategy. Supporting schools to get the most out of tablet technology will not only help bridge the digital divide nationally and internationally, it will also help school children to develop the digital skills they need for the future.

We want to inspire schools, teachers and parents and provide a blueprint for them to adopt tablet technology.

What are the benefits of using tablets to support learning in schools?

We commission independent research that looks at the impact of 1:1 tablets on teaching and learning in nearly 40 schools across the UK. These schools highlight the benefits and also the challenges of integrating tablets to support learning in schools. It’s important to note that such technology is not intended to replace traditional teaching methods, but is a tool to enhance education. Our research schools tell us that tablets have provided the following benefits:

  • Increased pupil and parent engagement
  • Increased collaboration between students and their peers, their teachers and parents
  • Better behaviour and attendance
  • Cost savings
  • Bridging the digital divide to ensure equal access to technology for pupils across the UK
  • Tailored lessons and learning materials for students, bringing gifted and talented and SEN students back into the heart of the lesson
  • Developing 21st century skills that young people can use in FE, HE and in the workplace?

What steps can schools take to make sure that pupils are safe when using tablets?

We have commissioned specific research into the use of the Internet by young people, involving 3,500 11-17 year olds and have found the following tips to be useful for schools:

  • Talk to your students about steps they can take to stay safe online (89% of students report that their school is doing this and 95% report that their school talks to them about posting personal information on the Internet)
  • Speak to your ICT team, tablet provider, Internet Service Provider and other schools regarding Internet filters
  • Develop a clear plan to deal with cyber bullying & effectively ensuring all staff and students are regularly updated and aware of it (77% of students report that their school talks to them about how to treat others online)
  • Install recommended anti-cyber bullying apps and internet filters on student devices
  • Keep up to date with cyber bullying resources that are available in the wider community
  • Work with and provide support to parents, being open to discussing their concerns about cyber bullying and using the Internet at home (64% of students admitted taking an internet-enabled device to bed and 39% of students reported that they ‘sometimes feel addicted’ to the Internet)
  • Download the Tablets for Schools Student Charter to help students use their devices and the Internet responsibly
  • Regularly review your current acceptable use policies and update them to include cyber bullying and specific use of tablets

How can schools support and involve parents if they introduce a school-wide tablet scheme?

Engagement with governors, school staff, students and parents is extremely important when considering implementing a 1:1 (school-wide) tablet scheme. In the first instance, it is essential that school governors and staff are on board with the idea so that when parents are informed, they can be more confident in the school’s plans. Many of the schools in our research had initially sent letters to parents, explaining their vision for the use of tablets i.e. why they are introducing them, what they expect to achieve through their use, and also highlighting the benefits of tablets as found in the Tablets for Schools research. They also invited parents to attend a parent consultation evening in order to enable them to raise any concerns/suggestions and ask any questions. Further, they held separate (and often individual) meetings with some parents who were unconvinced of the beneficial effects on their children’s education.

Following these meetings, schools would continue to provide updates to parents about any developments via newsletters and further consultation evenings.

The main concern for parents is the amount of time their children will be on the device and their time spent/activities on the Internet. As such, it is important that schools address these issues effectively by updating their Acceptable Use Policies and incorporating ways of engaging with their students about safe and secure use of the Internet.

Last week Tablets for Schools released the results of their study “What advice would you give to other people your age about staying safe online?”. The study was carried out among 2,473 secondary school students aged 11-17 in schools across England and Scotland and demonstrates that young people are not only knowledgeable about e-safety, but are enthusiastic about giving advice to their peers.  To find out more about this research or about Tablets for Schools visit: http://www.tabletsforschools.org.uk/.

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