With education moving towards a digital platform, many parents and teachers are wondering which mobile devices to buy and how it all works. This new educational world can be very confusing for those of us who are inexperienced with technology.
In the following weeks we will be answering these questions and look at providing you with all the information you need to make an informed decision when it comes to learning on your mobile device.
Choosing a tablet
This week we start with what to consider when choosing a tablet:
When it comes to learning from a mobile device such as a tablet, the range is quite extensive, from really cheap devices to the most expensive.. You might be tempted to just buy the cheapest on the market, but this may not be the best choice in the long term.
Money always plays a factor when buying a tablet, but bear in mind the following:
- cheap tablets often have a poorer battery life. You don’t want to keep having to charge it up, especially in the classroom.
- cheap tablets often have less memory and features than the more expensive models
- you will need to insure the device against damage or loss – factor in this cost.
- a cheap option can sometimes end up more expensive in the long run.
It is a good rule of thumb to buy the best tablet you can afford. It should last longer and have more features than a cheaper alternative.
Once you have decided on your budget, do your homework! Talk to friends and other parents about their choice of device. Read up on the different devices available on the Internet. Chat to the school, which may be able to give you some guidance.
Who will be using the tablet? Young children tend to need more robust devices with protective casings and covers. In our experience the cheaper devices when used everyday tend to not last past the year, and mid-range devices tend to last 2-3 years.
When reading on a tablet, we recommend a minimum screen size of 10”. The 7” screens make reading harder which might lead to a poorer learning experience.
Wireless connectivity (WiFi) is a must, this enables the user to connect the tablet to networks as well as the Internet. This allows you to download content on to the tablet. Most tablets come with built-in WiFi.
3G is not required in most cases, however if you do need to be connected while out of reach of a WiFi network, or don’t have a reliable internet connection you might want to consider this option. 3G will incur mobile data charges as it uses a mobile network.
Storage capacity refers to how much can be stored on a tablet. Storage is usually measured in Gigabytes and Megabytes.
A Gigabyte (Gb) consists of 1024 Mb (Megabytes).
As typically enhanced school books can consist of a couple of hundred Mb per book, we would recommend buying a tablet with 8 Gb minimum storage with an additional 8Gb SD card (make sure the tablet has the ability to take an SD card if smaller than 16Gb). 16GB of storage should be more than enough for educational purposes.
Typically a school child will be using the device for up to 8 hours while learning. Make sure that the tablet has a battery life of at least this time. The longer the battery life, the better, because children often forget to charge their tablets!
Most tablets come with a built-in camera, but this is not essential, and shouldn’t be a major consideration when choosing a tablet. However, cameras are fun for children and could add to the learning experience by helping learners take photos for assignments and projects..
Choose wisely, and make sure that you get the best value for your money!