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Tablets in Education? Yes please!

[written by our Guest Blogger, Erin Baker!!]

Ok. So even after my kindred spirit colleague, Kathy Brooks, suggested I start blogging about my adventures in teaching, I still wasn’t sure what I would write about. Seriously? Why would anyone care about what I had to say?

Now I’ve gotten over worrying and analyzing so much because I have truly found a calling: teaching and technology. What began as a personal search for a more organized, more efficient way to teach, keep track of my students’ individual needs, and enrich my personal interests has turned into a magnificently accidental breakthrough that I would love to share.

Tablets. I’ve been researching A LOT on a tool/gadget that could be exactly what I was looking for to be more organized. I didn’t want to keep track of a billion devices. Ideally, I wanted everything I needed in one place. Keep contacts, notes, classwork, ideas, projects, etc., all in one place; a manageable, kinesthetic, easily accessible place. A few months back I thought I had found my answer in the Samsung Galaxy Note. They call it a phone and tablet in one. It even has a stylus that lets you handwrite notes, highlight and do some pretty cool artwork. Unfortunately, it was only available through a different phone company and if I changed companies I would lose my unlimited data package. When I spoke to my phone company, they said to be patient because sometime in the future they would probably be coming out with something like that. So I tried waiting. Then I started thinking maybe there was another way.

Tablets! More research. Apple. Samsung. Connected to a phone service data package. Wifi. iOS. Android. Aaaaaagh. The only thing I really knew about what I wanted was that I didn’t want to pay $400 – 600. Through my google searching I found a great deal at Best Buy. $200, 9.7 inch screen. Hmm, but off brand. Risky. More research. Reviews. YouTube. I took a risk. Man, oh man! It was DEFINITELY worth the risk.

Despite the disconcerning fact that it didn’t come with a manual, I can’t stop playing with it! But to the point of the whole diatribe, let me insert the email I sent Kathy earlier today:

Le Pan Tablet…I’ve been playing with my new toy (the Le Pan tablet) and I’ve been able to do some really cool stuff with it. First off, the Blackboard Mobile app is only with Sprint, so that’s a no go. I downloaded the Tegrity app and I could watch videos and add bookmarks, but I couldn’t figure out how to record as a teacher. Next, there’s a TON of apps out there. I had no idea. So, I’ve found some great apps that would work for our adult literacy classes, including a SUPERB math app, vocabulary flash cards, and grammar study helps. There are also other apps like Practicing for a Job Interview, How to Write a Resume, etc. that would be totally helpful to our students.

And finally, les pieces des resistance: I was able to download an Office suite, Dropbox and an app called FreeNote, which is similar to EverNote, but SOO much cooler. Not only is it a note organizing program where you can add tags, attachments, pics, links, etc., but you can handwrite notes, type with the keyboard, paint with a tremendous amount of tools.

So today, I took attendance in Angel, took handwritten notes (attached a worksheet) and uploaded everything into my Angel classroom in a matter of minutes!

Le Pan 2 notes in freenote

Example of hand-written and typed notes on Le Pan

…And now I’m posting this from my WordPress app. Cheers to teaching and the technology that has the potential to make it that much better!

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