I started teaching ICT way back in 1994. The first time I entered the computer lab, all computers were set in rows two by two on each side of the lab with an aisle straight down the middle. It was so difficult to monitor individual computers unless you set at the very back of the classroom and talked to the backs of the students. I was the very first teacher to change the setup of the classroom and put them in a horseshoe configuration where at least I could monitor each computer from the centre of the class. This improved my situation in class but did not give me any control on what was happening on each computer. Years later, colleagues of mine came across software that made it possible for the teacher to see each individual PC from the teacher’s terminal with some degree of control. It was not a perfect solution to classroom management but every little thing helps when you have 28 students in class all trying to do their own thing.
The tablet chosen for the One Tablet per Child offers a great solution to this everyday challenge in the classroom. The LearnPad gives the teacher total control of what happens in her class. The teacher does not need super powers to supervise and control. She can see from her own tablet all the screens of her students at one go. Thus she will be able to monitor what is happening on each tablet. However more importantly the teacher can ensure that all the students in class are where she wants them to be during the lesson. Being on the same page whether as a whole class or in groups frees up the teacher from supervising each student’s browsing habits. This supervision and control will help the teacher to focus on what she does best: teach. Being on the same page and where the teacher wants her children to be makes the teacher’s job of controlling the lesson easy. Children will be directed to point their device to the QR code that the teacher prepares for the lesson content that she wants her children to use and that is it. The student cannot wander off to a site that he likes, to a game that he was told about, or to a page that he knows from his home device. Being on the same page does not mean that all the students are doing the same thing. Using different QR codes, facilitates customisation of content either for individual students or for groups. This means that the LearnPad has the possibility of helping the teacher to make differentiation possible. The LearnPad will not do the teacher’s work but it is a great tool for the prepared teacher who wants to move away from a one size fits all.