When the ICT Clubs were launched, two tablets were provided to the participating schools.  It was all excitement and a lot of optimism for great things to happen. Yet to some participants a tablet was not familiar or it was just another phone to be used by the ICT Club.

Nicholas Kugonza

At its most basic level, a tablet PC is a mobile computing device that’s larger than a Smartphone or personal digital assistant. There’s not a strict cutoff size for tablet devices — the iPad line has a screen size of just under 10 inches but other tablets can be larger or smaller.

The idea of the tablet computer isn’t new. Back in 1968, a computer scientist named Alan Kay proposed that with advances in flat-panel display technology, user interfaces, miniaturization of computer components and some experimental work in WiFi technology, you could develop an all-in-one computing device. He developed the idea further, suggesting that such a device would be perfect as an educational tool for school students. In 1972, he published a paper about the device and called it the Dynabook.

The 10 ways:

  1. See the world: It’s easier than ever to take a virtual tour of the world for whatever lesson or topic you want to link the idea with. Google Maps has added 3D buildings in some areas and includes street view too (press and hold on any road for a closer look). Google Earth lets you see the contours and landmarks of the planet and can even overlay nuggets of information thanks to Wikipedia.
  2. Study the night sky. A tablet makes a great stargazing tool if your students are studying the pattern of the cosmos, and with the right app you don’t have to wait for the sun to go down – you can simply point the tablet up at the sky and it will show the constellations as you move it around. SkyView Free is among the best apps, though there are more. While most are premium priced, many also provide a basic free edition so you can try them out before buying. The apps can even be used in daylight, but are most effective when pupils can see the stars in the night sky as well as on their device display.
  3. Document learning progress. Seesaw is a relatively new app, but it’s hit the ground running with a suite of excellent tools enabling students to keep a record of what they’re learning (and parents can get involved as well). Photos, videos, drawings, text, web links, pdfs and material from other apps can all be incorporated, and teachers have the option to log into the journals (and approve work) from any device. A recent update added blogging capabilities to the app and, thanks to the intuitive accounts system, a whole class can alternately share one tablet device if necessary.
  4. Set up a class webcam. If you can fix a tablet somewhere suitable and have some shillings to spare then iCam does a great job of turning the device into a private webcam that you and the students can log into and view from any web browser. Perhaps you want to keep an eye on the class vegetable patch or some wildlife outside the window, or maybe there’s another class somewhere else in the world that you have a special partnership with and would like to contact on a regular basis – there are all kinds of different ways to use the app.
  5. Make your own movies. You probably know how to use a tablet’s camera app to record a movie, but you might not realise just how versatile it is. The default iPad app includes a time-lapse mode for recording a scene over a long period of time and then shortening the results (scroll up in the mode list to find it). Other apps can lend a hand too: use Stop Motion Studio to build a movie from a series of pictures, there are many more other apps that can be used to add voice narrations, music and text, and turn inanimate objects and drawings into animated talking heads.
  6. Translate foreign words and phrases instantly. From the simplicity of the post-it note approach applied by FlashSticks to the full-scale language learning experience offered by Duolingo, there’s no shortage of apps out there to help students get to grips with a foreign tongue. As far as classroom fun goes, Google Translate is worth trying out: there’s a special camera mode that converts text into a specified language on the fly, so you can play around with signs, headlines, blocks of text and more while exploring the basics of a foreign language. Audio and text translation features are also included.
  7. Learn the basics of programming. Is the next Mark Zuckerberg hiding in your class? Students are being encouraged to get coding earlier than ever, and), Tynker is one of the best ways of teaching. them the basics while keeping them entertained.
  8. Get creative with photo taking. The Android camera apps are simple enough to use and can be deployed to record anything from a field trip diary to the results of a science experiment or a class art show. A number of additional apps let you stitch pictures together and add stickers on top; Pic Collages is one of the best but there are others out there, while Pic Lab lets students add filters, text and various other effects.
  9. Make music. Tablets are well-known as music-making devices, even among professionals, and there are a plethora of apps available that make good use of the tablet’s extra screen space compared with a mobile phone screen. These range from apps that enable you to add effects to existing tracks to apps to help you compose something from scratch, note by note. Walk Band can help nurture the musical creativity of your students. There are plenty of more specialised music apps available, so you should be able to find something to suit your students’ age and even particular topics or instruments.
  10. Tune into worldwide radio. There’s almost no end to the number of hats a tablet can wear – jukebox, map, ereader, television and, importantly, radio. Using an app such as TuneIn Radio, one of the best radio apps available, you can experience music and talk shows from all across the world in dozens of different languages, with more than 100,000 stations to choose from. If you’re studying a foreign culture, it’s one way of bringing a taste of it into the classroom.

With a tablet, only your imagination can limit its potential. I hope this information will enable you to explore more of what a tablet or what we call an Ipad can be able to accomplish.

“Without change there is no innovation, creativity, or incentive for improvement. Those who initiate change will have a better opportunity to manage the change that is inevitable.”
William Pollard

Kugonza Nicholas is an IT Professional, a teacher out of Practice, with experience spanning over 10 years, 5 of which with KAWA. Nicholas has a passion for empowering young people and participating in social causes.



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