Fast-acting tablets provide instant relief

Many children are using tablets at home, accessing apps for entertainment. But what can they offer in the classroom to help children access the curriculum?

Springwood Heath Primary School in Liverpool is a merger between a former special school and a primary school. It supports children who have severe physical and medical needs from all parts of the city.

The staff were keen to see if tablet devices could offer greater support to their young learners with physical disabilities so they trialled Toshiba AT100 tablets. The devices switch on and load up very fast so there are none of those annoying time lags while the LSA is distracted by the technology and the child is distracted by what the rest of the class is doing. Tablets are light and easy to take from class to class, and they are attractive devices which many use outside school - children do not feel they are marked out as having special needs

Steven is a pupil in year 3 who has coordination difficulties. He struggles with handwriting and needs to use a word processor for any written work. He had been using a laptop in some lessons and a portable word processor in others, but each had its own problems.

He found that the size of the tablet screen made a real difference to what he could do. With the portable word processor he could only see a few lines at a time and had to keep scrolling back. With the tablet he could see all his writing on screen at once, which made it easier to keep track. He could see the question at the top of the page then check to see how much he had written.

Despite his coordination difficulties, Steven had no problems using the on-screen keyboard. While children like Steven do not use pen and paper effectively, touch technology comes close to replicating the experience and works well for those who are kinaesthetic learners. In addition they can change the font, text and background colours and personalise their writing surface which is not possible with a piece of paper

Steven could participate in online activities so he could do exactly the same work as his classmates. He was also able to print his work independently, whereas before he had to take the portable word processor to the printer and there was often a long delay between composing and reading back the whole text.

And the school's verdict? "Easy to use, new, motivating and exciting.”

toshiba

Advantages

• The Toshiba tablet is lightweight and portable

• It has a USB port it is simple to connect accessories, such as an external keyboard

• It can be used for a range of communication activities

• The tablet's batteries will run for a full day

• Children found the touch element of the technology very appealing

• The quick start up keeps children focused

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