Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Better Than Providing a Laptop Is Providing an Online Curriculum Like LabSim

Many schools are investing in iPads or laptops for students, experimenting with replacing textbooks with digital tools that young people respond to. An article in eSchool News last week highlighted several schools who have provided these tools to students and some of the challenges and insights the schools have experienced. Interestingly, the benefits schools mentioned are the same ones instructors point out about using TestOut’s LabSim, while the challenges schools faced would all be avoided if schools could incorporate a course like LabSim into the curriculum for every subject!

For example, the benefits schools mentioned from providing iPads with educational apps to students include:
  1. Students engage in independent learning.
  2. Students get instant feedback about their performance.
  3. Teachers are free to circulate the classroom and work individually with students.
  4. Teachers have access to a dashboard to track student performance.
The challenges mentioned by schools of providing iPads to students include:
  1. Teachers need more support using the technology and more time to get comfortable creating lessons that utilize the iPad.
  2. Teachers need to do more than use the iPad as a direct replacement of a textbook (not just ask students to read text on screen).
  3. Students don’t want to stop; they desire more content on the iPad.
A curriculum such as LabSim—online IT training used by thousands of high schools and colleges—does for schools what they desire the iPad or laptops to do. Instructors who use LabSim tell us of the success they see in engaging students. LabSim allows students to work independently, with built-in tracking that keeps students responsible for their own progress, while making grading more straight-forward for teachers.

Using LabSim, schools avoid the challenges mentioned of implementing iPads. LabSim comes with the lessons already planned—a comprehensive curriculum that includes instructional videos and demos, hands-on labs that give students real practice, concise text lessons, and quizzes to evaluate students’ learning and give them immediate feedback. Students are free to repeat LabSim content at any time to be sure they master the material, and teachers have access to a wealth of resources from TestOut to support their use of LabSim.

For schools who want to replace textbooks with a technology tool, there is no better tool for IT than TestOut’s LabSim.

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