By: Dr. Dale McManis, PhD, Research Director at Hatch Early Learning
What are the real differences between the iPad and tablets loaded with appropriate software applications for early education, like theiStartSmart® Mobile by Hatch? Do these differences really matter when you are choosing a tablet for kids to use in your classrooms? The answer depends on the age of the children, how the tablets will be used and your long-term goals.
An iPad might be a good fit if you are shopping for tablets for older children who can read and have more fully developed fine motor and reasoning abilities. Typically developing children in the early childhood period ( ages 3 to 8 ) are better served by tablet technology that includes applications to develop school readiness and early school success skills; content created with critical developmental stages in mind. The new position statement from the National Association for the Education of Young Children and the Fred Rogers Center for Early Learning and Children’s Media on the role of technology in early learning stresses the importance of choosing research-based, age-appropriate technology to create and monitor individual learning goals for young children.
Many teachers are using iPads incorrectly and inappropriately, simply filling free time with a random assortment of downloaded, disconnected apps; and thereby creating an arcade-style learning environment that can result in cognitive and sensory overload and confusion for young children. Mobile technology created for early learners can complement classroom instruction when it uses research-based applications to teach early math and literacy skills in an individualized, intentional learning environment. Basically, if you are more focused on quantity rather than quality, then iPads are the way to go. You need to decide first though, if you are looking for a tool or a toy.
Envision integrating mobile technology into 21st Century Classrooms to change the way your teachers teach and your learners learn, transforming how your school or center operates. If you are interested in investing in tablets that will teach and reinforce school readiness skills and early schooling success, facilitate seamless intervention and scientifically (meaning accurately, carefully and dependably) capture individual progress monitoring data across an entire institution in real-time, you need to start looking at mobile tablets created especially for education.
Below is a comparison chart between the Apple iPad and the Hatch iStartSmart® Mobile tablet, pre-loaded with application software developed specifically for early learning classrooms.
Check back this Thursday, March 29 to read the second blog in this series, Top 15 Critical Questions You Should Answer before You Buy Tablet Technology for Your Early Learning Classrooms.