In the weeks leading up to ULearn I had been considering finally purchasing an iPad or a tablet running the Android OS. I’ve had an iTouch for two years now, and have enjoyed using it for everything from personal note taking, diary, games, music, email and cooking (recommend Nigella Lawson’s app), to using it in the classroom with educational apps. However, I could see the benefit of a tablet with its bigger screen size, quick web surfing, book reading, and for sharing my photography.
I was pleased to see a number of trade stands at ULearn11 with iPads or tablets up for grabs in exchange for completing simple surveys. So, between browsing what innovations were on offer and enjoying the food, I completed surveys. Thanks to CORE Education, I won a Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 at the end of the conference.
Here's how I've found it…
The first thing I did when I finally got home was to start charging it and setting it up. It was a simple process requiring me to download Samsung's Kies software to my laptop so I could sync my files and calendar. The tablet also connected to my wireless quickly and through the built-in browser I was soon able to access all my accounts such as Flickr, Facebook, Trade Me, YouTube, and even manage my photography webpage.
Personal use of the tablet
In terms of personal use, the Tablet has taken precedence over my iTouch.
The Memo app is a great way to keep organised, and the calendar allows me to keep track of all important events, especially meetings at work.
Surfing the web and communication
Instant and easy web surfing without waiting for my laptop to boot has been enjoyable. Skype is great with the front facing webcam.
I have transferred my portfolio of photography to the tablet which has been a great tool for sharing with potential clients.
Recently, I downloaded the Amazon Kindle app, and was surprised by how easy and cheap it is to purchase books. And the reading experience is just as enjoyable as an actual book. —likewise, reading the paper through the NZ Herald app.
In terms of games, I have become addicted to Angry Birds. And recently, my cat even started using my tablet to play CrazyCat, a simple app for cats. A mouse wanders around on the screen, and he gets points every time he swats at it.
Using the tablet and apps in the classroom
Around the classroom and at school the tablet is rarely sitting idle. I have it with me to quickly type notes and to add events and meetings to the calendar.
It is most popular during maths time, when children use it to play a range of Maths apps (Math Genius, Math Training, Math Magic, Math Ninja, Math Workout, Math Maniac) during their game rotation. During reading we have used the camera to record our plays so we could critique the expression in our voices and actions upon playback. The quality of the videos is impressive.
As the Android OS supports Flash Player, educational websites that don’t work on Apple devices work on the Samsung Tablet. Thanks to this we have been able to access our usual educational sites (BBC Bitesize and Snappy Words are great). We have used the StopWatch & Timer app for athletics, and recording the time of our model land yachts for maths so we can then work out their speed on the Calculator app.
Overall the tablet is an engaging educational tool.
I see potential in the Tablet for bringing devices into the classroom 1:1. However, I feel that a lack of a publishing programme such as Word, which our current Microsoft-based schools run, will for now hold the tablet back from widespread adoption. Our school will be looking for replacements of our net book pods next year, and the lack of this publishing option would see us steer away from tablets (unless we adopt Google Docs). Likewise, I can't see the tablet replacing my teacher laptop yet, not until it can connect to and run our interactive whiteboards, or allow us to plan through a publishing programme.