The BBC reports that young children’s maths, English and communication skills improve if they use iPads in school on a regular basis.
That is one of the key findings of the most in-depth research of its kind ever carried out in Northern Ireland. The study – Mobile Devices in Early Learning – was carried out over two years and involved about 650 pupils in five Belfast primary schools and five nursery schools.
Schools which took part were in some of the most deprived areas of the city. They were each supplied with sets of iPads for nursery, primary one, primary two and primary three classes.
Researchers from Stranmillis University College then assessed how pupils, parents, principals and teachers used them over the course of two years.
Among their key findings were that:
- The introduction of digital technology has had a positive impact on the development of children’s literacy and numeracy skills
- Contrary to initial expectations, principals and teachers report that the use of ipads in the classroom has enhanced children’s communication skills
- Children view learning using handheld devices as play and are more highly motivated, enthused and engaged
- Boys appear to be more enthused when using digital technology, particularly when producing pieces of written work
Dr Colette Gray from Stranmillis, who was one of the study’s authors said, “It’s not a panacea or the holy grail, but is another method to reach children who might otherwise underachieve,” she added “There was actually an increase in communication in the classroom, which we didn’t initially anticipate.”.
The principal of Elmgrove, Joanne Jeffers, said using iPads had improved many pupils’ academic performance. “All of the children we have in school now have been born knowing about smartphone technology and mobile technology. We have a duty as a school to prepare children for their future and that includes digital learning.”
The study also found that although some teachers were initially nervous, many had developed their own confidence by using iPads extensively in class. There were concerns, however, that parents needed to know more about the safe use of technology if young children were using one outside school.
Does your school use tablets in the classroom? Have you seen an positive impact on the development of your pupils literacy and numeracy skills? Please tell us your thoughts in comments or via Twitter ~ Tamsin
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