What is Tablet Computing?

In the past three years, advances in tablets have captured the imagination of educators around the world. This category is led by the incredible success of the iPad, which at the time of publication had sold more than 85 million units and is predicted by GigaOM to sell over 377 million units by 2016. Other similar devices such as the Samsung Galaxy Nexus, Kindle Fire, the Nook, Sony's Tablet S, and the Microsoft Surface have also entered this rapidly growing market. In the process, the tablet (a device that does not require a mouse or keyboard) has come to be viewed as a new technology in its own right, one that blends features of laptops, smartphones, and earlier tablet computers with always-connected Internet and thousands of apps with which to personalize the experience. As these new devices have become more used and understood, it has become even clearer that they are independent and distinct from other mobile devices such as smartphones, e-readers, or tablet PCs. With significantly larger screens and richer gesture-based interfaces than their smartphone predecessors — and a growing and ever more competitive market — they are ideal tools for sharing content, videos, images, and presentations because they are easy for anyone to use, visually compelling, and highly portable. Tablets have gained traction in education because users can seamlessly load sets of apps and content of their choosing, making the tablet itself a portable personalized learning environment.

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(1) How might this technology be relevant to the educational sector you know best?

  • - kevinashfordrowe kevinashfordrowe Feb 8, 2014I think that we are just beginning to see the impact that tablet computers are going to have on education in general and Higher Education in particular. Their portability and the accessibility that they provide will make them increasingly compelling 'devices of choice' for students I suspect. In addition to this, I also believe that an increase in wireless coverage at campus allied to an increase in BYOD will make these type of devices even more valuable to students. The next challenge will be extending battery length but that is also recognised by makers.
  • I'm seeing this beginning to happen in TAFE etc but mostly classroom based to date. When learners are provided with a tablet, equipped with relevant apps, that allows flexibility and connectivity in and out of the classroom we'll be getting somewhere. Lots of potential for any course that has a strong workplace focus - childcare, health, trades etc - but not that different to old notions of mlearning, difference being sophistication of the apps and connectivity I think - robyn.jay robyn.jay Feb 15, 2014
  • Portability and accessability critical factors - high definition images and ability to merge 'life' and study in one device attractive.
  • The SEET survey(student experience and expectations of technology) ( 3 universities in 2013) shows that although tablets are not widely used now, students want to make more use of them. The portability (weight) compared to laptops is appealing. More digital resources, mobile friendly LMS's, aps and connectedness will make the meven more appealing in the future. - maree.gosper maree.gosper Feb 22, 2014

(2) What themes are missing from the above description that you think are important?

  • Tablets may have value in certain areas, particularly in terms of their ability to allow the user to create, but for traditional subjects, take History for example, difficulties with typing long written pieces will ensure the dominance of laptops. Tablets might be fun, but how much educational benefit do they provide? (- cpaterso cpaterso Feb 14, 2014)
  • Tablets increasingly have very functional docking keyboards which make authoring much easier. However we need to think about different ways to assess student learning (even in 'traditional' subjects like History that utilises the power of tablets. - s2.vaughan s2.vaughan Feb 18, 2014

(3) What do you see as the potential impact of this technology on teaching, learning, or creative inquiry?

  • Helps learners with their learn anywhere, anytime needs and could, through use of apps, make learning far more engaging (eg through augmented reality etc).
  • The convenience of access to content, communication, sharing of ideas and resources are all enabling features for learning. More research needs to be done on how students use the digital medium to turn information into a product / output. Do they, collate, conceptualise, analyse, synthesise through a small Tablet screen or do they use a combination of other strategies, spaces and tools to engage deeply in the creative process. - maree.gosper maree.gosper Feb 22, 2014

(4) Do you have or know of a project working in this area?

  • There are several examples of interesting practice relating to iPad rollout - La Trobe University has a mobile devices project currently underway http://mldp-fbel.blogspot.com.au and obviously the work at UWS, and University of Adelaide. Another useful example of iPads for teaching and learning: Northridge California State University
  • another response here

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