Five Smart Ways to Deploy Tablets: Harvard Education Letter

The overarching goal was to increase students’ and teachers’ productivity and efficiency. “What we were looking for was portability, communication, and transfer of written material back and forth in a pretty seamless and easy way,” says Roslyn Superintendent Daniel Brenner. “Our vision of tablets is as a utility tool.” — via Harvard Education Letter.

Interesting read. I especially agree with the final two points in the article, “Prepare and Empower Teachers” and “Focus on Changing Classroom Practices” … what I find compelling is that I had this very conversation at today’s our University SteerCo. meeting when the question of if deploying tablets to students is a good idea.

My response was, “it depends.” If you can provide layers of pedagogical support, align curricular tasks, and provide solid faculty development you can be measurably successful. I also feel it is easier to go all the way with deployments like this — if you could outfit a campus, I feel it would be easier to challenge the status quo and truly move the needle. If everyone is in the same boat, the goal has to include finding real value in issuing the devices — faculty creating and offering digital texts, tablets being used as active tools during class, specialized apps selected to provide access to content, simulations, and collaboration, and so more. The only way, IMHO, to do something like this well is to take a systems approach and address all parts of the value chain. At the end of the day, this has to be part of the goal …

Successful tablet deployments are connected to broader efforts and motivate concrete changes in classroom instruction, educators note. Helping teachers change the way they teach is crucial, and won’t happen quickly or on its own.