Tablet computers for school success

Published on Thursday, 15 November 2012 12:35
Posted by Vicki Mitchem

Schoolchildren who use their 'own' tablet computers such as iPads at school and home see an all-round boost to learning, according to a new University of Hull study.

Researchers from the Faculty of Education at the University of Hull have just completed the biggest ever UK study into the impact of handheld computer tablet devices like iPads in schools in the UK. Pupils in eight schools, across six Scottish Local Authorities, took part in a six-month study that looked at everything from how effective the devices are in assisting learning, how teachers cope with using new technology, and even touched on who should foot the bill if such schemes are rolled out on a much wider scale.

The results indicated that children who were assigned an iPad in school and were allowed to take it home with them got much more out of the technology than those who were assigned the tablet computers just for technology lessons in school, and even those who had a one-to-one device but were only allowed to use it in the classroom.

Kevin Burden, who was the principal investigator, said: "This study gave us a fascinating opportunity to see the impact of these types of devices in use on a wide scale. We saw very early on that the biggest impact came from personal ownership of the computer, and being able to take it home.

"Pupils were more engaged and were able - and willing - to finish off work at home, then email it back to their class teacher so there were no 'dog eating homework excuses'. We also saw parents and family members becoming much more engaged in the pupil's education and learning in general, when pupils have a personal device like the iPad, something that could have implications for adult literacy as well.

"We found that teachers started to use these devices in more and more creative ways to enhance the learning of their pupils. They very quickly moved on from productivity type exercises (for example, word-processing), to thinking on a much wider and creative scale, for example, using cameras and video functions to inject life into different subjects."

The researchers made a total of 18 recommendations surrounding the use of iPad and similar devices in schools, with specific comments aimed at government, local authority and school level.

They include a wider roll-out of devices on a one-to-one level, pricing considerations – including leasing schemes - need to be considered carefully, and further studies should take place to continue evaluating this kind of technology.

Source: ©Hull University

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