Tablets may revolutionize America's classrooms

The days of lugging around backpacks filled with heavy textbooks may soon be gone. As American schools continually look for innovative ways to incorporate technology into the classroom to improve personalized learning, touch-screen tablets are taking a central role.

“We must use technology to empower teachers and improve the way students learn,” Joel Klein, a former New York City schools’ chief and current leader of News Corp.’s education tablet program, told The Associated Press. “At its best, education technology will change the face of education by helping teachers manage the classroom and personalize instruction.”

Tablets are becoming a common sight in classrooms around the world. In Beijing, the government is piloting a program that will replace all paper textbooks with e-books, Education News reported, with the ultimate goal of providing every student with a tablet.

A similar effort has been undertaken in Los Angeles, where $50 million has already been allocated to begin the process of buying tablets for every student, according to the AP. Small school districts are also making the shift: In Austin, Texas, the Eanes Independent School District has already provided each of its 2,000 students with a tablet.

Educators and administrators are finding multiple benefits from the use of tablets in the classroom. Not only do they save school districts money in the long run, but they also provide numerous benefits for the students.

Tablets are portable and interactive, and can be constantly updated. They also keep students engaged and make individualized learning possible through the use of video, photo galleries and games.

“If you have a tablet-based approach, you can get a whole lot smarter a whole lot quicker,” Klein told USA Today.
As the newest generation enters elementary school, it’s likely that technology will play an increasingly central role in the classroom because students find tablets to be so intuitive. They are “digital natives,” a term coined by education and technology writer Marc Prensky: These students are among the first generation to grow up with digital technology at their fingertips.

Taking this technology out of the home and into the classroom will create opportunities for teachers to personalize learning for individual students like never before. Tablets enable teachers to tailor curricula to each individual student and engage them in the learning process. And for students, using digital technology is simply second nature.