Student-tablet’s road to success
In 2002, HABOOK group's Dr. Sams Wang announced the research finding of his e-student-backpack R&D project at the Taipei Municipal Nan-Hu Elementary School for the first time and caused quite a stir. The media mostly focused on the claims that student-tablets would reduce the weight of students’ backpacks but talked less about the variety of applications and value of student-tablet in educational environments. Nevertheless, it still successfully attracted attention from the educational and technological sectors to this brand new field. Over the past decade, many related application projects of various sizes of mobile device have been announced worldwide, such as the most famous One Laptop per Child (OLPC) project of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), which later evolved to become the consumer electronics product of netbook.
5R for student-tablet success
Firstly, it must be realized that although the student-tablet’s role as a learning aid is a major focus of its applications, the key to its success does not lie in the role itself, because no end users will be willing to commit to long-term use of a device that is not convenient to operate. Apart from its role of being a learning aid, what are the elements of success? The key lies in 5Rs – Reading, Research, Response, Report and Remediation. The chart below shows the corresponding roles of student-tablet’s 5Rs in the three stages of learning.
Reading is an important part of the learning activities and an student-tablet’s basic functions are able to support reading in different e-book formats, including static texts and pictures and dynamic audio, animation and movie files. At the same time, it can provide related tools for students to mark, copy and paste the content to facilitate integration of one’s learning record during reading.
A well-known e-book reader vendor has cooperated with many U.S. schools to let students carry e-book readers with pre-loaded textbooks to class. But in most of the cases the project has ended without success after being tried out for a certain period time. The problem is the e-book reader was originally designed with an aim to replace the traditional books. In order to simulate the use of paper, the device came with a power-saving design to allow long-term reading. As a result, the device was only supported the static reading format and unable to fulfill the e-Generation’s needs.
Teachers in the modern classroom often require students to gather information and write reports in various project-based, theme-based, inquiry-based or problem-based modes of learning. In the Internet era, conducting these learning activities means the need to have access to the Internet because the rich databases on the Internet are essential resources for an education designed to develop higher order thinking skills. The student-tablet’s support for such learning activities must include, apart from the Internet searches, it has also included tools for such functions as data analysis and sorting, photo taking, video and voice recording, text editing and group working to facilitate individual and group learning.
Communication and interaction are the most important part of the teaching activities. Whether it is communication between students and teachers or among students themselves, it is a key element promoting learning. In particular, students and teachers with an interactive communication that can break down traditional barriers presented through the one-size-fits-all approach, and as well as enliven the classroom atmosphere which increase students’ learning interest and participation in class. It has already been confirmed by many research findings on the interactive response system.
The student-tablet’s data is all transmitted via network. It has the characteristics of real time and multi-interaction to let students and teachers deliver necessary data instantly. And after proper processing (e.g making tables and charts automatically by the system), it will be useful information for learning. For instance, during the teaching process, the teacher can interspersed brief questions to explore the understanding level of the students which serves as a reference for adjusting teaching in pace. Another example is that after answering properly designed conceptual questions, students can be motivated into doing follow-up in-depth discussions or divided into discussion groups in the form of collaboration learning. This can deepen their understanding of the conceptual knowledge. In addition, feedback is the best assistance for formative assessment. Through brief but frequent small-scale tests, teachers can establish students’ learning portfolios to assist them analyze individual students’ learning capabilities. It can Increase efficiency and enhance learning.
student's response and statistic
Test results from every in-class evaluation activity can be used to conduct diagnoses for teaching and learning from multiple angles. In addition to serving as a reference for the teacher to improve teaching, as well as the test results can be sent to a student’s student-tablet in the form of a learning diagnosis report. It is with detailed listing of data such as: the student’s response to each question; the percentile rank indicates the student's standing relative to other students in the norming group; the mapping on their achievements and percentile ranks in terms of specific key concepts tested; and suggested remediation materials. As the diagram below shows the student in a math exam had slightly worse performance compared to the average in the class in three key concepts – Graph of Functions, Axial Symmetry, and Factorization. Their other key concepts all achieved above-average performance. Therefore, they would only need to strengthen the learning for the three key concepts to effectively improve their performance no need to repeat studying all materials.
The diagnosis report can be read directly using the student-tablet. Successive diagnosis reports can be accessed at the same time for making a comparative analysis of a student’s learning capabilities and help them accurately understand their strengths and weaknesses, and use it as a basis for adjusting learning in the future.
After going through the processes of classroom learning, assessment and diagnosis, students can understand the extent of their understanding of the content in a class through diagnosis reports, and they can conduct necessary remediation for the specific part to complete the full learning process. The materials for remediation can be directly linked from the diagnosis reports, allowing students directly work on their student-tablets. The materials for remediation are mainly from live video recordings of teaching in class, online supplementary learning materials or materials prepared by the teacher. After finishing the learning process for remediation, students can straight away complete the assessment tests assigned by the teacher on their student-tablets, which allows the teacher to keep track of the progress of the students’ self remediation.
The e-student-backpack refers to an electronic device that features the function of a traditional backpack (for storing books, homework, pencil cases, projects, etc). Moreover, providing the functionalities of the traditional backpack, the device also must provide assistance for teaching and learning to live up to a name that combines “electronic” and “backpack.” It would be wrong to see the student-tablet from the perspective of technology. Technology evolves so fast, but education focuses on stability. A blind pursuit of computing performance, memory capacity and cloud computing services would result in a loss of direction in the development of student-tablets. The student-tablet is a vehicle in students’ learning process in the future classroom and it is also a medium between teachers and students interact. It is also a completed and sophisticated platform to assist students learning. Only with due recognition of the 5Rs let student-tablet successfully play its proper role in the future of teaching and learning.