The use of ICT in the classroom can provide many benefits to both teachers and students. It can motivate and engage students in their learning. Since the introduction of the tablet computer (such as iPads) into the classroom there has been much debate over its benefits.
When using technology such as iPads or other mobile learning devices in the classroom, it is important to remember that the device should be used to serve two purposes:
- To promote the development of 21st century skills such as ICT capability; and
- To support and enhance the content learning of the subject.
Using ICT in the classroom is great for the development of higher order skills and this in itself is fantastic as HOS is also a key component of ICT capability. Students needs to not only learn new techniques with devices, but also to know that they know these techniques and are able to DECIDE whether to use it for a solution to a problem.
Apps on tablet computers can create a headache for teachers when choosing the best ones. However, if you do want to develop student ICT capability, then the best types of apps to use the ones that give the student total control of the process and the student's level of decision making - or their higher order thinking skills - is high. In this instance, the types of apps we are talking about are the ones that specifically say develop higher order skills and others where students can create or curate things.
Like software, apps need to be evaluated too. Here are some questions that can help to evaluate the most appropriate content-free apps for your students (Bennett, 1997)
- What features and facilities does the software provide which might be used to extend children’s learning?
- How easy are these features to use?
- Will the children need to be instructed in their use before or during their use of the app?
- What is the educational purpose underlying the child’s use of the app? (e.g. To develop ICT skills? To learn how to use the app? To use the app as a means to an end? To develop communication skills and knowledge?)