News that the trial of tablet computers in four schools across Edinburgh has proven a great success is a watershed moment in education.
The introduction of computers into classrooms in the 1980s – with the likes of the BBC Micro – was the first step in this evolution. But those computers with their clunky operating systems are so divorced from the tablets of today that the comparisons are almost meaningless.
iPads, and the myriad of cheaper copies now on the market, are intuitive to use and require very little starter knowledge.
The result is that – with the correct guidance from teachers – they become pure tools for learning.
Tablets will eventually be extended to all schools in the Lothians, the only question is when.
Cost will be a key factor. It is estimated that the bill could be £6.5 million for all 44,000 Capital schoolkids.
But add in the cost of improved wifi in schools, apps, maintenance of tablets and the fact that the devices will have to replaced every five years as they become outdated, and the bill quickly mounts up.
Savings will be made on paper costs, although some parents will rightly worry about a complete move to computers. How will this affect handwriting and spelling?
We must also be careful to avoid a postcode lottery where some local authorities are providing such devices and others are not. A case could be made for the Scottish Government to step in and centrally fund the purchase of tablets.
The bigger picture is that these devices can revolutionise learning and it would be failing our children if we failed to exploit this potential.
Winner or loser?
The number-crunching from George Osborne’s budget yesterday will continue for some time, and, as ever, working out if you were a winner or loser is no easy task.
It was billed as a budget for people who want to work hard and it was hard work indeed to see past the doom and gloom. Such a depressing economic outlook and resultant political storm was always going to dominate the headlines.
While the Chancellor had little room for manoeuvre, there has been a positive reaction in Edinburgh to some measures, in particular, the gamble on kick-starting the housing market. The 1p cut in beer duty is certainly worth raising a glass to if the rise in whisky duty is not. But what will be the long-term impact of Budget 2013? That may only become clear in the weeks, months and years to come.