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Childhood in the digital age
Childhood in the digital age

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3 Tablets and apps in schools and pre-schools

Tablet computers might provide some of the devices that help a ‘flipped classroom’ operate effectively. Since their first appearance in 2010, tablet devices have been praised for their potential to enhance education, especially with young children. Yet there is still some ambivalence. While some educators enthusiastically embrace new media such as tablets for learning (e.g. Galloway, 2009), others argue that they have no place in young children’s lives (House, 2012).

Yet, it is young children in particular who find tablets user-friendly and appealing. Research has found that their design presents very few technical challenges for young children, who quickly become enthusiastic and competent users (Lynch and Redpath, 2014).

The fusion of several technologies in tablet devices was seen by the researchers as creating a new ‘digital playground’ for children. Tablets have become increasingly portable, affordable and efficient, and they are specifically designed to accommodate a number of apps, many of which have a child-friendly, intuitive design for learning. For example, Neumann and Neumann (2013) describe tablets as tools for supporting reading and writing, with apps for alphabet matching, phonics games and stories.

In reality, the true potential of using tablets for educational learning remains largely untapped in many educational settings. As with all technologies, it is important to separate evidence and assumptions, as you can read in this article ‘iPads in early education: separating assumptions and evidence’ [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] .