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Give children tablets to conquer the “digital divide”



(Picture by Robert Scoble)

Tablet computers, such as the iPad, can be used to created greater engagement with pupils (Picture by Robert Scoble)

SCOTS school children should be given high tech tablet computers to ensure poor students aren’t left behind.

ScotlandIS, the trade body for the IT industry, believes a “digital divide” is opening up between children from different financial backgrounds.

It called for tablet computers costing as little as £60 to be handed out for use in class.

The technology has already been introduced at the private Cedars School of Excellence in Greenock, with every pupil being able to lease a top-of-the-range iPad and Aberdeen council is looking at introducing tablets and smartphones into teaching.

Polly Purvis, the executive director at ScotlandIS, said tablets could be introduced in stages, with parents potentially being asked to contribute to the cost.

She said: “Realistically you have to start somewhere, and that could be gradually, introducing them year by year.

“Teachers would have to be trained up to use them as well. For a number of reasons it would not be appropriate to have iPads as standard because they are very expensive. There are other devices out there, and we need to be realistic about this – it needs to be at a cost schools can bear, as clearly they are strapped for cash.”

Quality

Purvis said there was a “digital divide” opening up in society between those who have access to computers and the internet and those who do not.

She said: “It’s worrying, particularly at the moment when the government is rolling out digital infrastructure. We don’t want young people to become disadvantaged in any way.

“There are currently subjects like home economics where parents are asked to contribute towards the cost of materials. In many cases parents would need to contribute where they could.”

The technology has already been introduced at the private Cedars School of Excellence in Greenock, with every pupil being able to lease a top-of-the-range iPad and Aberdeen council is looking at introducing tablets and smartphones into teaching.

Fraser Speirs, head of computing and IT at the Cedars School of Excellence said pupils used their iPad for everything from art classes to science experiments, and were leased at a cost of £12.50 a month.

He said: “We introduced the iPad into lessons in August 2010, so we are now in our second year. To the best of my knowledge, we were the first school in the world to go one-to-one with iPads.

“Every pupil in the school has an iPad which they treat as their own and which goes to lessons with them. We’re quite a small school so any statistical analysis is difficult to do, but what we have seen is a much greater engagement in the classroom.”

But he questioned the cost-effectiveness of opting for cheaper tablet computers.

He said: “The Chinese and Indian governments are making tablets for $100 (£63) but do they have the same quality of software? I also think the size of the screen is important, and anything smaller than an iPad would be difficult to use. Smaller is not always better. You also have to remember that devices get superceded and cheaper devices are cheaper for a reason.”

A Scottish Government spokesman said it was up to local authorities to decide how to introduce technology into their schools.

He said: “The Scottish Government, alongside the education community, is currently considering how best to maximise the use of technology across Scottish schools.”

Short URL: http://www.deadlinenews.co.uk/?p=43325

Posted by on Feb 12 2012. Filed under Scottish News, Top Stories. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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