The iPad and Student Use

Students aren’t daunted by the iPad interface. They may take time to experiment and understand steps required to produce an outcome, but they will persevere. Having observed students at different stages of learning, across many subjects, it has become clear that students aren’t a barrier to learning with the iPad. If a process doesn’t work for a student they will try something different. They collaborate with peers to produce quality work and will heed advice to move forward.

It compliments our wish as teachers that students should be more resilient in their learning and I question why they are so prepared to persevere with the device? The answers given by students are telling:

  • ‘Because it’s fun?’
  • ‘My work will be seen by everyone and I want it to be right’
  • ‘I don’t want it to look the same as someone else’s’
  • ‘The apps help you for different things, so I have to chose the right one’

I am not suggesting all students are suddenly challenging every decision they are making and persevering until perfection is reached. Simply, the overall quality of work produced has improved and led to higher internal assessment grades. We still have the standard issues with organisation, particulalry with younger students, to maintain the flow of work from student to teacher. However, the variation and depth of knowledge demonstrated has impressed with students surprising staff with their approach. This has been particulalry evident where a teacher has set open ended tasks with the focus on discovery and creation.

Another interesting development has been witnessed in classrooms where the teacher is embedding the device with other methods to produce learning opportunities. For example, observing six students use one iPad for research and one for process suggestion whilst completing a new art assignment left me questioning how they came to that work station set-up?

The answer was simple. The teacher allowed the students to use any method to achieve their lesson objective. Consequently, two students produced material, two used the device and two managed and lead the working environment. The students had taken existing, ‘comfortable’ working methods and incorporated the device. It might not seem revolutionary, but after eight weeks of the trial, this observation supports the desire to provide another tool to enhance learning. The iPad is not seen as a ‘magic bullet’, rather it is an instrument that can enhance learning and the ease of use is encouraging it’s integration.

These observations and thoughts will form a small part of feedback in relation to the next step in 1:1 implementation for the school and there are still a number of hurdles to overcome. It is impossible to draw specific, data rich conclusions for this trial with external examinations an important part of any whole school measure. However, feedback from students and staff point towards learning enhancement and a 1:1 iPad programme is a definite possibility.

It seems student use of the iPad won’t be a barrier!

About Daniel Edwards
Director of Innovation & Learning at the Stephen Perse Foundation schools, Cambridge, UK ( Interested in global connectivity for all and risk taking in education. Keen to discuss all aspects of learning and digital strategy. Also @syded06 on twitter.

6 Responses to The iPad and Student Use

  1. Alex says:

    Really enjoying your blog posts. I am a subject leader, just about to implement a new scheme for iPads for collaboration in an English and Media Studies faculty – up in York. We view them as a collaborative tool – an iPad per group in the main – I would be very interested in what Apps you use regularly with students and if there are any tips for implementing a significant number of iPads you would suggest given your trial. We intend on using iConfigurator and Apple TV in every classroom to sync apps, student learning and the devices – any information on how you are maintaining your devices would also be appreciated. I think the flipped classroom approach really is the teaching model of the future.

    • syded says:

      Thank you for your comments. I would suggest you try explain everything, comic life, sketch share and socrative as a starting point for apps. The best way to maintain the device is to get the students to own their own. If the school will own, then that is a wider issue. Feel free to contact me via twitter or email and we can discuss it. Cheers

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