4 Ways to Leverage Tablets Beyond the Classroom May 6, 2015

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Routers on school buses to bring wifi to the poorest parts of the community. District wifi maps indicating free business hotspots throughout the community. Wifi kiosks in low income housing. With the explosion of digital learning over the past decade, school districts are starting to tackle access and connectivity issues, as well as providing anytime, anywhere learning experiences for kids. In today’s digital, interconnected world, it’s imperative that schools view learning as something that doesn’t start and stop with the school bells. Helping students take advantage of learning opportunities outside of the school walls isn’t just a nice gesture - it’s a responsibility that districts hold.With the introduction of tablets to the education market over the past several years, mobility and flexibility are two of the most commonly referenced benefits. In the convergence of school-tool-meets-home-device, tablets afford the opportunity for dynamic learning on the go, and the ability to curate, collaborate, create, and design, all outside of the classroom environment.  Here’s four ideas highlighting ways that tablets can be utilized as learning tools outside classroom walls.1. Take a Field Trip!When used properly, technology can break down walls and flatten the world for students. No longer does it take flying to Paris to view the Mona Lisa, or a dissection to see an animal’s insides. Tablets replicate many aspects of such experiences for students - putting the world in their fingertips. Although an excellent experience, few people would make the case that viewing these iconic symbols digitally would be identical to seeing them in person. When able to physically be onsite, tablets can help students document, capture, and elevate the learning experience. In seeing the vast potential in this area, schools are leveraging such out of the classroom experiences for their children.In this upcoming ISTE webinar on May 12th, this type of learning experience will be highlighted through Humboldt County Office of Education’s collaboration with the Sequoia Park Zoo. Together, they created a participatory Learning Lab using Samsung School.  Students take their tablets into the field to research the zoo’s unique ecosystem up close, and then return to the lab to share their findings on a large interactive display. In this engaging, free webinar, presenters will discuss the challenges they faced in implementing these unique programs and share best-practices for leveraging mobile technology to inspire student collaboration and engagement.2. Tell a Story! Write, Create, and Design!People love stories; especially children. Early on, children listen to their parents read, often developing the love of reading from an early age. Inside stories, children can learning to be anybody, do anything, and learn how to dream.  Stories bring out creativity and take children to a world far away, and for some, it’s an escape from reality. With the utilization of tablets, simply reading stories, or being read to, is only the beginning. Such devices allow students to create and design their own stories. Children can write, draw, animate, narrate, and share their creation with the world! Today’s children aren’t simply listening to stories on the couch. They’re creating stories for the world to hear, and doing so through handheld technology.3. Play!One common education debate in the past few years has been the loss of play through a more structured, academically-focused school day. Critics point to the needed social aspects of learning through play with others; a research verified learning method. Technology enables such types of play.  Check out Lexington School District Two, whose interactive 1:1 learning initiative has put technology in the hand of 5,000 students in both flipped and blended classrooms.  The district recently hosted a Math Bowl competition utilizing tablets and Samsung’s interactive learning platform. Although running outside and soaking in the sun isn’t something that can be replicated, tablets can afford students incredible gaming and play opportunities - and at it’s best, collaborative play with others anywhere in the world.4. Augment the Reality of Learning!In recent years, the ability for tablets to bring learning to life has grown exponentially. The concept of augmented reality (AR) has been around for almost 60 years, but it wasn’t until recently that the ability to alter the perceptions of what’s being seen and do so in a cost efficient way was possible. Today’s children are able to utilize a variety of apps and tools to bring images to life and experience learning in a digital world - from any location that they choose. The ability to create such opportunities themselves elevates the experience even further. As these digital tools and resources become more plentiful, schools should work to provide such out of classroom experiences for students and help families discover these types of experiences themselves. Tablets afford the opportunity for such anytime, anywhere learning to become a reality."Disclosure of Material Connection: This post is sponsored by Samsung Business. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”