Schools ‘appy’ to take up tablet technology

The British Educational Suppliers Association (BESA) releases ‘Future of tablets and apps in schools’ research.

The unprecedented growth rate of tablet computers in corporate and consumer markets is spreading steadily to schools, according to new research from BESA.

The research published today indicates that 6 per cent of all pupil-facing computers in schools will be tablets by the end of 2012 (4.5 per cent in primary, 6.9 per cent in secondary). The schools surveyed, forecast that by the end of 2015 the percentage of tablets will have risen to 22 per cent of all pupil-facing computers. Unsurprisingly, 82% of all teachers also say that their pupils have an interest in using tablets.

The headline findings of the survey of 500 UK schools (190 primary, 310 secondary), conducted in May 2012, found that the majority of schools are adopting a research-driven approach to tablet take-up, and want more evidence before supporting the adoption of tablets in the classroom (72 per cent). There is also a strong recognition at both primary and secondary level of pupil interest in apps, though with a degree of industry caution about the need for greater convergence of operating systems.

Caroline Wright, BESA director, said; “this is a very exciting time for schools and educational technology providers. We see that, in the absence of DfE directives, schools are becoming increasingly savvy in their ICT procurement and also taking their time to make the right decisions for their pupils based on research evidence, financial and educational value-for-money considerations. Schools increasingly support the view that they need to consider ways to integrate the technology and learning that pupils‟ experience inside the classroom with their use of IT outside school.

“This research also raises questions about the models of provision that we may see in the future. Though beyond the scope of the research this year, does the trend of the reducing cost of tablets raise the potential for tablets to become a pupil-provided item with the school responsibility being the integration of the personal device and some provision of the content and apps?”

BESA‟s findings come from a survey into the „Future of tablets and apps in schools‟. This research, carried out in conjunction with the National Education Research Panel (NERP), provides analysis into the current adoption of tablet PCs and apps in schools and gives insight into their future use.

The research also highlighted the fact that 61 per cent of primary schools and 39 per cent of secondary schools still feel it is important or very important to wait for the government to support adoption. This comes despite two years of government policy giving schools the freedom and autonomy to choose the ICT tools and resources appropriate to meeting their specific needs.
Among the report‟s other key findings, 66 per cent of primary schools and 70 per cent of secondary schools stated that they have an awareness of apps being used in the classroom. Schools also reported that significant or very significant barriers to adoption included funding constraints (82 per cent), concerns about the management and security of tablets (85 per cent), the value and portability risks (73 per cent) and initial installation and payment for apps (71 per cent).

Ms Wright added; “teachers of the future must receive initial teacher training that equips them with the IT know-how to allow them to unleash the full learning potential of tablets and educational apps in the classroom. The growing desire of schools to understand these educational benefits underlines the increasingly important role that the Bett Show plays in showcasing the wide range of educational technology devices, platforms and software available within the UK. As well as providing valuable professional development opportunities for teachers the show can also help schools get the best value for money out of their ICT spend by trying and testing new products in an informative and supportive environment. With BETT moving in 2013 to ExCel there will be more space and facilities for CPD seminars and more convenient dates of 29 January to 1 February.”

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