With the revitalisation of my planning and marking (largely thanks to chunking lessons based on clear criteria ), my thoughts have turned to how a classroom might look if all students had easy and regular access to latops and/or tablets.

Here are some pointers after a few years of being to use such hardware:

1) Handwriting is an essential skill, and will always be needed. A student that only uses a laptop without any paper equivalent is missing out on entitlement. In addition, not every person works well on a computer screen in comparison to the tactile manipulation of pen and paper. 

2) Storing notes and work digitally to build up a portfolio of work is a wonderful thing. However, every person needs something tangible in front of them at times. Otherwise, then the computer is turned off, the work (for some) seems to no longer exist.

3) Responding specifically to targets and criteria is, I think, the best way to employ a tablet or a laptop. See elsewhere for some thoughts on this (particularly on how ICT can enhance teaching).

4) Being able to share writing easily, and work on it with other classes, is perhaps one of the richest possibilities of a laptop or tablet in the classroom. For example, if I require my students to improve a paragraph using specific persuasive techniques in a 10 minute activity, it would be incredible to be able to share examples of the best for further modelling, and then push out examples of those that need improving for the entire class to work upon. For me, allowing students to interact personally with such paragraphs (rather than work through said examples on the IWB only) is more rigorous and would lead to more rapid progress.

5) All laptop and tablet use would also need robust class-monitoring software so the teacher could easily scan the responses of the class before pushing out best examples, and those that needed to be improved.

6) The prime use such hardware is their ability to:
a) Take pictures.
b) Receives pictures of other students’ work from the cloud.

7) Ipads are expensive and trendy. They also require a credit card in order to even begin to receive free apps. They are aesthetically appealing, though.

8)  Laptops do not immediately load. They also require 10 minutes either side of a lesson in order to comfortably pack away and unload. Without a dedicated technician, they are high-maintenance.

9) Using hardware in conjunction with titanpad to create a back-channel for students to reflect on points in the lesson is (in conjunction with extended tasks) particularly useful. I am beginning to use this on homework-feedback lessons.

10) Exploring how to use such hardware needs to focus on what the students are doing: not what the teacher is doing.