Beds, Herts & Bucks

Milton Keynes College plans to issue interactive tablets

Students who are sick at home may be able to take part in lessons at a Buckinghamshire college under plans to give them electronic tablets.

Milton Keynes College is to give all students the small computers so they can work interactively.

It is developing technology which will allow them to answer questions in class, access interactive whiteboards and work remotely.

It believes it is the first college in the UK to use tablets this way.

The college says rather than just giving students a tablet on which to work, it would "change the way they learn".

The devices will allow instant messaging and video conferencing between pupils and staff.

The college said it was working with firms including Microsoft on the technology.

'More interactive'

Dr Daniel Hidlebaugh, director of information learning technology at the college, said that the "standard" of having a teacher stand in front of children sitting in rows of desks was "almost like being preached at".

"We want the students to be more interactive in the classroom, have them embrace technology which would bring them closer to the whole educational process," he said.

"By that I mean not just give them a tablet to use but have them be more interactive with [it].

"It would be everything from being able to answer questions and quizzes in the classroom, to being able to interactively use the whiteboard, engaging all students at all times, any time, any place.

"Even if they are sick at home they can actually join in with the class."

'Case study'

Dr Hidlebaugh added that "as far as he was aware" they were the first educational institution in the UK to use technology in this way. It is scheduled to be introduced to some pupils next September.

"It is not happening anywhere to the extent that we are planning on doing it here and it certainly not in the UK," he said.

"We wouldn't be getting the support from Microsoft in the US unless they felt this was going to be a very large case study that they could use."

After a period of testing, the long-term plan is for all pupils to be issued with one, which they can keep if they complete their course.

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