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Childhood in the digital age
Childhood in the digital age

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2.3 Tablets and apps in Malawi

Described image
Figure 5 Tablet computers are particularly easy to use for all ages

The following video focuses on an initiative from the charity One Billion, which uses an app provided on tablet devices to support the poor maths abilities of primary school schildren in Malawi, where pupils’ access to resources like teachers, computers or tablet devices is necessarily very limited.

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The findings are quite remarkable, showing an accelerated improvement in maths performance despite the constraints. Professor Nicola Pitchford from the University of Nottingham has taken the initiative one step further, and provided the same app and access to a cohort of children in the UK.

As the video suggests, the use of apps can have a significant effect on children’s learning, and this study is a clear example of how new digital devices and educational applications can help transform the lives of many children both in the UK and abroad by improving their educational experiences and success.

Activity 1

Following on from the explanations and examples, think about the following questions and make notes on your views.

  • Do you think children can really speed up their own learning with the use of digital technology and limited teacher input?
  • Could the same set of skills be achieved with a carefully designed piece of technology alone and no teacher input?
  • What do you think teachers can bring to children’s learning and development that computers and other technology cannot?