Tablets Doing Well in Schools and Prisons, But Failing in College

In schools and prisons, tablets are driving education and paving innovative ways for students of all ages to learn. However, in higher education institutions, tablets are lagging.

In the school system, teachers can do away with textbooks or make the academic day longer with videos due to the fact that all of their pupils received a school-issued iPad.

 One on one computing, in which all children get a computer for Internet access and digital learning, started with laptops more than 10 years ago in schools, writes Michael Alison Chandler for The Washington Post. However, school computing has grown in recent years with school issued, inexpensive tablets. American schools will be buying 3.5 million tablets nationwide by the end of this year, say some industry analysts. This will provide children with access to a plethora of technological education tools. Over the past year, K-12 funding of tablet programs has grown by 60%.

In the prison sector, Jail Education Solutions (JES) wants to provide prisoners tablets that would only have certain educational programs on them, reports Christina Quinn for WGBH. This would take away their ability to roam the Internet. However, they would be able receive their GEDs and college credit. They also could get legal information, search through career options and participate in anger management classes.

"I think it's something everyone wants to do and when you talk to them individually, they all know that that's what needs to happen," Hill said."

The main idea is that prisoners get an education so that they are less likely to return to prison. It will help inmates with their reentry into society.

"Because we're using a platform that is integrated online, it allows them to continue that and allows probation and parole officers to communicate with them," Hill said.

JES will soon provide 2,000 tablets in the nation's six largest prisons and taxpayers will not be the ones paying.

"Inmates will rent the device for $1 to $2 a day," Hill said. "We're trying to build in tools where inmates can earn the tablet."

The inmates will work for an hour or two a week in exchange for their tablet rental. They can also accrue points that can they can spend to watch movies and other entertainment.

In colleges, however, tablets are failing to provide the needed educational support and tools, writes Derrik Wlodarz for BetaNews. Few students actually used their tablet for a class-related activity. Some students try to take typed notes on their tablet, but keeping up with the class in this manner is hard. Tablets in colleges are good for digital textbooks and Internet research, but lack the tools needed for complex college projects such as Powerpoint and word processing. The keyboard is small, making typing hard.

Advertising professor and director of the above institute, Michael Hanley, called tablets out. "Tablets are for entertainment purposes, not for writing papers and doing class projects – key components of higher education."

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