This Christmas, parents across the UK expect to spend over £200m to buy nearly one million new iPads and tablet computers for their primary and secondary school-aged children.
Since 26% of this techno-savvy age group already own an iPad or tablet, they will then own more than three million iPads and tablets between them. When they go back to school in January, many will be taking these devices with them.
However, just one in five (22%) schools currently permit pupils to connect their iPads and tablets to the school’s own wireless network. This discrepancy suggests that the majority of schools are either not prepared for, or risk missing out on, a tremendous digital learning opportunity.
These were the key findings of a survey of 900 parents through Mumsnet’s research panel, by Wi-Fi network company Extreme Networks. The survey was designed to give schools a better understanding of the impact and adoption of pupil-owned iPads and tablets in the classroom, and whether schools were ready, willing and able to take advantage of the learning opportunity these devices offer.
The Mumsnet panel/Extreme survey findings are supported by another recent study, this time by the British Educational Suppliers Association (Besa), which found that just a quarter of schools in England offer fully accessible Wi-Fi to pupils.
According to Valerie Thompson of the e-learning foundation: “Fully accessible Wi-Fi is vital to a 21st century learning environment and is a key requirement if schools are to embrace digital learning in all subjects. Many parents are considering investing in a tablet for use in the school environment as well as at home. Their expectation is that the investment in technology will be beneficial to their child’s education.”
Spotting the trend for pupils bringing their own devices onto school premises, The Grammar School at Leeds is determined to enable children to be able to harness their own technology for learning purposes both at home and in the classroom.
Mark Whitehead, head of computer services at The Grammar School at Leeds, said: “We expect a bumper crop of iPads and tablets in children’s stockings this Christmas. We’re working hard this year to ensure our Wi-Fi infrastructure is up to the task of supporting them in 2014. We have revamped our entire Wi-Fi system so that our 2,100 pupils and over 400 staff can now log-on to the network from anywhere across the school’s multiple sites, even at busy times.”
Whitehead added, “Children now own such advanced technology and have equally advanced computing skills. If schools aren’t able to harness this, the opportunity for an enhanced learning experience is lost.”
The E-Learning Foundation’s research and campaigns can be found here: https://www.e-learningfoundation.com/evidence.