Entries in research (6)


iPod touch in Canby School District

iPod touches are making a difference in Oregon. The Canby School District completed a pilot last year and those behind the program are generous about sharing what they've learned. I've been reading the school district's wiki for some time, and a recent article written about their pilot on O'Reilly Radar is impressive.

Joe Morelock, Director of Technology & Innovation for the district, posted slides from his presentation Mobile Devices in Canby SD: Meeting the Needs of Every Student. It details exactly how many devices the district uses and shares achievement data. On Joe's slides you can see that more students in classrooms with iPod touches met math and reading criteria on the Oregon Assessment of Knowledge and Skills. Other slides show an increase in reading fluency and large gains of almost two years on the Iowa Test of Basic Skills.

The school district was so thrilled with the results of the pilot that they are rolling out iPod touches to each and every third grader this school year. They are also running pilots of iPads in various grade levels.

Joe's slides have some telling quotes from teachers:

"This is the most fun I have had teaching in the last 25 years." -Deana Calcagno, Fifth Grade Teacher

"The best usage was the voice memos to record rough drafts. Students caught errors in their writing and actually revised it when it didn’t ‘sound right.’ Being able to record their voice and use the iPods motivated them to improve their writing skills." -Jacquie Fitch, Fourth Grade Teacher

"The iPods are changing non-readers into readers. It's amazing. Thank you." -Joan Flora, High School Reading Teacher

Joe's presentation for Mobile Portland was recorded and is available online. His presentation begins about 19 minutes into the video.


The Canby School District's has a fantastic wiki to support their handheld-using teachers. It's called the iPod & iPad User Group Wiki and has a wealth of information. It has a blog with classroom ideas, project examples, and lessons. Thanks to those in Canby School District for sharing!

While there isn't a whole lot of research that's specific to iPod touch and iPad on the web, you can browse some research-related sites I've bookmarked on Delicious. There are quite a few wikis devoted to Apple handheld's and I've bookmarked the ones I've come across. If you've got research or a wiki to share, please leave them in the comments. These kinds of resources can certainly be helpful when writing grants and when convincing administration to bring handhelds into classrooms.


Podcasting Yields Higher Scores than Attending the Lecture

PodcastingI've been fascinated by the idea that teachers could flip-flop lectures and homework. Lectures could be podcasted (and put on DVD for those without internet) and assigned as the "homework," allowing for class time to be spent on discussion, collaboration, and reteaching. In July I wrote about a pair of high school chemistry teachers who are doing this very thing with great success.

The article "iTunes University" Better Than the Real Thing in last week's New Scientist reports the findings in a study from the State University of New York called Can Podcasts Replace Professors. The study found that students who listened to podcasted lectures performed better on tests over the lecture material than students who actually attended the lecture in person.

The study used 64 Psychology 101 students. Half of the students listened to an enhanced podcast (that's showing the lecture's slides along with playing the audio). The other half were given a print out of the slides and were present for the lecture.

Students who were in the podcast group averaged a 71% while those in the lecture group scored a 64% average when tested over the material in the podcast/lecture. However, those who listened to the podcast and did not take notes scored that same as those that attended the lecture. Those in the podcasting group that took notes averaged 77%.

These results would certainly be different in a K-12 environment. But, it makes sense that when students can pause, rewind, and rewatch a lecture they learn the material better. Podcasting lecture material has the added benefit of changing what can be accomplished during class time.


Help Gina - Answer 12 Questions

Please help Gina with her research on handhelds::

I am a teacher in the Detroit Public Schools in Detroit, Michigan. I am currently working to finish my Master of Educational Technology degree from Lawrence Technological University. I have completed all of my coursework and now I am writing my thesis. I am looking for educators who currently use handheld computers in the classroom with their students to complete a brief survey (12 questions). The survey is being used to gather basic information about types of handhelds and applications used as well as teachers feelings about the value of handhelds as educational tools.

If you are interested, please click the following link to access the survey.
Teacher Link: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s.aspx?sm=rhhKoa1cTBVZemo5K4dXEQ_3d_3d

There is also a student survey. If there are any students (K-12) who currently use handhelds in their classroom and may be interested in completing a brief survey, the following link is for the student survey.
Student Link: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s.aspx?sm=pOe5_2bSH6YcI3MIyN_2bUd1Eg_3d_3d

Thank you so much to anyone who is willing to take a few minutes of your valuable time to help me with this project.

If you have further questions you may contact me at gina.wilcox@detroitk12.org.

Gina Wilcox


Learning2Go Phase 2 Report

Learning2Go ReportThere's more evidence that handhelds improve student learning. Wolverhampton's Learning 2 Go partnership in the United Kingdom released a report at the end of 2006. The 46-page End of Phase 2 Report is full of notable facts, figures, charts, and recommendations:

  • The number of schools in the Learning 2 Go project expanded dramatically in Phase 2, the academic year 2005-2006, from approximately ninety handheld devices in use to over a thousand.
  • Handhelds are not the not 'magic answer' but effective use is conditional on other aspects of effective teaching, class management, as well as school culture.
  • In general progress is not so good [in secondary schools] and baseline achievement has not yet been established by all schools.
  • There is almost no evidence of distraction from established learning approaches caused by devices as feared by some teachers.
  • Attendance at school appears to be significantly improved, certainly in Primary schools, which was notable against the general trend across the Authority [school district]. Attendance for boys was shown to be more improved than for girls.
  • There was evidence that a school's ability to manage innovation and change at the highest levels was critical to success.
  • Year 6 students achieved 5 percentage point increase in science, 3.5 increase in math, and -1 point increase in English. No explanation is available for the English outcomes, but the report offers further insights.
  • Mini-Computers Bring Test Boost was published by BBC News and briefly shares some of the report's results. Dave Whyley from the project is quoted, "Attendance figures have gone up. We're also seeing boys switched on to reading. They like e-books. One boy read his e-book until his battery went flat on his PDA at night."
  • The report includes lots more information, including examples of what students and teachers are doing with their handhelds, parent reactions, technical issues, and much data analysis.
  • The key message for all audiences remains that unless current PDAs and software are implemented with a well prepared and structured support framework; then the successes seen in the Wolverhampton project will not be realised.
With the success of the partnership, we can look forward to more reports and resources from Learning 2 Go. Something we do know from research is that achievement gains do not come until a teacher's second year of handheld implementation. For more sources of research and studies, visit the Research Web Links page.


Learning with Handheld Technologies Handbook

Handheld HandbookFuturelab is a nonprofit U.K. organization committed to sharing the lessons learned from research and development in order to inform positive change to educational policy and practice. Last month Futurelab published the handbook Learning with Handheld Technologies. The 35 page PDF has implementation ideas and detailed case reports. This handheld book is useful for schools just starting to explore handheld computing and for schools who want to improve their current program. It's based on two years of research from the University of Bristol, which observed and interviewed some of the leading practitioners of handheld learning in the UK.

The second page of the handbook lists the key recommendations from the research.

  • There should be an authentic purpose with clear learning goals.
  • It is harder and takes more time to manage a small set of devices than it is to manage models of use where each learner "owns" their own.
  • Professional development is very important. A collaborative community of practice that involves the whole school will help embed handheld technologies in the curriculum.
  • Wireless internet connectivity is preferred because it makes the devices much more useful.
  • Schools need to figure out long term storage of students' data as they will produce so much work it won't all fit on the devices.
  • Spare handhelds should be on-hand for quick replacement of broken units.
  • Teaching styles must accommodate personal ownership of learning.
  • Successful projects used handhelds for accessing content and for producing projects.
  • Adoption of handhelds goes smoothly when integrated with with existing technologies like interactive whiteboards, software, and data projectors.
All of the recommendations in Learning with Handheld Technologies seem to apply to all school technologies, not just handheld devices. The handbook also contains a listing of many handheld learning projects from around the globe. The projects include all kinds of devices like Palm handhelds, Pocket PCs, and iPods. You can download the PDF or request a free hard copy of Futurelab's handbook.


Research Study Results on Handheld Computing!

Just in time for NECC, GoKnow Learning released scientifically-based research that demonstrates handheld computer use in K-12 classrooms leads to student achievement gains. The research will help schools nationwide secure funding for handheld computing!

Two research studies were conducted by the University of Michigan. One looked at simple recall of math facts in two third grade classrooms. The University of Michigan developed a game called Skills Arena for GameBoy where students practice basic math facts. One class used the handheld games while the other used flashcards. And the results?

  • In the five-week instruction with the handheld, the handheld game group (HG) outperformed the flash card group (CG). The HG students performed 7 percent better than those of the CG group on the gain scores from pre-test to post-test.
  • In the five-week instruction, the low-achieving students using the handheld performed 11 percent better than the flash card group. Thus, Skills Arena helped the low-achieving students; Skills Arena was a way for low-achieving students to succeed just like the high-achieving students.
The other study looked at science concepts and procedures in a two year study in three seventh grade classrooms in Detroit. The study looked at three different science units. The study had some students using handhelds with GoKnow's Handheld Learning Environment while others did not. However, the tasks were the same. For instance, handheld users would make a concept map in PiCoMap while the non-using class would make the map on paper. [Dr. Elliot Soloway talked about this research last week at the Lexington Handheld Computer Conference.] The results:
  • In the first year of using handheld devices, the handheld groups performed 2 percent better than the paper and pencil groups did in combing all gains (%) of three units.
  • In the second year of using handheld devices, the handheld groups performed 13 percent better than the paper and pencil groups did in the combined gain score (%) of three units.
If you are trying to convince someone to fund getting handhelds in the hands of your students, be sure to cite this research. In fact, GoKnow has one-page snapshots about each of these studies. While you're at it, read GoKnow's research results announcement.