LEARNING TOOL: Students around the world are using iPads and tablets in the classroom.
LEARNING TOOL: Students around the world are using iPads and tablets in the classroom.

‘Engage’ has been a keyword thrown around a lot lately when dealing with educating students both at the primary and secondary levels. 

This is an age where the average child, and even more so in Bermuda, learns how to operate an array of electronic gadgets often quicker than even mom and dad can.

Gone are the days of Matchbox cars and My Little Pony figures. 

Welcome the electronic age of Track Mania and Robot Unicorn Attack.

As sad as it may seem it is as inevitable as the passing of Betamax. Books and colouring are being replaced by ebooks and TouchPad drawing. 

SMART Boards

Many stalwart die-hard moms and dads will fight it to the end but children are being lured away by the sights and sounds of electronic devices.

At Warwick Academy, we have moved to supporting the traditional learning — good old books, pens and paper — with electronic stimulus. 

Schools use SMART Boards to present the teachers’ lessons on the wall, replacing traditional blackboards. 

But watching a lesson is not enough for these ‘New Age’ students.

You can have them walk up and select the right answer on the board for all to see, but now we are seeing an even newer ‘New Age’ student, so to speak. 

Web 2.0 and social media has taken over because the user participates, collaborates and designs the content for all to see.

This is what the current students feed off of. Many schools have adopted the BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) method allowing students to participate in the class with tablets and smartphones. 

This saves the school on technology purchasing costs but raises the issue of control and monitoring.

To meet this need, Warwick Academy has incorporated the use of iPads in the classroom so students can have their own device to work from and still actively design and submit material for all to see. 

We have also signed a leasing agreement, replacing all school computers with new PC’s, to be replaced every three years. 

This way we can be sure that the technology they work from never becomes outdated.

New hardware allows for any application to run quickly and effectively without teachers waiting for a student’s PC to ‘catch up’. 

Using our online Virtual Learning Environment (VLE), students can access department material, homework assignments and check on school notices and upcoming calendar events.

Parents have access to student assignments, attendance, reporting and additional school-related information.

We are about to launch a new version specifically designed for tablets and mobile devices.

The PC itself will be dead within the next decade.  Knowing this, we have started actively investigating the use of tablets, which will be the only device most users will work from at home within five years.

As mentioned, we have purchased two labs of iPads for classes to sign out.

But iPads have certain limitations that make enforcing regulations over users difficult. 

To overcome this, we are now testing and having great success with Android tablets.Within the next year we expect to have labs of these available for primary and secondary students to work from. 

Teachers will be able to bring up a screen on the SMART Board that monitors every student’s tablet in ‘real time’ view.

With the touch of the SMART Board, a teacher can grab a student’s work and bring it to the front, for all students to watch.

Tablets will be locked down to allow only access to sites and applications the teachers design, and every teacher will have their own desktop for the students to log into, with material pertinent to only that subject. 

No hunting through icons and folders to find what you are supposed to be running. On-task and engaged — electronically.

Students will run surveys, take quizzes, vote on topics and collaborate on material all through the tablets.

Welcome to the ‘New Age of Education’.

Mark Hamilton is the ICT teacher and IT support for Warwick Academy.