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Exploring the Galaxy develops digital literacy

Christchurch’s Linwood College has been experimenting with Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 devices since the start of the year and has been impressed with the results, writes Lee Suckling.

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Samsung’s Galaxy Tablet 3 has proved the perfect addition to Linwood College’s philosophy for providing ICT for students that replicates experiences in real life.

“We’re pleased to have the Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 tablets. It means we now have a variety of devices throughout the College, which reflects the reality of the real world and the different devices people need to know how to use,” said Assistant Principal Jill Pears.

Working with the Greater Christchurch Schools Network (GCSN), Linwood College purchased a number of Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 tablets.

“We were recommended them by GCSN for their combination of price, features, and ease of use,” said Assistant Principal Jill Pears. “We didn’t look at any other models – we just trusted the advice.”

The Christchurch school bought a set of 12 tablets to begin the current school year. The aim was for them to be shared across the 112 pupils in Years 7 and 8.

“We’re a Google Apps for Education school, so these tablets work in seamlessly with our existing setup,” explained Pears.

Learning on the move

The set of Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 tablets is shared around Linwood College, depending on need.

“We don’t have BYOD yet, so we move these around the classes, as and where they are needed. A mathematics unit might want to take them around the school and take photos of tessellations in the environment, or another class might want to take them away on a school trip. Their portability is very useful: tablets are much easier to move around than any of the bigger devices we have.”

Frequently used outside, Pears says Linwood College pupils all find the Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 screens bright enough to view in full daylight.  Battery life has also been a particular benefit of the Samsung devices.

Android-Jelly-Bean-Logo“We easily get a whole day out of them. We have a charging trolley for them to go to at night, and we promote individual responsibility among kids to ensure they device they have been using is put away and charged.”

Linwood College’s digital e-learning leaders keep on top of this because “it doesn’t always happen”, Pears admits, but onus remains on pupils.

Transferring knowledge of touch

Though not an intention, Pears has noticed a “very strong natural ability” in Linwood College’s students for using the Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 devices.

“Eleven and 12-year-olds have a really strong knowledge of touch technology already and a lot of our pupils already have Android-based mobile phones. They’re transferring the knowledge they already have from their personal devices at home into the school environment.”

The Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 is a 7-inch tablet that runs Android Jelly Bean, and alongside Google apps such as Google Play, Gmail and YouTube, it has dedicated Samsung apps including ChatON, S Suggest, Smart Remote (Peel), S Voice, and All Share Play.

“We haven’t been big users of many of these apps – pupils tend to find and download the apps they like on their own.

Linwood College purchased the standard Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 edition, however it’s also available in a ‘Kids Edition’, which is designed for young primary students and features rubberised protective casing and a specialised ‘kid friendly’ user interface that sits overtop Android Jelly Bean.

“The price of the Samsung tablets was particularly good – we could purchase two units for roughly the same price as other similar devices.”

Developing essential digital literacy

Pupils at the College are developing essential digital literacy skills through the use of Samsung’s tablets, according to Pears.

“The tablets have been huge for engagement. Particularly when children are writing on them, they’re very quick to use the keyboards. It’s making all children – and particularly boys – more interested in writing.”

Enhanced collaboration, facilitated via Google Docs, is the main learning goal to be enabled by the Samsung Galaxy Tab 3s at the College.

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“Being able to collaborate on a poem or an article together on the same document, on different devices, teaches kids how to share and explain among themselves.

“In terms of achievement levels, we are seeing more in-class participation; particularly from pupils that usually like to stand back. In the long term, it’s technology like this that keeps kids engaged and with engagement they’re likely to stay in school longer. Technology will give us higher attendance rates, and will help us towards the Government’s goal of seeing 85 per cent of pupils achieve at NCEA.”

Natural process of adoption

The Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 devices are “very much a student-central device”, adds Pears, and they’re not used by Linwood College teachers. Teachers have not, however, had any problem incorporating their use into lessons.

“Teachers are sharing their own best practice with these devices as it happens. It’s very much been a natural process of adoption. We’ve had no need for professional development, but we’d definitely consider it in the future to enhance teachers’ knowledge of tablet technology and what it can do.”

Overall, the purchase of the 12 devices by Linwood College has proved a shrewd acquisition that’s serving the college well.

“Children will keep changing the kinds of devices they use, so it’s important for us to always have various different devices available so they can take their skills to high school and into their adult lives.  

Lee Suckling writes for INTERFACE Magazine.


About Linwood College

Founded in 1954, Linwood College is a co-educational secondary school in Christchurch.

Roll of approximately 700 students. In June, it became the country’s first science, technology, engineering, and maths (STEM)-focused school.

linwoodcollege.school.nz


samsung-galaxy-tab-3Samsung Galaxy Tab 3

This is a 7-inch tablet with 600 x 1024 pixel screen resolution. It measures 188 x 111.1 x 9.9 mm and weighs 306 grams. Running on Android Jelly Bean, the device has a 1.2 GHz dual-core Cortex A9 processor and 1GB of memory. There are two cameras, 3.15 megapixels for the rear-facing and 1.3 megapixels to
the front.

If you’re interested in finding out more about this – or other Samsung products – contact
Phil Giller, Education Lead, Samsung NZ, on
021 243 8017 or
p.giller@samsung.com

For more information go to samsung.co.nz/education

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