Do you have a kid approaching middle school age? Chances are your child has already done some school projects using the family computer. He’s had to research the Web, or type and print out a report. Now you may be considering the purchase of another device to support his needs as he heads into tween hood, high school and beyond. What is best – a laptop or a tablet? What device will be more advantageous for schoolwork, and also support the social networking and game playing that kids will inevitably want to do?
Technology Use in Schools Here are some examples of how kids are using technology in schools. Online and visual learning: Many teachers have incorporated videos of lessons into their plan, either of themselves teaching the lesson, or from an outside source. Often, watching an assigned video is part of the homework. Practicing skills: Playing math games are a fun way for kids to practice skills or math facts. Students also practice test taking or other skills with online games. Researching topics: At an early age, schoolchildren start using the Internet to find information about topics they are learning about.
The average young student knows all about Wikipedia, which has all but replaced the encyclopedias we used to use. Reading: Textbooks and literature are becoming more available in e-book format. This reduces the need for students to lug heavy books to and fro. Producing content: Students have become accustomed to using computers for typing and printing traditional papers and reports. In addition, technology makes it easier to create more involved projects, such as slideshows or Power Point presentations, or videos.
Many classrooms post their own content in a class website, showing what they’ve learned. Taking and submitting tests: teachers can administer online tests. At our school, band students can videotape and post music performances online which the teacher watches and grades at his convenience. This frees up time for both student and teacher. Doing homework together: using Skype or Facetime, kids can collaborate with each other.
Communicating and networking: Almost every school has a website now. Teachers use sites like Schoolrack.com to communicate to students and parents what is going on in the classroom. They post homework assignments and classroom news on these sites. Our schools use Zangle.com to post grades throughout the year so families can stay on top of their students’ status. School groups (like band) often use a social media site like Facebook to communicate to all group members and their parents.
Extracurricular activities You can count on kids wanting to use their device for some popular extracurricular activities – social networking, gaming, and possibly blogging. Social networking: A parent can only manage to hold the kids off from joining Facebook or Twitter for so long. Each of the social networking sites at this time offers free and easy access whether you are on a laptop, tablet or mobile phone.
However, sometimes the mobile or tablet app is more difficult to navigate than the full version due to the limited display area. Gaming: The gaming habits of your child may be a more decisive factor in choosing a device. Will you want permit them to use the device for games? Even if you had been strict about video games when they were young, as they get older they will want more freedom to play games like their peers are playing.
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