Tablets in the Classroom

Introduction
Technology advancements and developments have led to the increase of computer and tablet’s capabilities in organizations. These capabilities include corporate communication, data creation, storage, modification and transfer in organizations, security control, research, passing commands to automated equipment, and monitoring of operations and processes. These technology advancements have in the recent years found a way to learning institutions, and specifically tablets in classrooms where they get used for education purposes such as research, communication, and training. The application of tablets in the classroom provides a broad range of advantages and at the same time gets faced with several disadvantages.

Research
Advances in technology continue to have a significant effect on the fabric of present-day society, through transformations in the method of education, communication, and socialization. One great innovation and technology is the use of tablets in schools for education purposes. Zhang, et. al. (2015), states that there has been a huge and rapid expansion of tablets use especially in schools and households. A tablet that is a common term shortened for a tablet computer gets described as a mobile personal computer that has a touchscreen display, battery, and circuitry all installed in one. Simply, it’s an entirely functional laptop that has a touch sensitive screen (Van Orden, 2006). The touch sensitive screen swivels to enable the computer to get applied alternately as a laptop or a tablet notebook. The tablet enables a user to interact with the computer just in a similar way as they would interact with a pen and a notebook (Dickerson, et. al. 2009). Tablet PCs incorporate digitizing technology that enables the user to make use of the device using a digital pen instead of a mouse to navigate or a keyboard to type. Data, entry in tablets, is possible through typing using a digital or integrated keyboard and is usually faster than Personal Digital Assistant.

The characteristics of teaching and learning using tablets include dynamic documents, interactive textbook, lecture capture, drawing, digital note taking, interactive teaching, and collaboration (Gubacs-Collins, & Juniu, 2009). Tablets have three main features that are most relevant in the physical education sector namely, voice recognition, digital ink, and handwriting recognition (Gubacs-Collins & Juniu, 2009). Both laptops and tablets can provide Internet connectivity to students, hence allowing them to communicate and access emails, and also allow students to take and access lecture notes electronically.

Tablets in classrooms provide have several functionalities and capabilities. First, tablets can get used in training and tutoring of difficult subjects such as Mathematics, where they become more enjoyable and understandable to students using visuals and animations. Studies show that the integration of Mathematics apps in training Mathematics has led to improved performance in the subject (Zhang, et. al. 2015). These Mathematics apps also assist in closing the gap between struggling and typical students in the subject through enhancing instruction (Ellington, Wilson, & Nugent, 2011). Multimedia technologies, audio texts, and graphics that have got enabled through the use of tablets in classrooms have aided in vocabulary learning in language learning courses (Arikana & Ozenb, 2015). Students can easily work and collaborate with fellow students or the teacher to improve language fluency and knowledge in an environment enabled by tablets. E-learning has also become possible, as mobile service in class that gets provided by tablets has the capability of allowing an individual to attend via distance learning environment. It has enabled teachers and students to use the tablet features such as many limitless pages as possible, and various kinds of inks without erasing (Aksu, 2014). These pages are later shared with the students and teachers easily and at free costs as there are no costs of publishing, paper, distribution or usage. There are also not heavy as they are a reduce load to the students. The student learned content in class can also get assessed in a much easier and faster way in classrooms through the use of tablets (Enriquez, 2010). Tablets in classrooms also allow early childhood teachers to document the progress of child’s learning by taking photos, recording or even take a video. These forms of documents then get availed to the parent through messaging, daily blogs or online portfolios (Parnell & Bartlett, 2012). These methods allow teachers and parents to monitor child’s progress and identify weaknesses that need to get improved.

Mobile technology offers versatility and high adaptability for many learning styles and preferences as compare standard lecture and discussions in schools (Rossing, et. al. 2012). The use of tablets in classrooms allows the updating of students’ course materials and give assignments via SMS, and any other forms of alerts and updates. This aspect has got enabled through technological improvement of communication channels, hence improving mobile learning in further education (Fabian, & MacLean, 2014). Tablets use in classrooms has cemented a student-directed approach to writing instruction and at the same time assisting an inclusive classroom (Sullivan, 2013). The students can guide their writing process through the access of the electronic information resources, learning management system, and online text editor. When learning using tablets, it is easy to illustrate examples of certain topics.

Advantages of using tablets
There is increased interactivity in school work, through the use of tablets as it allows frequent communication, provides a platform for teacher- student discussion, and teachers easily receive student’s feedback. Tablets utilization in classrooms provides a critical opportunity for mobile learning, that encourages learning anywhere and anytime (Fabian, & MacLean, 2014). It can reach undeserving children who are unable to attend physical classes because of a particular reason. Through the use of tablets in classrooms has enhanced 21st-century social interactions, allowed for fitting with learning environments, and also the enabling of personalized learning experience.

The capability of tablets to illustrate learning at any time of a lesson increases the student understanding and know-how of a concept. Particularly the sciences and engineering, students can easily understand how machines work and the processes involved in the development of devices by researching on the internet (Rogers, & Cox, 2008). Mobility and digital ink characteristics available in a tablet, enhance the spontaneity in the process of learning. This aspect is possible because they provide information in a highly interactive as well as visual way instead of traditional methods such as a predetermined lecture or instruction that gets presented as a PowerPoint slideshow.

The increase in the use of tablets in schools would be vital in minimizing the rate of computer illiteracy in the society. The tablet functions similarly to a computer hence one can learn basic skills of using computers such as generating documents. Gubacs-Collins, & Juniu, (2009), in their study of the role played by tablet PCs as tools for teaching, identified that tablets benefited teachers by facilitating several functions, such as digital note-taking, annotation of presentation materials, and the markup of student assignments and projects. The use of tablet PCs also improved the attention of students in class and their comprehension and understanding of the course material.

Disadvantages of using tablets

The functionality of the various applications installed in tablets lags behind the software written for use in personal computers. For instance, the capability to create, modify and generate documents through the use of word-processing, spreadsheet, and presentation software, is less advanced in tablets that in personal computers (Mang & Wardley, 2013). Other challenges facing the use of tablets in schools for learning include low internet access, inequality in technology access, and the blocking and filtering of certain websites by the school authority (Heejung, 2014). The use of tablets in schools also calls for training of more teachers in how to operate and teach using tablets. Tablets are also prone to damage if not properly handled especially at elementary levels due to their fragile nature.

Conclusion
The use of tablets in schools has significantly affected the performance of students in schools, the service delivery of teachers, and the learner and parent satisfaction. Although the use of tablets in schools gets faced with several challenges, it is evident that the advantages outweigh them. The research concludes that the use of tablets in schools provides a wide range of benefits than challenges hence should get adopted in the modern educational system. With appropriate systems, proper strategic planning, and the right management of anticipations, the tablet technologies can effective alleviate educational levels in our schools.