[quote]“No technology has an impact on learning in its own right; rather, its impact depends upon how it is used.”
I often get asked why we promote the use of iPads and how a toy can be useful in education. I recently came across a report that addressed this question far better than I can.
You can read the report here.
The report seeks to explore:
- If we know enough to demonstrate if, how and when iPads support learning
- The key ideas from the literature on the effective use of iPads and other post-PC tablet devices and
- The implications of tablet technologies for school leaders, network managers, teachers, learners and their parents.
You can see a summary of part of the report below.
Before I address the questions above, I would like to address the first question people that people ask me:
“Why iPads? Why not Android or Windows tablets?”
My answer is simple, the apps. The apps you have on your iPad can make or break your level of integration. While Google Play is fast catching up with the Apple App Store in the amount of apps and downloads it has, it doesn’t have the apps that I used on a daily basis in my classroom, for example: ScribblePress; ToonTastic; and PuppetPals.
When I queried developers about the lack of quality education apps available for Android they said that many developers do not develop for Android because it is far more difficult to develop for the different operating systems and screen sizes that Android supports and there is a big difference in the amount of downloads. Last year, Forbes reported that 84% of developers surveyed said iOS was best for ease of development and 64% said that iOS had the highest future revenue potential.
I have not touched upon Windows other tablets here as once you start researching apps there is just not enough yet on the other platforms to make them suitable for use in education.
The second question I get asked is:
“Why should we get tablets? Aren’t laptops better?”
If asked for my personal opinion, I would say that I do not advocate schools using solely tablet devices. I believe there is value in having a mixture of the two as each is better suited to different tasks.
In the recently published research document, “iPads in the Classroom – London Knowledge Lab report” written by Wilma Clark and Rosemary Luckin, this question is tackled.
The report takes an in-depth look at how the iPad can enhance the learning experience and transform teaching practice. In the executive summary, Clark and Luckin say, “Research suggests that the adoption and use of iPads in and beyond the classroom allows students to augment and enhance their learning in ways that were previously not possible or not easy to do so.”
As you read further, you will see that teachers have reported an enhanced learning experience and transformed teaching practice when using iPads. The benefits noted were “mobility, portability and general ease of use” which enabled a wider range of learning activities to occur regularly. Teachers also felt that the iPads enabled them to differentiate more easily and to promote independent learning.
Parents reported that students were more motivated and engaged in learning, more knowledge was gained and more time was spent on homework.
[quote]“The research on iPad use and adoption overwhelmingly reports that tablet devices have a positive impact on students’ engagement with learning. Findings report increased motivation, enthusiasm, interest, engagement, independence and self-‐regulation, creativity and improved productivity.”[/quote]
Students have been using computers and laptops in school and at home for many years, yet the research says that there is a marked difference in quality of learning when using tablets.
As stated above, the mobility and portability of the devices plays an important part in learning as well as the ‘instant on’ that iPads offer, meaning you do not have to wait five minutes for laptops to turn on, then further time to log on and find the right programme etc. Another benefit is the longer battery life meaning no trailing cords in your classroom.
“What do we do once we have iPads?”
The report states that “Successful implementation of tablet technologies in schools requires careful, long-term planning before, during and after the event.”
When you start thinking about using tablets in your classroom, you must first think about
- How will the tablets be used?
- How will it enhance and encourage learning?
- How will I change my practice to take advantage of all a tablet can offer?
It’s not enough to crunch numbers and say that you can afford more Android tablets so that it what you will buy. Included in your costing must be the apps you will buy to get the most out of your devices and what training you will offer to your staff to ensure maximum uptake.
I asked colleagues in the JEDLAB group on Facebook what they thought about this and all agreed on this point: buying the devices is not enough. It is necessary for schools to invest in support for staff as well. All too often we see schools investing hundreds and thousands of pounds in new technologies that are then underused or forgotten about. To ensure you get the most out of the devices you buy you must ensure you have a system in place to support teacher’s usage.Featured image sourced from the PC Mag