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Phoenix Forward

5 ways teachers can use tablets in the classroom

5 ways teachers can use tablets in the classroom

Educators are increasingly discovering imaginative ways to use the iPad® and other handheld tablets in the classroom, says Kathy Cook, director of educational technology for the University of Phoenix College of Education.

“IPads can be used effectively in the classroom as a textbook and document viewer, as well as a productivity, note-taking and administrative tool,” adds Cook, a former Arizona public school teacher who currently serves as an instructor of education programs. “They help tear down classroom walls and allow students to broaden their learning opportunities."

There are many ways in which educators can turn the popular device from Apple into a classroom tool to boost student interest, motivation and productivity, including these five uses:

Help students become global learners

1. Help students become global learners.

Video conferencing capabilities through FaceTime® and other apps allow students to connect with people throughout the global learning community, Cook says. “For example, if a student is conducting a scientific report,” she notes, “the student might reach out and conduct a short interview with a scientist.”

2. Make every instructional minute count.

Educators can use tablets to maximize instruction during potentially wasted transitions, such as those last five minutes before lunch, Cook advises. Teachers and administrators can increase learning time by encouraging students to use the devices to study on their own. Students might choose to read, practice grammar or math skills, or use educational apps, she suggests.

3. Incorporate tablets into learning areas.

The size and durability of these tablets make them ideal devices for younger students to use while rotating through their learning groups, Cook says. While the teacher is sitting with a small reading group, for example, other students can deepen their comprehension of specific concepts by using tablet devices strategically located at learning areas elsewhere in the classroom. They might work collaboratively on an activity, such as creating a mind map, or play an educational game together or independently.

4. Create opportunities for students to generate content.

"IPads really offer endless options in terms of content creation,” says Cook, who is also pursuing her doctorate in educational leadership with a specialization in education technology at University of Phoenix. Making original content is perfect for project-based learning, she adds, pointing out that students can use the camera on the device to capture images and videos, and the writing capabilities to create various projects. The device’s video-mirroring capabilities even allow students to project their work on a screen, large monitor or interactive whiteboard.

5. Use it as an adaptive technology tool.

Multiple touch functions combined with various apps allow educators to tailor instruction for students with special needs or language barriers. Some special needs students, especially those with autism, seem to better demonstrate their comprehension through various writing-translation apps, Cook observes, while non-English-speaking students and their instructors can communicate better using visual aids as translators. “Students whom educators had difficulties reaching before,” Cook says, “are making huge gains using the iPad."

Related: 50 resources for iPad use in the classroom

iPad and FaceTime are trademarks of Apple Inc., registered in the U.S. and other countries.