Comments (21)

  1.' flow says:

    Is the written word so meaningless in your vision?
    Yes, you can type on a tablet, but in all honesty, it is an horrific experience.
    I'm ancient – so I learnt to type young. For me, typing is the fastest method of communication Ii have. It is even faster than spoken word, if the time taken to recieve information is taken into account.
    Tablets are indeed fantastic for many purposes, but they are truly awful at allowing people to create written word (or, communicate any kind of complex concept that requires many words to convey) For example, this comment was relatively simple to create. If i had been using a tablet, then i'd still be picking out the first few sentences, letter by letter.

    For me, learning how to communicate the written word through learning how to type; is still essential if we wish to have students who are not crippled in their expression or resorting to L33t to get their messages a X.

    Think how long your own article took to write. Imagine doing that on a touchscreen. 

    Now imagine doing it with chronic RSI.

    welcome to a world without keyboards and good ergonomics.

  2.' Stuart Hale says:

    Hi Warren

    A very clear and well articulated overview thanks

    I would add one more dynamic. A Tablet can have a protective case that will withstand the harsh environments both in and out of the classroom – my own iPad in its case! I have demonstrated to many uLearn conferences by throwing into the air 2-3m high and done this 300+ times. I doubt any laptop with its lid open in a case would survive a 1m+ drop even once. Because of this the tablet is more likely to go with the student out of the classroom and on field trips etc.

    Then you parallel that the technology is more likely to be with the student where they go with the often quoted "the best camera you have is the one with you – on your phone in most cases!"

    So the best computer is the one that you have with you – and in most cases now it will be a Tablet! – not the Laptop back in the classroom on the desk!

    1.' Warren Hall says:

      Hi Stuart,

      Thanks for your thoughts, I agree entirely re the best computer being the one that you have with you, though of course that is only relevant if people see opportunities to move out of the classroom in the first place.

      Interestingly I am not a fan of cases as I find they add weight and bulk that I would prefer to do without. No doubt that they have saved any number of tablets over the last five years however.


  3.' Gayleen Mackereth says:

    Do not dismiss communication by words. In the real world the ability to write coherently and express complex ideas by logical and well developed thought is probably one of the most important skills you can give  young person. Although I tend personally to love the intuitive, the visual and the picture as my guide to all things, as a teacher and an adult I know how powerful the written word can be and the more skilled  and practiced one becomes at expressing it-and that takes a lot of time to practice at school, the  better equipped one will be in the course of life.Writing is very important and fewer and fewer students are able to write well, often actively hating writing as a result of their experiences.  So let's look to a device of the future which enables both types of communication.

    1.' Warren Hall says:

      Hi Gayleen,

      I was not meaning to dismiss the written word, but nor did  I think it needed me to champion it as it seems well entrenched. I am not sure if you intended to imply that it is only through writing that one can express complex ideas by logical and well developed thought. It seems to me that there are any number of ways that people can develop and express those skills. Maybe some of the students who actively hate writing would tolerate it more if it was only one of a number of ways that they routinely got to express themselves?

      If you have a few bluetooth keyboards available for tablet users to type on when needed I wonder if you might find that your device of the future is already here?

  4.' Grant says:

    You have all missed the point! It is all about choice , variety and the purpose :)

  5.' Jimmy O'Carroll says:

    A fairly bias article, one illustration of this being your multiple descriptions of a laptop as "a great device for interacting with via keyboard or mouse/trackpad".    Not sure if you've seen or used more recent laptops with voice recognition and cameras etc, some even have touch screens.  Another is the use of the word "intuitive" for tablets.  They are no more intuitive than the modern day laptop.

    Both laptops and tablets are great for learning depending on the tasks being undertaken.  It is however very hard to learn to write if you do not actually do some writing, something laptops are far better suited for.


    1.' Warren Hall says:

      Hi Jimmy,

      thanks for taking the time to comment. I realise that the lines between device types can be a bit blurry and that touch screens are no longer the sole domain of tablets, I decided it would make a very blurry blog post to include every permutation of device and it seemed that differentiating between form factor rather than features (which I pointed out are often similar) captured the essence of my argument. I would be interested to hear more of what you are driving at re modern laptops, especially if you have a majority of users who do not primarily interact with their laptops via keyboard/mouse. 

      I am not convinced that modern laptops are as intuitive as tablets, though would concede the gap is closing (by making modern computer OSs more like tablet OSs). It will be interesting to hear if anyone else cares to express an opinion one way or the other via comments here.

      As for your final point I completely agree, laptops are very well suited if what you want to do is write stuff. 

      1.' James says:

        I read the article and found myself agreeing with a notion of purchasing intent that came through. I agree with Warren often schools purchasing laptops and netbooks are thinking in a word bound paridigm and workflow becomes a barrier for less able users to creatively connecting with the content of their learning. Our students create animations, whiteboard samples of maths understanding with voiceovers, diagrams, photos of their work all on their tablets from the age of 5. The ease of tablets has made them the choice of our students. Parents like the pricepoint, reliability and ability to share student learning with over half our senior school providing their own device. Having options like laptops/ desktops available and high quality cameras etc encourage our children to think about technology as a tool to support learning and we encourage student to choose the best tool for the job.  

  6.' Sue Heath says:

    Your post certainly got me thinking about our vision for learning and how our ICT infrastructure aligns with that decision.  We have a variety of devices as if we are personalising learning, children need to make choices in terms of how they share their learning, who they work with and which device is best suited for the purpose.  This decision was not as clearly articulated as it could have been but the questions posed in your post will provide some good discussion with staff.

  7.' Janice Howe says:

    Kia ora koutou,

    Mate – after 6 weeks of having 1 chrome book between two in class I was feeling guilty of not having much work in the students' staitionery books that they all purchased at the beginning of the year! I was even considering going back to writing in student paper books and only publishing on chrome books even though student engagement has increased – arghhh:). While I am of the philosophy that each device suits a purpose I find myself tied to conventional ways of teaching and learning and assessing. Therefore, your article has been a good reminder of  vision, strategic plans, and aspirations of student agency and what is espoused compared to what is practised. In my experience my students are clever and if I really think about it are only hindered by how much I am controlling the situation – arghhh mind boggling!

    Nga mihi – thanks for that Warren:)

  8.' Lisa says:

    I read your article with great interest as this is a question I have asked myself for a while. I have recently been given an Ipad mini to use instead of a laptop for school work. I have used this device with my students, but am constantly frustrated by how sensitive it is. The students may be scrolling down and suddenly we jump to a new page. It also is slow to open on the internet – not as instantly responsive as you imply. It also doesn't let me save a copy of many images that my laptop allows me to do.

    You also suggest that groups of students can interact more easily, and I am not totally convinced. The device still tends to be controlled by one or two students. And, as already mentioned, many more modern laptops have touch screens that a group of students can use together.

    Also, I like to create folders and have files that I can reach at my fingertips and I don't find the ipad as user friendly. As I am old school, I feel there is a lot of expectation that I will know how to use the ipad and also that I have plenty of time to play around.

    I do however agree that laptops are not as discrete or mobile.They are more fragile. I think both have their place, and students need to be able to access both, depending on the activity/learning experience.  

  9. Interesting article.

    One of the great advantages of some tablets is the ability of users to write and draw. This is indeed the future. For examples see Surface Pro and now Surface 3. The stylus as an every day input device has revolutionised students' ability to express themselves freely and if necessary without a keyboard and/or mouse. Students can take notes in their own hand writing. They are much more likely to remember these than notes they typed. App developers are beginning to catch on. Where have all the folders gone? Life for students will be so much lighter!

  10.' Brent Godfery says:

    I have recently conducted my own research on the use of tablets within the classroom. A mixture of reading other research, visiting schools and discussing tablet use with other teachers. My conclusions especially at primary level to year six is that while engagement is up a little and if used supportively by the teacher differentiated learning and a boost i achievement in a specified area can be addressed well for some students. Overall they make no real diference to student achievement. Good well planned lessons and stimuli that engage children in learning discussions facilitated by a good teacher make as much or more diference. 
    Once students become more self directed in their learning there appears to be success in the use of any digital device. Both Laptops and Tablets have their place in our current world and need to be included in our classrooms.

    1.' Warren Hall says:

      Hi Brent,

      thanks for taking the time to comment. Have you published your research somewhere that people can find online, I would love to take a look and I am sure others would as well. 

  11.' John says:

    I think you are looking at this all wrong. I think the biggest limitation of schools is always assessment and achievement. No matter how "modern" the learning is, and how much learning is happening. If the results are not on par with the standards then its useless.


    So regards to tablet vs laptop, the problem again lies in what you are trying to achieve. Laptops do everything, tablets tend to be great for consumption of knowledge and aweful at creating things due to the limitations of the hardware (and software). Which brings me back to my first point that assessments are done in a certain way such as an essay and it is difficult to produce this while also being able to reasearch in an alternate tab.

    1.' Warren Hall says:

      Hi John,

      I really do not subscribe to the tablets are simply for content consumption theory and tabbed browsing is no longer the sole domain of desktop OS’s.

      I do agree that if assessment tasks do not change, despite technological improvements making alternatives possible, then the old tool might still be the best way of doing the old task though.

      1.' John says:

        I originally agreed with you but after trying to go tablet only I gave up after about a week due me being slower for work and frustration over compatability issues. I feel as you get older tablets become less useful to the point that most year 13 students will only bring a laptop even if they have access to both.

        Newer tablets may indeed be more laptop like in the funcionatlity (such as the surface pro) but for students and cost being an issue I think laptops tend to offer a better all round solution for a smilar price


  12.' Shane says:

    Interesting points made in the article and in the comments. Like many, I have a foot in both camps. I too find tablets frustrating and awkward when it comes to creating written content, and for researching. But I would never use a laptop out and about – also frustrating and awkward. I'm lucky enough to be able to pick and choose when I need to and I think that's the way forward.


    I can see a time in the future when visual texts become more acceptable to use as a professional. If that time ever comes, then I'm sure you will see keyboard use drop away. For the time being, that's not the case.

  13. Hi Warren,

    Seems to me you have just made a compelling case for hybrid notebooks (or docking tablets).

    My other comment would be that as a potential employer, I want my future (heck, even my current) employees to be well versed and practiced in the art of essay writing in general and report-writing in particular.  And this is for technology / science / engineering specialists.  At somepoint, technologists and consultants need to be able to sit down and transform the results of their thinking into a cogent, interesting and well-constructed report that presents technical analysis, calculation, concepts etc to a potentially non-technical audience who are responsible for approving, funding, implementing or developing the substance of the report.

    I am not yet convinced that there is a better vehicle for this than writtten reports (electronically, not on paper) This is especially true when the report needs to survive the scrutiny of the court system.  However, I also think there are a lot of opportunities to improve written reports with supplementary media, but the core of the report remains the organisation of text.  

    However I don't actually care if the production of a report is handwritten on a tablet, typed on a PC or word-processed with tex on a "mainframe".  I'll even settle for handwritten on paper (though there are commercial reasons for not encouraging this).  But however it happens, the report and variations remains now the cornerstone of formal commercial technical communication, so if the education system is producing students who can *only* express themselves via free-form doodles in an ePortfolio system, then it has failed me!

    (And yes, I'm probably exaggerating for the sake of making my point! :-) )

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.