You know from experience that when you enjoy a subject, learning about that subject is easier, more fun, and you retain the information longer. Getting kids to enjoy learning is more productive to education efforts than spending more money, lengthening school days, you name it. This is the reason many educators are excited about the possibilities inherent to the iPad.
More than 600 school districts in America have brought iPads into the classroom. Had they waited a bit longer, they could have taken advantage of studies like these to know whether the iPad movement is the wave of the future of education, or a waste of valuable resources.
18 Snapshots Of iPad Integration In Education
1. Motion Math in Class: An assistant professor of education at USC’s Rossier School oversaw this study looking at whether having students play a learning game to teach them fractions increased their knowledge. Just five days of playing Motion Math for 20 minutes each day raised fifth graders’ fractions test scores 15%, and also raised their “liking” of fractions by 10%.
2. HMH Fuse Algebra 1: In September 2010, textbook publisher Houghton Mifflin Harcourt packaged its Algebra 1 book as an iPad app called HMH Fuse Algebra 1. The company donated 400 iPads loaded with the app to schools in four California school districts. After a full school year of study, the results showed nearly 20% more iPad users than non-iPad users scored “proficient” or better on the district algebra exam.
3. ACU Connected: Abilene Christian University is on the forefront of experimentation with technology in their college classrooms. Through the ACU Connected program, they have conducted several studies on the iPad. Among their results: students who annotate text on the iPad score 25% higher on questions involving transferring information. Researchers have also learned using an iPad raises student satisfaction levels because of the ease of use and varied features.
4. Beyond Textbooks: In late 2010, Virginia’s education department began an experimental program of giving iPads to social studies students in grades four, seven, and nine to test its viability as a learning tool. They found that the technology increased both student independence and collaboration, and allowed teachers to be more facilitators than fact-deliverers.
5. Pepperdine University: Although the study won’t conclude until the end of 2011, preliminary findings of experimental iPad programs at Pepperdine have echoed the findings of increased student engagement, as the college kids with iPads became more involved with the material and with each other. But they have also found students will not make use of apps unless they are required to by an instructor.
6. Reed College iPad study: Reed’s iPad experiment was a follow-up to a test-run of using Kindles in the classroom, partly to see if the iPad better met students’ needs. Students approved of the iPad’s portability and readability, but admitted the many features were a tempting distraction in large classes. They also strongly favored the iPad for annotating text and referring to notes for in-class discussions.
7. Step Forward iPad Pilot Project: Researchers at Trinity College tested the iPad in the classroom along with netbooks, e-readers, and an Android tablet. They found 80% of students preferred the iPad, but that the devices are not adequate replacements for laptops or desktops, but rather a supplement. The project was enough of a success that the school opted to provide all students with iPads in 2012.
8. iPad Initiative at the University of Minnesota: In the largest pilot program in the country, in 2011 U of M handed out iPads to every incoming freshman to the College of Education and Human Development. Students liked the tablets overall but like those at Trinity felt laptops work better for homework. African-American students reported the highest improvement in their learning experience by using the iPad.
9. Notre Dame e-reader study: Educators at Notre Dame have been focusing on creating an environment for simple, free creation and sharing of e-materials. Their experience with loaning students iPads has led them to believe its greatest strength is its ability to aggregate information and lead students to more knowledge than a textbook could. The iPad’s portability allowed for spur-of-the-moment research and discussion that wouldn’t be possible with traditional media.
10. Oklahoma State University iPad Pilot Program: OSU experimented with iPads in five classes in the fall of 2010. Students here expected to use the e-reader function much more than they actually ended up doing so. Three-fourths of the participants agreed the devices enhance their learning experience, and even felt iPads trumped laptops for certain professional uses.
11. University of Cincinnati: Cinci’s Faculty Technology Resources Center was tasked with loaning iPads to instructors who requested them. The Center’s findings from the program led them to believe that although the iPad “is not destined to change the face of education” in the science, math, and technology fields, instructors with a clear objective for iPads can derive benefit from incorporating them into their teaching.
12. Unlocking Literacy with iPad: James Harmon, an English teacher in Cleveland, split up the students from three classes into two groups, one with access to iPads and one without. He discovered the students with access were more likely to pass reading and writing standardized tests, had more motivation to learn, and wrote longer essays on the iPad than they would on paper.
13. Gibbon-Fairfax-Winthrop High School: This school in Minnesota distributed 375 iPads to students and counted the experiment enough of a success to continue. Something they learned that they did not expect was the way students would become so used to having teachers respond to emails sent from their iPads. The school had to set up boundaries for protecting the teachers’ personal time.
14. University of Toronto: Dr. Rhonda McEwen of the University of Toronto has been using touch-screen technology since 2009 to teach autistic children how to communicate. While she admits the science has a long way to go, she and others in the field have found the iPad’s ability to swipe and click and manipulate the screen is improving the communications skills of non-verbal kids.
15. Zeeland Public Schools: The experimental program to give every student in grades three through 12 in Zeeland, Mich., an iPad produced similar results to other programs: teachers raved about its ability to engage students and let them focus on teaching, not managing. But the issue of child safety came up with this program. One parent questioned if giving kids the mobile devices violates the Child Internet Protection Act, and the question is still up in the air.
16. Canby School District pilot program: This Oregon school district gave out 25 iPads to teachers and 300 to students of all grade levels to weigh the pros and cons of the technology. Officials were more unfavorable than most, citing many students’ dislike of using the touch screen for extended periods, their so-so rating of satisfaction with the overall experience, and unavailability of digital textbooks to replace hard-copy materials.
17. The Educational Potential of Mobile Computing in the Field: Researchers studied the use of mobile devices, including iPads and HP tablet PCs, in the field with students in three different classes at Vassar College, Trinity University, and Lawrence University. They felt the fragility of the iPad, the lack of a pen for annotating, and the fact that the apps are not intended for data creation prevent the iPad from being suitable for an educational tool outside.
18. Stanford School of Medicine: Hoping to curb the need for printed materials, Stanford’s School of Medicine lent an iPad to every student in August 2010. The experiment here was a failure; students did not like to use them in class, and half the student body stopped using them altogether just weeks into the year. The school had no choice but to resume printing hard-copy notes.