The Single Most Important Factor for iPad Success in Schools

Creative Commons licensed photo taken by Lexie Flickinger 

Creative Commons licensed photo taken by Lexie Flickinger 

When you think of iPads in schools, you probably think of a cart that's wheeled into a classroom. Youngsters cheer at the arrival of the cart. Devices are passed out, used for a lesson, and then returned to the cart. The cart is then whisked away to another classroom where the same thing happens.

Having a cart of devices puts the adults in charge of the technology. If possible, I would like to see students in control. Instead of teachers worrying about syncing, battery level, and app installation, learners should manage all of that. After all, isn't that a crucial skill for living in this century? 

The Technology Enhanced Learning Research Group, lead by Kevin Burden from the University of Hull, investigated the use of iPads at eight different schools in Scotland. The study took place between March and summer 2012 and analysis was completed in October 2012.

The researchers found that "personal 'ownership' of the device is seen as the single most important factor for successful use of this technology." They found ownership is fundamental for increasing students levels of motivation, interest, and engagement. Personal ownership promotes greater student autonomy and self-efficacy. Best of all, ownership encourages students to take more responsibility for their learning.

The study also found that teachers using iPads changed their approach to teaching. Pedagogical shifts include:

  • more collaboration
  • more creative expression
  • a strong learning community
  • better support for students of all abilities
  • students take it upon themselves to teach and coach each other 
  • higher quality of teaching perceived by students
  • teachers give better feedback to students about their learning

Not surprisingly, teachers and students want to continue to have access to iPads and are convinced that their use has changed learning for the better.

Read the key findings or download the full report, which includes recommendations for schools, popular apps, parental and student survey results, school vignettes, and an Acceptable User Policy.

In search of more research about iPads in education? Go to my collection of bookmarks tagged iPad + research on Delicious or Diigo.

Creative Commons licensed photo taken by Lexie Flickinger