I wanted to write a short review of the excellent paper written by NAACE called The Ipad as a tool for Education - A study of the introduction of iPads at Longfield Academy, Kent which is freely available. There is actually more research that I thought about these devices and this is first such paper I have read. I hope the others are as informative as this one because this gives insight into the impact of giving ipads to each student in a UK secondary school over a couple of terms in the academic year of 2011/12. Firstly the key sentence from the report:
"The outcomes at Longfield clearly demonstrate the value of the iPad as an educational tool and the role that it can play in learning and teaching." (P4, NAACE, 2012)
What I like is that staff, students and parents were surveyed. Interestingly, the students have a consistently more positive perception of its impact on their learning, achievement and engagement. Both staff and students are positive overall on their impact. There is a consistent 15% of staff negative across many of the questions is pretty impressive for a totally new device.
To comment on the report and give insight into the key findings I'll reproduce the bullet points from the executive summary and annotate with my comments. Words from the report are in italics and my words are non-italicised.
- The overwhelming majority of teachers regularly use iPads in their teaching - This is encouraging but it covers everything from a teacher using it to do a little research to use in collaborative learning.
- iPad use is particularly strong in English, Maths and Science - This statement belies a tendency for ipads to be used as a deliverer of subject specific content. I can see how teachers will instinctively explore their usefulness in this regard. This is partly to do with how technology has been used in the past, partly to do with how ipads are used in general and partly to do with reinforcing the dominant didactic pedagogy where seeking content fits nicely. I also suspect that there could be more exploration of apps for collaborative possibilities in this context leaving much of this potential undiscovered. The apps listed towards the end of the document are the standard popular ones and a few subject specific ones. This is an area that where educators will definitely need help with. I am certainly more interested in the all purpose collaborative or creative apps than the subject specific ones.
- There is high demand from students for iPad use to be extended further & Students are more
motivated when using iPads - One of the many messages you can take from these statement is that students want to be engaged more in their own learning and welcome the opportunities for working with devices that allow this to happen.
- Teachers have identified significant benefits for their workload and have also identified cost savings & Both staff and student feel they can work more effectively iPads & All find the iPad easy to use - This is important because it will attract many of the sceptics. Much of this is about the paper-saving potential. What's vital is that the screen glare is far, far reduced from notebooks and laptops of a few years ago. It's still a bit better with dedicated ebook readers but the ipad isn't half bad in this respect. Another key point is the easy transition between different applications and format all in one device. It makes tasks which previous needed planning and different pieces of equipment quicker and easier to manage and more attractive.
- Use of the iPads is increasingly being developed for homework and beyond school activities - There are just so much potential with the 1:1 setup. Students get their own device where they can continue their learning anytime, anywhere. What we need to do is help formal education understand the potential and they can set creative activities that can be completed at home.
- The quality and standard of pupil work and progress is rising - This point just leaps off the pages. Raising standard is hard to quantify but there is clearly enough evidence to make this statement. Now to find more studies that see what they say...
- Levels of collaborative working have improved - The evidence for this seemed a bit vague to me. But I'm sure its happening. What's important to understand is the tablets don't disrupt the social dynamic of the classroom. They can sit within a group discussion context and a focus for activity. Compare this with a computer room.
- Appropriate use of Apps learning - I'm glad it wasn't inappropriate. But we need more details case studies to learn more about this.
- Minor technical issues have arisen, often due to user error, but are readily dealt with - This was very useful. I have found with my tablet that there are very few problems that a reboot doesn't solve. When teaching with the ipads it's the logistics of sorting out the presentation screen that's needs the most attention. Also, its harder to manage a group of your own ipads for use across different groups than to go down the 1:1 route. The ipad is designed as a personal device so this is hardly surprising. I'm busy managing multiple itunes accounts and lots of gifting apps. Its fiddly. By giving this responsibility over to the students things are much easier.
- Effective project management has been critical to the success of this development - It's about investing time and space to the implementation process and built in time and space for regular review. For participants on my forthcoming workshop Using Ipads in Educational Settings we plan to offer the facilitation of action research as a follow up to support any implementation process. Buying technology and then have them sit in a cupboard is something we all want to prevent.
I like commenting on reports like this. I really helps me reflect.
NAACE (2012), The ipad as a tools for education - a study of the introduction of iPads at Longfield Academy, Kent. Online at http://www.naace.co.uk/publications/longfieldipadresearch.
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