18 November 2012

Scotland study: Tablet devices in schools beneficial to children

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School children who use a tablet computer benefit the most when allowed to take it home, rather than just using it in school, reveals research from the University of Hull, reports Engineering & Technology Magazine.

The iPad Scotland Evaluation Study set out to establish the impact of handheld computer tablet devices in schools, and found that personal ‘ownership’ of such devices is the single most important factor for successful use of the technology.

The study is the largest of its kind ever conducted within the UK, covering students from eight schools across six Scottish Local Authorities over a six-month period.

The research focused on four central themes in order to evaluate the overall effectiveness of these devices in assisting with learning, and was carried out by researchers from the Technology Enhanced Learning Research group at the Faculty of Education at the University.

1. Impact of tablet devices on teaching and learning generally
The study found that benefits included greater motivation, engagement, parental involvement and understanding of complex ideas.

2. Leader and management issues (stemming from a deployment of devices)
The study found that teachers are ‘equally engaged’ by the use of such a device, which has a low learning curve enabling them to use it immediately as a teaching tool and a learning tool for themselves.

3. Professional development of teachers and how teachers cope with using new technology
The research found that ‘use of the device is contributing to significant changes in the way teachers approach their professional role as educators and is changing the way they see themselves and their pedagogy’.

4. Parental engagement
The study showed that parents become more engaged with the school and their child’s learning when the iPad travels home with the student.

The study resulted in 18 recommendations for using these devices in schools, with specific comments aimed at government, local authority and school level.

Recommendations 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.

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