Each to their own

Students can set their own personalised learning targets with a tablet, says Helen Bradford-Keegan

What would you say are the three biggest benefits of implementing 1:1 tablets schemes in schools?

Flipped learning: 1-1 schemes means that students have personal control of their learning via the iPad and can, therefore, respond to tasks at an individual pace, setting personalised learning targets. This is a particularly advantageous outcome of the flipped learning model, which allows students to work through low-level information/knowledge learning prior to the lesson and then utilise the teacher’s expertise and peer learning strategies during classroom time.

Task redefinition: the most engaging tasks have been those that have utilised the iPad in a way that creates activities and learning tasks that previously would not have been possible without this technology. As a result students are accessing new learning not just in a different way but actually at a different level.

Collaborative combinations: The ways in which students can access learning through each other and through peers and experts outside the classroom is greatly enhanced by tablet technology. In this way students begin to see their learning as something which is not classroom based, or even school centred, but a process which will continue beyond these boundaries.

And what are the three main drawbacks?

Potential for distraction: there needs to be rigorous monitoring in place to counter the possibilities of wandering onto other sites etc.

Production capabilities: the iPad is excellent for viewing content but is only just beginning to develop better capability for content creation.

Expense: issues around purchase, leasing and faulty/damaged iPads bring a new level of expenditure into the school budget

When choosing the tablet model, are schools considering all the options available to them, or are they simply opting for the most popular? Do you think there is enough variety?

Our school’s decision to lease iPads rather than purchase was part of our strategy to ensure that we always had the maximum flexibility for moving forward to the best device. The iPad suits our needs most completely at this stage in terms of app range, quality and accessibility.

Security/e-safety has been a cause for concern in the past, what steps have we taken to reduce risk?

We take this very seriously. We use a Mobile Device Manager which allows us to filter the web and email on the iPad both within and outside school. We have created groups of students so that the MDM can allow different levels of access for different year groups of students.

Can every school realistically implement 1:1 tablet schemes, and do you think they will become a permanent fixture in our schools? 

As with any major enterprises this will be dependent on budget priorities. If a school commits to such a development, it must do so fully in terms of both teaching and learning and expenditure but with the flexibility to move forward as technology develops.

Helen Bradford-Keegan is Assistant Head at Bolton School.