10 Simple Tips For Better Teaching With Tablets
by Ravi Bhatt, iAnnotate Software Developer
Teachers can’t escape the growing trend of technology in the classroom. It’s more than just hype. More schools are buying tablets for use in the classroom, with Apple’s tablet sales to the education sector doubling last year.
As a mobile software company whose product is used extensively in education, we dream big about the future of technology in the classroom. We have worked with numerous great teachers who have successfully leveraged tablets to improve the learning experience for students.
Are you tempted to join the trend? Here are ten tips for introducing tablets into your classroom.
1. Strive For A Mobile-Friendly Curriculum
Ensure curriculum is tablet-friendly. Review your syllabus for the coming semester and identify interactive projects that are a natural fit for an iPad. Conversely, pick a few subjects that are in need of a shake-up, having failed to come alive in a traditional classroom setting. Also, format materials to be easily viewed and used on a tablet. PDFs and Word files work the best for sharing and annotation.
2. Test Runs Matter
Practice before you deploy. Once you’ve identified opportunities to utilize tablets, read reviews and cases studies on blogs or social media channels to find the apps and best practices that could make your tablet lesson a success. Then, walk yourself through the app’s capabilities and identify progress benchmarks as you would with any lesson plan. Students are increasingly tech-savvy, but don’t assume that means they know how to optimally apply tablets in an educational setting. Rather than leaving it to the “techies,” develop and refine best practices on your own and in consultation with colleagues.
3. All Tablets Are Not The Same
Nexus 7s and 10s are not iPads are not Windows Surface Tablets. You get the idea.
Accordingly, you’ll need to test-drive the selection of the tablets students will use. Be sure to test your chosen apps on all the tablets your students will use to ensure they work properly. Whatever can fail, be confusing, not play nice, or other create a barrier to learning will. Murphy’s Law.
4. Students Can Probably Find Better Resources Than You Can
While you should take the lead on developing and driving the overall plan for tablets in your classroom, build in time for your students to demo new apps and mobile tech that they have discovered on their own. Not only will it give you new ideas for platforms and course integration, but it will also encourage students’ creativity and engagement.
5. Set Boundaries
Consider limiting access to the internet. No matter how appealing the presentation or activity, students (and, admit it, you too) will be distracted when receiving Facebook messages and emails during class. Even if classroom tablets aren’t loaded with personal accounts, simple internet browsing allows the mind to wander. If necessary, turn on “Airplane Mode” before distributing tablets, or ask students to turn it on themselves if bringing their own devices. It will work wonders for engagement.
Build in tech time-outs. Given the excitement surrounding education technology and the tremendous learning potential offered by tablets, it’s easy to involve them in each and every lesson in your syllabus. However, as you become more tech-savvy, continue to have regular time with screens off to minimize tablet burnout. Just as you adjusted your curriculum to be more tablet-friendly, be equally strategic with your traditional pens, paper, and chalkboard.
Ravi Bhatt is co-Founder and CEO of Branchfire, builders of software and tools that simplify how people work. Their award-winning iAnnotate app allows users to read, mark up and share documents and images via an iPad or Android tablet; image attribution flickr user jgoge and flickeringbrad; 10 Simple Tips For Better Teaching With Tablets