(Australian Associated Press)
The days of packing the school bag with books appear to be coming to an end as more kids show up to class with a tablet.
More than a million tech-familiar children will bring their tablets to school when first term begins in earnest for a number of states this week, according to new research from Telstra.
It is estimated more than 60 per cent of parents who have bought a tablet did so for educational purposes, believing their children’s schooling has benefited from having a mobile device.
The research, based on a survey of 400 parents and 100 teachers, found the number of Australian households with school-aged children to have at least one tablet was likely around 1.3 million.
For those without a tablet used for education, 40 per cent of families were thinking about buying one.
Kids as young as kindergarten age were becoming exposed to the technology at school and home.
“Because of the touch screen technology, it’s easier for kids of that age to manoeuvre as opposed to using a mouse,” Telstra Digital Inclusion advisor Shelly Gorr told AAP.
“They might be capturing their voices, videoing each other in classes.
“They might be doing digital publishing.” Students who used devices boosted their long-term opportunities in the digital world, said Ms Gorr, as more jobs require skills in science, technology, engineering and maths.
“Seventy-five per cent of the fastest growing occupations are going to require these skills in the future.
“Many jobs do require these kinds of skills and increasing children’s digital literacy helps them go from being just passive consumers to making and creating content.”
Ms Gorr said some parents did express concern about how much time their children were spending on mobile technology.
Concerns have also been raised about whether educators would be able fashion students’ use of the technology to their benefit.
“Like anything in education, the impacts are going to always come down to the quality of teaching and learning at the school,” Australian National University’s Steve Thomas said.
“You could have a brilliant teacher who is able to incorporate the use of tablets into day-to-day learning or could have a very bad teacher using the same devices and not getting a good outcome.
“You’ve got to use those devices to challenge and stimulate children in what they’re learning.”