With the increased deployment of tablet devices in the primary classroom, Caldwell and Bird aim to provide much-needed direction and a range of practical ideas on how these technologies can be used to transform teaching and learning. In this text, Caldwell and Bird's own expertise is complemented by contributions from several experienced school-based computing leaders, academics and specialists.
Teaching with tablets is a well-researched text and makes reference to a number of tried and tested tablet applications. As is the case with other titles in the Learning Matters series, each chapter is clearly structured with defined aims, links to the Teachers' Standards (Department for Education (DfE), 2013), the National Curriculum (DfE, 2013), detailed case studies, short activities, ideas for further reading and useful links. Links to theory are strong throughout each chapter, providing secure grounding for the teaching approaches under discussion and maintaining a firm focus on the transformative potential of technology.
The case studies are particularly useful in providing practical examples of how tablets have been used in different settings and subject areas, along with explanations of the pedagogical approaches which have been deployed. The use of these practice-based case studies provides valuable contexts to support any trainee teacher, in-service teacher or subject leader looking to develop their use of tablet devices in the classroom. In addition to the case studies, each chapter also provides a list of suitable tablet applications which can be utilised to support the teaching and learning approaches under discussion. It is noteworthy that there is no specific platform bias and many of the tablet applications discussed are available on various operating systems and devices. Whilst this book does not set out to provide masterclass tutorials in the use of specific tablet applications, it certainly provides a strong rationale and detailed examples which would spark sufficient interest amongst readers to explore the applications further.
The content of the book covers various broad themes, including manipulating media, digital storytelling, talk and collaboration, using technology outdoors, computer science and the use of iPads in the early years. In addition to the specific content focus of each chapter, there are additional links made to areas such as assessment, differentiation, e-safety and pupil-led learning, where deemed relevant. The book provides many practical examples across a range of different subject areas and teaching and learning approaches. Whereas traditionally, similar texts may be broken down into subject-specific chapters, the approach taken here is more holistic and theme-based, which is appropriate due to the flexibility of the tools under discussion and provides an emphasis on transferable skills. Whilst the index certainly suffices for anyone looking for subject-specific content, some readers may still be appreciative of a curriculum map to navigate to subject-based ideas.
The authors recognise that whilst many schools have purchased tablet devices, they are not necessarily being used to optimize or transform teaching and learning. With this in mind, it is somewhat surprising that the text does not delve deeper into discussions around implementation issues, such as multiple device management, content sharing and information technology infrastructure in schools. Nevertheless, the text is highly accessible and technical vocabulary is clearly explained throughout. Despite the obvious focus on technology, all ideas outlined in the text are undoubtedly examples of high-quality teaching and learning which will appeal to many teachers. In summary, this timely book would be valuable for any new or experienced teacher looking to develop their understanding and use of tablet technology in a meaningful manner.
Review by Gurmit Uppal (2016) ‘Teaching with Tablets’ Research in Teacher Education, Vol 6(No.1). 45-47.