iPads were introduced in 2010 so their use as an educational tool is relatively new when compared with 'traditional' tools, such as textbooks and calculators. As with any digital tool, there are conditions under which iPads can support improved student outcomes.
From recording, annotating and sharing sporting or artistic performances to building an app from the ground-up, from exploring a field location with augmented reality to creating a virtual robot with a student on another continent, well-utilised iPads can achieve positive student outcomes by enabling previously impossible approaches to learning.
Well-designed apps can support independent learning by presenting information in a dynamic and non-linear fashion, with real-time feedback and multiple pathways, giving students the ability to personalise their lessons.
“iPads can support seamless learning, allowing learners to easily switch learning contexts – from formal to informal or personal to social – and to take control of their own learning. For example, to supplement what they are learning in class in real-time through additional web-based inquiry, or by making digital notes.” Clark and Luckin, 2013
By collecting additional data about how students use the technology to achieve learning objectives, a fuller picture of individual learners can be gained, and this information can be used by teachers to individualise their teaching approach and provide timely interventions.
As students explore an app, they may discover new features or instruments that their teacher had not yet discovered, and sharing these discoveries, where the student ‘teaches’ the teacher, can be a good way for students to express their ideas and gain empowerment and confident.
“What is also particularly interesting is that teachers’ willingness to listen to pupil voice leads to a greater sense of empowerment in pupils, as they both recognise opportunities to use the iPad in planned and spontaneous ways. […] Not only can pupils’ suggestions influence how iPads are used in a lesson, but teachers’ pedagogic imagination, and hence pedagogic development, can also be stimulated in new and unexpected ways.” Beauchamp et al., 2015
iPads can be used by teachers and students to communicate student work, progress and feedback with parents and care-givers in an immediate and reliable way. Parents and caregivers can also communicate directly with teachers so that there can be alignment in the approach to teaching individual students.
By connecting to the internet through the iPad, students can learn to think creatively about how to find answers to problems in an open and less-prescribed environment, and to reflect critically on the quality and rationale of the information they collect. Students can also collaborate with other people outside their own school, which can enable the acquisition of intercultural, social and ethical skills.
- Beauchamp, G. et al., 2015, Teachers Learning to Use the iPad in Scotland and Wales: A New Model of Professional Development, Journal Of Education For TeachingVol. 41, Iss. 2
- Beatty, H. et al, 2011, It's the Pedagogy, Stupid: Lessons from an iPad Lending Program, ELearn Magazine
- Clark, W. & Luckin, R., 2013, What the Research Says. iPads in the Classroom, London Knowledge Lab, Institute of Education University of London
- Montrieux, H. et al., A Qualitative Study about the Implementation of Tablet Computers in Secondary Education: The Teachers Role in this Process, vol 7, pp. 481-488
- West, D.M., 2012, Digital Schools: How Technology Can Transform Education, Brookings Institution Press, Washington D.C.
- World Economic Forum 2015, New Vision for Education: Unlocking the Potential of Technology.