The use of tablets in education: cons

ipad-educationI have a tablet and a laptop. I use my tablet to browse the web, watch video’s, play a game, use social media, read mails and give short replies to mails. But not for being productive. When I want to write texts, create, design or develop, I use my laptop. A tablet seems to be a “search and watch“-device and not a “write, create and work“-device.

Therefor, I have serious thoughts about the use of tablets in education.

According to my opinion a tablet can’t replace a laptop or desktop for a few reasons. A list of disadvantages:

Unless students bring their own device (BYOD, (Thomson, 2012)), a tablet is more expensive than books.

It is difficult to create or develop on a tablet because of a few reasons:

  • Impossible to install specific software, which makes it impossible to develop or program software, tools or websites.
  • The screen isn’t large enough for creative work like manipulating and editing of photos.
  • There is lack of memory because of the very small internal memory. On an iPad it’s even impossible to connect your memory stick by usb. Transferring data requires iTunes.
  • Slow text editing. For lack of a mouse, it’s impossible to place the cursor. It’s impossible for fast editing of typos. It’s also not so easy to type some symbols or characters.

On the other hand the lack of physical keyboard is a major problem.

  • No feel for keys and slow visual checks. Because you don’t feel key boundaries while typing, it’s impossible to type blind and watch the screen while typing. This results in slow visual checks.
  • Research comparing touch screen with physical keyboards goes back over 20 years has consistently shown that touch screens produce slower and less accurate performance when compared with physical keyboards (Barrett and Krueger, 1994).
  • Wigdor (2007) claims that “Touchscreen may even alter style of expression”. This is a worrying fact, because students will limit their sentences to the minimum and lose the richness of vocabulary.

Conclusion: a tablet is for content consumption, laptops for content creation. I don’t want to claim tablets don’t have any use for education, but they can’t replace desktops or laptops.


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