Tablets in education

tablets: the cure for what ails education? While it can sometimes be difficult to understand just what exactly the related question or challenge is, in many education systems around the world, the ‘answer’ or ‘solution’ put forward is increasing the same: ‘Tablets!’ Indeed, it seems that, over the past few years, not a week has gone by without some sort of high profile announcement about a new educational tablet initiative somewhere — or about changes to an existing such project. Excitement about the promise and potential of information and communication technology (ICT) devices for use in teaching and learning has been around for a few decades, but only recently has this been translated into large scale purchases of such devices for use in schools outside of industrialized, ‘highly developed’ countries. What’s happening where, you ask? Here are some random, but fairly representative, reports from recent years about this undeniable trend: Brazilian government to give tablets to state school teachers Fatih Project distributes 732,000 tablets (Turkey) Indonesian students in remote areas will soon receive tablets to replace textbooks Tablet computers in Kazakhstan schools by 2020 Distribution of tablets to teachers for e-Learning project begins (Jamaica) Tablet-based learning taking shape in Malawi Russia announces new e-reader tablet for use in schools Swedish schools aim to ditch books by 2013 Finnish school abandons books for tablets Romanian Education Ministry wants to equip all schools with tablets As Liberian schools remain closed, tablets could become digital classroom Colombian students and teachers will receive 900.000 tablets for free One primary school pupil, one tablet: Dakar mayor (Senegal) 410k tablets distributed to schools in 4 regions of Peru Not all the news is about tablets going *out* to schools; devices can flow in the reverse direction as well: Junta’s Basic Education Commission wants One Million Tablets Returned from Children (Thailand) Government withdraws 88‚000 tablets from schools due to theft (South Africa) L.A. Unified takes back iPads as $1-billion plan hits hurdles (USA) It’s true that not everything that is announced actually comes to pass. Timelines are often a moving target, and the scope and/or scale of a project as initially conceived can change radically. But the trend is clear. Why are educational policymakers authorizing the purchases of so many tablets in so many education systems around the world?

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