Much interest was shown in yesterday's post iPad or iFad? It focused on whether schools should provide iPads for all their students. In the UK several schools are already doing this, and all have received great criticism from pressure groups who claim that it is an expensive gimmick. All down through the history of technology, as each new tool is introduced, there are those who will resist and complain, usually without any real evidence to justify their complaints. The main objection against one iPad per child projects is that there is little evidence to show that the new devices actually improve learning gain. The schools counter this argument by saying that with projects in their infancy it does take time to set up research and gather data, interpret it and discover whether an affect is in evidence.
The discussion on iPad or iFad was very interesting and thought provoking and I would like to express my thanks to all those who participated. The gist of the discussion centred not so much on the technology (and rightly so) but more on the pedagogy. You can follow it for yourself here, but generally, those participating agreed that if a new technology such as the iPad is introduced into the classroom it will only be effective if the the teaching and learning changes to harness the power of that technology. Too often we have seen new technologies placed into the classroom, and then used in exactly the same way as the old technology they are meant to replace. This video shows what not to do with an iPad:
One school I featured in yesterday's post was Mounts Bay Academy, near Penzance, Cornwall. Mounts Bay is one of the secondary schools in the UK that has adopted one iPad per child, and at the cost of over half a million pounds, has been the target for a lot of flak from groups such as the Tax Payers Alliance. Sara Davey, head teacher of Mounts Bay was yesterday interviewed on BBC radio, and reported an initial set of results from their school-wide iPad project as follows:
In a recent student survey 90% of Mounts Bay students agreed that iPads were very useful for their learning, especially in Science, English, Religious Education and History. They reported that they made personal learning gains by working faster and getting more done. The students found the iPads very useful for their research and homework and they liked the fact that it is inclusive with a personal device for every student. Teachers observed that there were gains in Literacy learning, with communication now excellent between staff and students and improving greatly with between the school and parents. There is a report on the website of a visit by teachers from nearby schools Penrice and Callington yesterday with comments, and an iPad showcase section. Data collected by the school indicate that Year 11 achievement looked very promising this year with a possible 10% increase in students gaining 5 GCSEs (including English and Mathematics).
As Sara Davey herself warns, these results cannot and should not be solely attributed to the introduction of the iPads. Yet it is significant that students have reported that they revise earlier because they are more interested in studying using the iPads than they are using text books.