Last Friday I had the pleasure of attending the DEECD iPads 4 Learning Evaluation day at the Victorian Art Centre in Melbourne, a day that i had been looking forward to for quite some time.
It was a day designed to share effective iPad integration practices however more so to reflect on using such a device to assist teaching and learning. It was wonderful to hear the stories of the 10 educational settings involved and see how far that they had come in in the 18mth period of the trial. It was just as exciting to hear what these settings were going to do in the year to come in relation to furthering their iPad journeys.
The various educational settings that were involved in the trial certainly gave a wide and varied indication, all of which was greatly positive, in to how a piece of mobile technology can assist student learning. Specialist schools such as Warringa Park (special ed.), The Victorian College for the Deaf and the Royal Children’s Hospital Education Unit gave great insights as to how mobile technology, with a device as simple as an iPad, can go a long way in assisting students with their learning.
So… down to business. Below i have summarised what “I” found to be the key points of the day broken down in to the nominated categories. A lot of information summarised in to a few sentences/paragraphs. An official report to DEECD will be completed and supplied to the ‘powers that be’ relating to the trial and it’s findings. It is a DEECD decision if that report is handed to the trial schools. Those schools involved in the iPad trial however will receive their own individual reports which i am eagerly awaiting!
Here we go…
– The impact that the iPad had on student learning was high.
– The trial proved, as perhaps we all already knew, that the one factor that drove quality teaching, enthusiastic students and engagement in learning throughout the iPad trial, was quality teachers.
– It’s not the device, but they way that teachers are willing to change their pedagogy.
– The iPad as a device supersedes others. It’s portable, robust, not difficult to maintain, intuitive, and easy to use.
– Students, especially in secondary settings, believed that they know more than the teachers in how to use the device. Primary’s thought they were on par with teachers and students in specialist settings believed that the teachers knew more.
– That overall, the iPad made a great difference to a variety of things. Accessing information anywhere and the notion of ‘speed of information’ was a huge positive.
– Students in secondary settings were less enthusiastic about using the iPad as a learning tool in the classroom. That the older the students, the less engaged they were regardless of having an ipad device.
– A very small cohort of parents across the board felt that the use of the iPad was detrimental to their students learning.
– 89% off all students across the 10 schools felt that the iPad made learning fun.
– The most common activities that the iPads were used for were the following: Finding Information, Presenting, Communication, and Multimedia.
– The primary students stated that they used the devices outside of the classroom. The secondary students, not so much.
– The iPad as learning tool shone when assisting students with special needs, such as verbal and physical disabilities.
– The iPad assisted students to collaborate with others outside of their class and school setting.
– Students who utilised email as a main way to communicate with teachers also were found to share what they had created to other teachers, not just their own.
So as you have just read… a lot of great outcomes! At the end of the day is the question of “Does the iPad have the capacity to enhance and support student learning?”, in short, YES. Schools, colleges, universities and the like would not be moving towards towards mobile technology if there were no benefits. The money would not be being invested in to this type of technology if it were not worthwhile.
The outcomes of the trial also picked up on several key indicators that need to occur in school settings if new technology integration is to take place successfully. Where all of the above is less likely to be successful is here:
– The divide between primary learning and secondary learning are very real.
– The capacity for cross curriculum teaching needs to be greater.
– The logistical set up and infrastructure of colleges needs to be in place.
– Leadership support and understanding needs to be in place.
– Technical support.
– Parental support and encouragement.
– Students involved and support the use of the device.
As i have already touched upon, there appeared to be a divide as to how the iPads were being used in primary as opposed to secondary settings. Something that came out of the evaluation was that secondary students wanted to be using the device more often in classes. As was discussed, secondary students do follow a different model of teaching than their primary counter parts. Different subjects, different teachers. If those teachers of varied subjects are not onboard, then the iPad as a tool to assist student learning would be hindered.
One key theme that i did notice, that perhaps was not directly mentioned in a lot of detail, yet was a common theme of schools and teachers shifting their thinking away from planning around the device, to rather integrating it in to everyday curriculum. A real positive and in my eyes, how it should be! The device is a tool, not the be all and end all of student learning.
A big day with a lot of information! Hopefully you’ve found some use or relevant information from my ramblings!
Would love to hear your thoughts!