Last updated: 25.02.14

Classroom iPads give kids '21st-century skills'

iPads and laptops are entering more classrooms in countries around the world as educators seek to ensure that the next generation is equipped with 21st-century skills. 

In Australia, a concerted drive is underway to ensure that today's children are fluent in the digital language, with the classroom seeking to catch up to other areas of people's lives, where the internet and web-connected devices are already now ubiquitous.

According to the Sydney Morning Herald, Queenwood School for Girls in Mosman is one such educational establishment, where electronic textbooks and online resources are opening up new avenues and methods of learning for pupils.

Of course, there are downsides - which can be seen clearest when the students know more about the technologies being used than their educators. As one student notes, having access to devices in the classroom can be bad "because people can play games and just swipe back when the teachers don't notice and there's not a lot of people that do do that".

Another potential issue is that wireless networks in many establishments are just not up to the task of streaming internet services to whole classroom-fulls of web-connected devices. But as with any emerging technology, there are always teething problems and the use of online resources in the classroom offers rich reward, particularly in the sense that a seamless provision of education can be provided both in the classroom and outside of it.

With more homework assignments tieing into these online systems, schools and parents can encourage children to continue learning in their spare time in a way that is productive and targeted. And this is easier than many heads and teachers may think. 

They don't need teachers to digitise their own lesson plans, as pre-existing resources have been developed by numerous third parties. Virtual College, for instance, supply over 2,000 schools with web-based learning courses that can be used in a flexible manner by students, either during classtime or later, when they are at home.