The final report of the iPad Scotland Evaluation undertaken for schools and local authorities in Scotland was released by the Technology Enhanced Learning Group based in the Faculty of Education at the University of Hull in October. 8 primary and secondary schools were assigned to participate the research by local authorities, the approximate number of iPads in pilot is 365.
There are 3 kinds of usages :
1. Some deployed class sets of the technology where devices were retained in the school and issued to students for particular lessons or purposes;
2. Other schools allocated machines to individual students for use across lessons but they were not allowed to take the equipment home;
3. A third group of schools adopted the most personalised approach and gave students the device for the duration of the pilot for use in school and at home.
Key findings from the research :
1. Use of tablet devices such as the iPad was found to facilitate the achievement of many of the core elements required within the Curriculum for Excellence framework and could be further developed in order to achieve these aspirations.
2. The adoption of a personalised device such as an iPad significantly transforms access to and use of technology inside the classroom with many attendant benefits:
− Many teachers noted that ubiquitous access to the Internet and other knowledge tools associated with the iPad altered the dynamics of their classroom and enabled a wider range of learning activities to routinely occur than had been possible previously.
− The device also encouraged many teachers to explore alternative activities and forms of assessment for learning.
3. Personal ‘ownership’ of the device is seen as the single most important factor for successful use of this technology:
− This is seen as the critical element:
in increasing student levels of motivation, interest and engagement;
in promoting greater student autonomy and self-efficacy;
in encouraging students to take more responsibility for their own learning.
− Evidence suggests that greater personal ownership of the iPad may also contribute to more interdisciplinary activity.
4. The individual possession of and early familiarisation with the iPad by teachers was seen as being responsible for the significant ‘buy in’ and low level of resistance from teachers:
− The iPad engaged both teachers and students equally well.
− Many members of school and Local Authority management teams commented that the deployment and effective use of iPad technology had been the most easily accepted, successful and problem-free initiative they had ever witnessed.
5. As a result of the pilot initiative schools are reconsidering their existing technology deployments with a view to more mobile provision:
− Some schools have decided that because of their experiences with the iPad their existing ICT suites of computers will not be replaced in future.
− Many schools reported that teachers and students were using iPads every day and in most lessons.
− Little formal training or tuition to use the devices was required by teachers; they learned experientially through play and through collaboration with colleagues and students.
6. The device is bringing about significant changes in the way teachers approach their professional role as educators and is changing the way they see themselves and their pedagogy:
− Teachers noted that iPads had promoted more collaboration between them and students.
− Teachers now see many students coaching and teaching their peers without the intervention of the class teacher
− Software and applications (e.g. screen recording apps) support these processes and resultant changes in pedagogy
− The use of iPads has enabled many more students to express their creativity, to engage in peer assessment and in group critique.
− Teachers have seen the emergence of a real learning community that extends beyond the academic to include a partnership between students and teachers who work closely together.
− Students report that within a month of the pilot starting, they noticed from their perspective that the quality of teaching seemed to have improved.
− Class teachers feel that the functionality of these devices better supports students of all abilities.
− Teachers reported that iPads allowed them to develop and extend homework and provide better feedback to students about their learning.
7. Parents also appear to become more engaged with the school and their child’s learning when the iPad travels home with the student:
− The overwhelming majority of parents believe that students should be allowed to use mobile technologies in their school before they reach the secondary stage and reported that their children gained significant positive dispositions towards learning as a result of access to the iPad.
− Over 80 per cent of parents considered the pilot project to have been valuable for their child despite its short duration and say it has significantly changed their child’s enjoyment of and attitude towards school.
− Parents say that greater motivation, interest and engagement of their child with learning have been the single largest benefits.
− Over 90 per cent of students believe that the iPad has helped them to learn more and to learn more difficult concepts and ideas better.
− 75 per cent felt that their children were now more willing to complete homework.
− Many noticed that their children were now more willing to talk to them about their school work.
8. Education departments and associated services within Local Authorities were perceived to have been helpful towards the iPad initiative and to have worked hard to support its use although corporate systems sometimes found this challenging:
− Some concerns surrounded data security and eSafety but schools felt that corporate structures should recognise the need to place more trust in schools and students.
− Schools felt that the appropriate use of the Internet is primarily a behavioural and educational issue that was within their abilities to address.
− Schools saw many central or corporate eSafety protocols as unhelpful and counter productive and most felt they prevented them from making full use of iPads.
− The physical safety of the devices has proved unproblematic and schools reported that students displayed high levels of responsibility and care even when taking iPads home.
− The iPad itself is simple to operate and is robust and reliable although a number of bulk maintenance and upgrading issues remain to be resolved in schools.
9. Many teachers and students wish to have access to the iPad after the end of the trial and are convinced it has changed learning for the better.
Personalisation and choice is a thread which weaves its way across this entire report, emphasising how access to an Internet capable device equipped with powerful construction tools, enable learners and teachers to have a far greater degree of agency and choice in how, when and where they undertake learning.
Regarding professional development for educators, there are several important conclusions:
- High levels of formal, lockstep training where participants learn at the same pace, are unnecessary and may actually prove counter-productive in encouraging teachers to use the iPad in teaching and learning.
- Teachers need access to the device on a personal basis, preferably before the initiative is rolled out into school, to ‘play’ with and become familiar with the device.
- Teachers will often learn how to use the iPad effectively in their teaching and learning through a self-directed experiential process which bears strong resemblance to Kolb’s cycle of experiential learning.
- Teachers gain support, inspiration and confidence by working with another colleague or small learning set where they feel secure to test out ideas and share both successes and setbacks.
- The Community of Practice model is a useful lens through which to understand how teachers learn through participation, although the online variety may not be suitable for all learners.
- There are mutual benefits and gains when teachers and students learn together collaboratively and this democratic model of learning may be transferable to other contexts outside of the iPad pilot.
Although only a small minority of parents (10 per cent) conceptualised mobile devices as tools for learning at the start of the pilot, the majority of parents are now aware that mobile devices have considerable potential to support their child’s learning both inside and outside of school. There is no doubt that parent’s participation is another crucial factor for success.
There will be pain and gain in every paradigm shift, history stories tell us. From well-structured research approach, this is a highly valuable report for policy decision, leadership, plan and management of iPad program in education.
It’s recommended to read the full report : iPad Scotland Evaluation Study.
- Study Finds Benefits in Use of iPad as an Educational Tool (Longfield Academy in Kent, England)
- Do iPads Really Improve Learning? Did you Miss Anything? (Auburn School District, Maine, USA)
- How Well Does Your iPad 1:1 Program Work? (iPad Scotland Final Evaluation Report)