The high level of tablet penetration in US classrooms is generating an increasing need for software to enable these devices to be smoothly integrated into the teaching process.
Tablets are now part of the furniture in both primary and secondary classrooms in the United States…well almost. Although not all schools have as yet fully equipped their students, the phenomenon is increasingly widespread, and educational establishments across the US are investing more and more in ‘connected’ equipment. According to Pew Research, the Washington D.C.-based think tank, 73% of teachers certified under the Advanced Placement (AP) or National Writing Project (NWP) schemes who responded to a recent survey stated that they and their students use mobile phones for certain class assignments, while 43% say they use tablets. Some schools are investing in such devices, while others incline to the ‘Bring Your Own Device’ approach, i.e. students come to class with their own equipment.
From hardware to software
Tim Brady, co-founder and partner of Imagine K12, a Silicon Valley incubator dedicated to education startups, believes that this growing adoption of tablets will steadily speed up the development of education software, which at the moment is rather limited. During an event on the theme of education technologiesorganised by FounderLY, held in San Francisco in late June, Brady explained: “We’re seeing massive adoption of iPads and other tablets. These investments are generating a growing need for education software designed to help integrate the hardware into the running of the classroom and into teaching methods.” Some companies are now even developing tablets and software in tandem. This is, for example the case with NewsCorp’s educational division, whose Amplify tablet comes with pre-installed proprietary software.
Incorporating technology more effectively into the classroom
Many education sector startups are going this route with the aim of integrating tablets and other connected devices smoothly into the classroom. In this respect, a major focus of attention among education entrepreneurs is performance measurement. Learning Catalytics helps teachers to assess their students’ progress more easily in real time so that they can put together balanced work groups.UK-based company Trilby’s Showbie software product, which is specially designed for the iPad, enables teachers to assign both homework and classroom exercises to students, to collect in the completed assignments and mark them online. Californian company Plickers provides a means for teachers to use their mobiles to make scanned copies of their students’ work, and thus collect class test answers in just a few seconds.