Kids’ Learning Tablets: Do They Really Help Kids?

By Bryan Rhoads, Intel iQ Executive Editor @bryanrhoads January 8, 2014

Tablets are everywhere.  Every day we hear about new creative uses, from tormenting your cat, to use in the cockpit for flight manuals, point of sale check out, use by coaches and players in professional sports and of course for education.

Kids find tablets fascinating.  It’s the new normal. We have all heard or read about it:  the 2 year old that bought a car on Ebay using their parent’s tablet or your own that can easily beat you at a game of Cut the Rope.  Young children can take and peruse photos, download apps, and generally make their way around a tablet better then you can.  You’ve read about eTextbooks, gamification to incent learning, apps that teach physics, create art, music, teach math, but a lingering question remains, does the easy availability and use of tablets really help kids learn?

The simple answer appears to be yes, with the right content and like many things, when managed appropriately. I turned to the maker of the Nabi Tablet, the leader in educational tablet solutions for kids to get some clues.  Most parents know that kids are attracted to tablets, parents want a managed experience on a device that provides the best learning and entertainment applications with the best parental controls. The solution needs to be engaging, interactive, give feedback, track progress, and Nabi has focused on delivering these goals with their tablets.

When I tried one of these tablets I was excited, much as I imagine kids feel when they touch one of these tablets (inspired and motivated, check). The parental controls that had been set helped me (even adults need limits on their technology) and showcased what moderation really means (check).  I tried an interactive game and practiced my math facts (can’t rely on spreadsheets all the time).  It was a great experience and showed me that tablets can help kids learn. It’s not a substitute for a parent or a teacher but a great complement to support a child’s learning. The new Nabi DreamTab set to launch toward the middle of the year will have new apps, a stylus and content to help kids express their creative and artistic side.

Although great progress has been made in digital learning there is way more to come.  Schools all over the world are adding tablets and e-textbooks, teachers are learning to embrace technology, exams are going digital with instant feedback and collaboration moves to a new level with new tools so students can collaborate in new ways. As I use these new tablets and think about what’s next, I imagine tablets that help kids asses their skills, help them select challenges that show how they compare to their peers, teach them new languages, recommend reading challenges, books they will like, and give parents feedback that help them better understand more about their children, how they learn, what they like and how to continue to inspire them to love learning

What do you think about tablets for learning and what’s your experience with your own children?

Read more about how technology is driving innovation in education from Intel iQ.

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