iPads in the Classroom: Analysis, Strategies and Evaluation

Analysis:
The desire to work with new technology in the classroom has welcomed the inclusion of the iPad mobile device into the educational environment with a good deal of enthusiasm. Educators have been quick to acknowledge the advantages of the iPad. In his 2014 study of iPad implementation across a network of primary schools in Cardiff, UK, Gary Beauchamp wrote:
“The introduction of the iPad by Apple in 2010 provided a tablet which allowed pupils to make high quality sound and video recordings, take high-definition photographs, research on the Internet, type up the reports and presentations and much more, all in one device which could be connected both to a network and to a classroom projector. It had always been possible to do these things, but in the past it required a range of different devices (with associated cables) and methods of downloading data. Now, the iPad (and indeed other tablets) can act as a multimodal, mobile hub to replace all these devices and could be used with a very large, and ever-increasing, number of educational apps.” (Beauchamp, p. 6).

The promise of the iPad has been quickly recognized throughout the educational community, but there are a number of challenges which are also widely acknowledged, most notably the cost of implementing the device on a sizable portion of the student population.

Analysis flowchart for iPad needs in the classroom

As I reviewed my flowchart, I discovered that the “performance needs” were most often mentioned in the reviews, surveys and journals I found posted online. One study in particular, created by Thierry Karsenti and Aurelien Fievez and entitled, The iPad in Education: Uses, Benefits, and Challenges – A Survey of 6,057 Students and 302 Teachers in Quebec (Canada), was the most comprehensive and impressive of the studies, with pages of detailed data. Karsenti and Fievez wrote:
The findings demonstrate that using the iPad at school provided many benefits, as highlighted by both students and teachers:

  • Increased student motivation
  • Greater access to information
  • Portability of the device
  • Ease of making notes on PDF documents
  • Ease of organizing work
  • Quality of students’ presentations
  • Quality of teachers’ presentations
  • Greater collaboration among students, and between students and teachers
  • More creativity
  • Variety of resources used (images, videos, applications, etc.)
  • Students can work at their own pace
  • Development of students’ IT skills
  • Development of teachers’ IT skills
  • Improved reading experience
  • Teachers can cut down on paper (p. 38)

    The study then listed the challenges the authors discovered with implementation of the iPad. I have included their lengthy explanations of the challenges, because of the good information within each challenge. Karsenti and Fievez wrote:
    1. The greatest challenge for the teachers, who found it a major headache, was that the iPads provided a distraction for the students. They enabled the students to do something other than listen to the teacher, and perhaps too easily so. Even at a young age, the students soon discovered the iMessage and networking functions that diverted their attention so frequently.
    2. Many students and teachers stressed that they had problems writing lengthy texts with the iPads.
    3. In line with the above challenge, it must be noted that the iPads did not make learning to write per se easier. One notable problem was that the devices and applications did not yet include all the help features in a single application. Therefore, learning to write appears to be a major drawback of the iPad. Although the various iPad applications helped younger students practice forming their letters, once they passed that stage, the resources were less useful and more complicated compared to those typically found on computers.
    4. Many students and teachers felt that some of the textbooks were unsuitable for working with iPads. For example, they might require continuous Internet access.
    5. Many teachers also spoke about the challenges of planning their courses. It is not so easy to make the transition from a physical book to the iPad, and some found the transition too rapid.
    6. Organizing the students’ work was very challenging for some teachers. Many platforms were involved, and numerous teachers had the impression that they were doing three times the work, and that in the end, it was more complicated than when they used traditional paper and pencil.
    7. Many teachers were poorly informed about the resources that were available for the iPad.
    8. In addition, the e-books were underused. And yet, this is a flagship function of the iPad. In fact, the results showed that less than 3% of the students reported that they read books on their iPad screen.
    9. Lastly, many students and teachers mentioned that because they were distracted by the iPads, their academic performance suffered. (Karsenti and Fievez, p. 39).

What promise, and at the same time, how problematic could implementation of the iPads become? For further insight, a review of stakeholder strategies was in order!

Phase 2: Strategies
Problem Statements and Solutions
I have listed the challenges identified by stakeholders in “The iPad in Education: Uses, Benefits, and Challenges” study. Each problem statement is written in bold text. I then researched solutions for these issues, and have written applicable resource information in italic text below each problem statement.
1. The iPads provide a distraction for the students. They enable the students to do something other than listen to the teacher, and perhaps too easily so.
When there are problems with digital distractions in the classroom, tackle the myth of multitasking directly with a lesson plan on attention and focus. This lesson doesn’t have to take too long, and should encompass active learning.
2. Many students and teachers stress that they have problems writing lengthy texts with the iPads.
Ulysses 2.1, is a new app designed specifically for longer text writing on the iPad and is advertised as the iPad’s “complete writing solution.” The latest version exports in the docx format, which is compatible with MS Word.
3. The iPads do not make learning to write easier. One notable problem was that the devices and applications did not yet include all the help features in a single application.
Ulysses 2.1 is still considered the right tool for the job, according to Craig McClellan, of the Class Nerd website. He uses it for long format writing, as well as shorter pieces.
4. Some of the textbooks are unsuitable for working with iPads. For example, they might require continuous Internet access.
Companies like VitalSource® Bookshelf create e-textbooks that can be fully downloaded, so they are readable offline. A continuous internet connection is not needed to access the downloaded books. With research, stakeholders can find the best technology for downloading and storing their e-textbooks.
5. Many teachers spoke about the challenges of planning their courses. It is not so easy to make the transition from a physical book to the iPad.
New apps, such as ”Paperless Teacher” and “Teacher Plan” for the iPad are the answer to digital course planning, while comfortable transitioning from a book to the iPad will occur as dexterity skills needed to use the iPad improves.
6. Organizing the students’ work was very challenging for some teachers. Many platforms were involved, and numerous teachers had the impression that they were doing three times the work. In the end, it was more complicated than when they used traditional paper and pencil.
New software apps have been created for instructors working with an iPad. With titles such as “Groovy Graders,” “Easy Grade,” “Teacher Toolkit” and “Grade It”, organization should become easier.
7. Many teachers were poorly informed about the resources that were available for the iPad.
Encourage teachers to watch video podcasts that teach about available resources for the iPad. Many instructors don’t feel they have time to surf the internet looking for new apps, and then studying the apps uses. Watching a video tutorial can share a lot of information in a short amount of time.
8. The e-books were underused. And yet, this is a flagship function of the iPad.
Encouraging a love of reading can extend to the iPad e-book. Online magazines and comic books provide opportunities for reading practice. Games that involve written instructions or correspondence with a student pen pal can encourage students to read, too.

Addressing each challenge is essential to the successful integration of the iPad, but with careful planning and the sharing of intellectual resources, instructors have a strong set of tools to overcome these obstacles. As stated in the study, Getting Started: Classroom Ideas for Learning with the iPad (2011), research shows that integrating digital technologies into the learning environment and embedding these technologies into teacher pedagogical practice can:

● Positively impact student engagement and motivation, including improving their confidence levels, attitudes towards their own learning, and behavior as well as decreasing absenteeism.
● Promote improved opportunities for students to control the construction of knowledge and to learn through collaboration and conversation.
● Improve connections across sites of learning, and with the real world, through formal and informal online networks and access to global communities with expertise and perspectives that can enhance and enrich learning. (p. 5).

Deep learning opportunities are available in the classroom, with teachers, leadership and also at the administrative level. These strategies offer opportunities to engage students at every level of learning. They are empowered with new technology!

Phase 3: Evaluation Plan
Listed are Kirkpatrick’s model of Four Steps of Evaluation:
● Reaction – Step 1
● Learning– Step 2
● Behavior– Step 3
● Results– Step 4

The first step, Reaction, begins with a “reaction sheet”, namely a collection of responses from the students. It best demonstrates how learners feel toward the instructional experience, i.e. if the students like the learning process and feel satisfied with the material. Measuring their reaction toward the integration of iPad technology into their learning environment is the first step in developing standards that will be acceptable for both trainer and student.

Reaction – Step 1, Kirkpatrick’s model
Reaction Sheet: Survey Format

1. What grade are you in?
7 8 9 10 11 12
2. Did you have a hard time concentrating when you used the iPad in class?
Yes No
3. Were there any internet connection problems with your iPad?
Yes No
4. On a scale of 1-5 and 5 being the highest, do you think the iPad helped in your learning?
1 2 3 4 5
5. On a scale of 1-5 and 5 being the highest, did you feel at ease with using the iPad during class?
1 2 3 4 5
6. On a scale of 1-5 and 5 being the highest, did you feel experienced when solving problems with the iPad?
1 2 3 4 5
7. Would you like to have an iPad as a tool to use in your classes every day?
Yes No
8. Do you think the iPad was a distraction to learning?
Yes No
9. Do you think the apps helped you understand the material more easily?
Yes No
10. Do you think you would want to have all your text books on the iPad?
Yes No
What additional comments would you like to add about your iPad experience?

Learning – Step 2, Kirkpatrick’s model
Student Self Assessment, Survey Format

Step 2 of Kirkpatrick’s evaluation model, Learning, involves measuring how well the student has improved in attitude, knowledge and/or skill as a result of their classroom experience. Student self assessments, as well as peer group assessments can be used as tools, before and after the course training, to gauge the amount of learning accomplished.

With consideration to the three outcomes of attitude, knowledge and skill, there are numerous examples of methodologies used to measure outcome. When measuring attitude, the use of questionnaires that follow a Likert scale are often applied. Including an area for the student to
write in answers also offers an opportunity for the student to express their reaction toward classroom material.

When measuring knowledge, an achievement test with predefined parameters may be the best tool for successfully identifying the level of a student’s understanding. As an example, the use of situated learning can be included in the classroom environment, giving students real world examples of the subject matter, which can then be assimilated by the student and measured for knowledge.

To measure skills, the use of a performance test can clearly indicate how well the student is operating within the classroom. For example, requiring students to use their iPads to launch an app and research a homework assignment after the instructor has demonstrated this task, would indicate the acquiring of knowledge and a new level of student skill.

The self assessment example below is a beginning of the semester survey, with the intent of examining the student’s attitude and abilities before they begin their iPad in the classroom experience.
Student Pre-Training Self Assessment Survey

I like to work:
___ alone
___ with a partner
___ with the entire class
When I’m learning I need:
___ quiet
___ to be able to move around
___ to talk to others
When I need help:
___ I don’t like to ask for help
___ I ask a classmate
___ I ask the teacher
The type of projects I like to work on:
___ read then write a report
___ create a group project
___ use the computer to study
On a scale of 1-5 and 5 being the highest, how well do you understand how to use an iPad?
1 2 3 4 5
On a scale of 1-5 and 5 being the highest, are you able to teach your iPad skills to another student?
1 2 3 4 5
Do you know how to open an app and begin working on your own?
Yes No
Do you use an iPad or iPhone at home?
Yes No
If yes, do you listen to music or watch movies on your device?
Yes No
Please list the types of activities you use your computer for:

Behavior – Step 3, Kirkpatrick’s model
Learning Transfer

Step 3 of Kirkpatrick’s model measures the learning transfer that has occurred during the course of instruction. The actual transfer may not happen immediately, therefore the tools being used to measure the outcome need to be created with this aspect of knowledge integration in mind. Changes in behavior can be mitigated by the environment the student is coming from, the desire of the student to change as a result of the newfound knowledge, or a lack of reinforcement of the newly learned skills.
With that in mind, the evaluation of step 3, Behavior, should encompass a number of complementary steps:
● Pre and post training assessments of the student are suggested whenever practical. The pre assessment will create a baseline to measure from, and the post assessment will gather any new behavioral information.
● The assessment of a larger, peer driven group of students for use as a measure also offers insight into behavioral changes.
● The use of encouragement, praise, rewards and increased responsibility during the earlier steps in the model will encourage favorable outcomes, too.

Results – Step 4, Kirkpatrick’s model
Post Training Assessments

The final step in Kirkpatrick’s model, Results, is built upon the information gathered in the three earlier steps. The measuring of this evaluation’s information, with regard to students’ iPad use, involves the hoped for positive impact on student engagement with learning, the gathering of data to support an increase in classwork productivity, and other powerful learning outcomes.

Results can be defined in measurable terms by a post assessment classroom survey, followed by assessments that include the participation of fellow teachers and parents of the students. Using a
broad range of repeatable measurements will offer long range data for current and future stakeholder use.

Conclusion
The introduction of the iPad into the classroom is cause for excitement and anticipation of new, innovative teaching methods. Engagement, motivation and a higher standard for classwork are the hoped for benefits of this new technology. Studies are currently being conducted to prove, through data, the lasting, positive effects of this change in methodology. It may well take years of analysis, strategy and evaluation before the iPad, and other mobile devices, become common tools in the 21st century classroom, but the change has most certainly begun.

References
Beauchamp, G., Hillier, E., (2014). An evaluation of iPad implementation across a network of primary schools in Cardiff. School of Education, Cardiff Metropolitan University. Retrieved from https://www.cardiffmet.ac.uk/education/research/Documents/iPadImplementation2014.pdf
Clark, W. & Luckin, R. (2013). What the research says: iPads in the classroom. London Knowledge Lab Report. Retrieved from http://digitallearningteam.org/
Karsenti, T., & Fievez, A. (2013). The iPad in education: uses, benefits, and challenges – A survey of 6,057 students and 302 teachers in Quebec (Canada). Montreal, QC: CRIFPE.
Student Learning Division (2011). Getting Started: Classroom ideas for learning with the iPad. Department of Education and Early Childhood Development, Melbourne, Victoria. Retrieved from http://www.ipadsforeducation.vic.edu.au/
Reaction Sheet referenced from SurveyMonkey. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/sipa

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