This is Guest Post form Laura
I remember the days. Backpack almost ripping, due to the overwhelming weight and pressure of books,although only a chapter from each is needed. The sound of my laptop’s fan: embarrassingly breaking the tranquil yet deafening silence of the library. The inconvenience of walking through an urban area, carrying a laptop bag which quite loudly indicates to potential muggers that indeed inside lays a rather expensive piece of machinery.
Fortunately, such days are long gone for me and many students across the country. Out with the old -scouring the library for more books than is physically possible to carry, carrying the crime magnet that is a laptop – and in with the new: the tablet PC.
Tablet computers have been brought to the fore again recently with the launch of the new iPad, but the benefits of tablet computers apply regardless of their prestige. In this article, we will run through some of the top benefits of tablet computers for students.
1. They are lighter than the average laptops, and their ability to hold a digital archive of books means that one tablet PC can store a whole library’s worth of material, allowing students to avoid combining gym duties with book carrying. Furthermore, a tablet can be hidden away in the depths of one’s backpack, away from potential thieves.
2. A longer battery life is another perk afforded by tablet PCs, with many easily lasting up to six hours more than most laptops and not requiring messy cords; so you don’t have to be seated at a desk next to a power source to work on it for an extended revision shift. Learning becomes mobile, and can take place at home, on the bus or in the park.
3. Not only can tablets store textbooks, but they can also bring a new interactive element to learning
that was unavailable previously. Oxford University’s Internet Institute recently published its first digital, interactive textbook; Professor Vikor Mayer-Schonberger said this prototype book would “help to revolutionise learning tools… Indeed, it encourages reader to interact, by making decisions about what they want to know and in how much depth and detail”. There is also huge scope for sophisticated learning games, which need not be just for young children anymore.
4. Through their 3G and WiFi connections, tablet PCs provide access to a wealth of online learning
materials. Educational podcasts and downloadable lectures have been available for some time now,
and this section is ever-growing. For example, in February the Massachusetts Institute of Technology launched its inaugural free online course, dubbed MITx, which runs in parallel to its face-to-face courses. The first course, Circuits and Electronics, may not interest everyone, but the success of this trial could open up doors to a more thorough library of courses available online.
5. To top it all off, a tablet PC is affordable for broke students. A basic tablet can be purchased for
around $100, but prices look set to go much lower; last year, the Indian government unveiled the
Aakash tablet, which retailed at only $35. The Indian government said they aimed to revolutionise
education by offering highly subsidised tablets to millions of students and teachers who otherwise
would not have access to technology; Bangkok is trialling a similar scheme for the new school term.
The apps, ebooks and software that tablet learning requires are also proving more cost-effective than traditional learning methods. Both the Oxford University interactive textbook and the free MIT lectures mentioned above are available free, for students and non-students, and package offers such as the Apple Volume Purchase Program allow schools and institutions to buy apps and ebooks in bulk.
The current potential of tablet computers for learning means that students can now use technology for more than just Facebook downloads; with their availability and price making them more accessible thanever, it’d be stupid not to.