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The Single Most Important Factor for iPad Success in Schools

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

Reader Comments (4)

It is so important for students to feel a sense of ownership for the devices they use in class! I'm glad a study was able to reveal this as fact.On the student side, I would definitely say that a sense of ownership is the most important aspect of a 1:1 classroom. However, on the teacher side, professional development is crucial. Without the proper knowledge, teachers won't know how to best use these new devices to their fullest. Definitely a two sided issue.

November 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMegan

iPads has changed the approach in education department among students as well as teachers

November 28, 2012 | Unregistered Commentershubhangi

Thank you, Tony, for finding and sharing this research. Until such a time where tablets can support multiple user logins, then 1-1 is the best way to go. Apparently, the Nexus line of tablets allow for multiple users. I wonder how the research might change when students were able to login and have their own preferenes and dashboards showing. That would certainly help school boards get the most out of the devices. Certainly, multiple users would solve the problem of scalability which we currently face with 1-1 deployment.
I think it is really important that this research be shared and that it prompts educators, particularly leaders in education, to move towards BYOT/BYOD. With cloud computing, networking and the connectivity of learning it is becoming increasingly important for each person to have her own device to consume, create and share.
Thanks for this informative and highly useful post.
Michelle @cordym

January 2, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMichelle Cordy @cordym

I wholeheartedly agree with Tony's findings in this article. I have a one-to-one classroom with iPads assigned to individual owners. My learners and I set our goal early in the year to make the devices as ubiquitous as a pencil in our room and each day we get closer to this goal. Having students (mine are second graders) responsible for the device and have ownership of it lays the foundation for nearly everything we are doing.
My school also has a cart of devices to share between other classrooms. This cart sits largely unused in the media center. The few brave souls who have attempted to use the devices in their classrooms cite numeroous issues - connection to wireless network, varying levels of student knowledge of device, apps, etc., and required "tech support" from the teacher - that end in frustration. Meanwhile, in my one-to-one room where the device is available on-demand I see all the pedagogical shifts mentioned above happen on a daily basis - along with a group of highly motiviated and engaged learners.
Professional development for teachers and collective ownership of the devices for students would raise the acountability level and promote the use of shared devices in the classroom.

January 5, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPaul @pstolt1

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