Tablet use is booming in education. Schools across the nation are using tablets as a key way to encourage interactive learning. This post tells the story of a day in the life of a 4G LTE tablet used by a middle school student, Grace Cheesman, as her primary tool for homework, projects, keeping up with her grades and other responsibilities.
Tablets have evolved quite a bit since they first hit store shelves. No longer just used for games, checking email or reading digital versions of newspapers and magazines, they have become the go-to-gadget for a variety of technology needs. Whether they replace a laptop, serve as a digital kitchen cookbook or act as a video-chatting tool to stay connected to family and friends, tablets might even be considered a necessity.
For soon-to-be high school freshman Grace Cheesman, her tablet has become a back-to-school essential. During her last year of middle school, Grace was given an iPad by her school to use for nearly everything - from testing her math skills, to monitoring her grades, to making up school work while sick.
When the alarm sounds at 6 a.m., Grace turns to her tablet to get a snapshot of her day. Her school uses Google Classroom, which has become her tool in making sure she’s prepared for the day ahead. A few of her teachers posted announcements the night before, outlining the class agenda for the day. Grace makes sure her backpack is full of the materials she needs and she’s off to school.
While on her way, Grace gets a head start on a group project. With just a few taps on her tablet, she’s able to open a worksheet from Google Drive, edit the document to add her contribution and drop her partners an email to let them know her portion is done. The other students in her group can do the same, and when they’re finished, they can notify their teacher their work is available for feedback. Without having to print a single paper, their teacher can provide comments in the margins that are instantly accessible to all three students.
When Grace is at her locker, she strikes up a conversation with a friend who was home sick last week. They discuss the math homework from the night before – both girls have been able to download the assignment from Google Classroom, complete it and have it back in their teacher’s hands before class even begins. Using apps like Gmail also help keep students informed of the class requirements and simplifies asking teachers for help. Since everyone has email right at their fingertips, there’s no reason not to ask questions and get help.
Grace’s mom Michelle is thankful her daughter has access to this kind of technology and can see the positive impact it’s having on her education. “Even when Grace was sick and missed school multiple days in a row, she was almost caught up by the time she returned!” Michelle explained.
When Grace arrives home from school, her science homework doesn’t require pencil and paper. Apps like Notability allow her to draw complex diagrams and pictures for questions where text doesn’t tell the full story. “I like having the flexibility to use apps and tools like this,” Grace said. “It means this technology isn’t compromising our learning, it’s enhancing it.”
At the end of the night, Grace is eager to see how she did on her English project from earlier in the week. With her tablet in hand, Grace can view her attendance record, grades and upcoming assignments right in the same Skyward interface. She can also get a look at the weeks and months ahead with the calendar view. It shows everything from the final exam schedule to her school-related sports practices, all in one place.
“This tool really increased our responsibility and access to information,” Grace explained. “We’re held accountable for our grades because we can get a look at how we’re doing through Skyward, but with tools like this, it’s not stressful. It’s so easy to do!”