Benefits of iPads in classrooms outweigh the problems: study

Here is the Gazette version of the La Presse article I published at the beginning of the week. It is an interesting example of how two newspapers took the same study and put their own spin on it. The La Presse article leaves you with the feeling that we are all doomed- that the iPad is only  a distraction factory and that the state of education is crumbling before our techno-blurred eyes.

The Gazette article chooses to emphasize the benefits of the iPad and everything it can do, while sandwiching the distraction between the benefits of the iPad and ways teachers are finding to negotiate their students’ distraction.

Here is a link to the full report. It sounds like it might be best to read it and make up our own minds…

(Also-for an iPad study in Montreal, why weren’t we included?)

See on Scoop.itipadyoupad

Thierry Karsenti remembers the intense look in the young girl’s eyes when he moved to take her iPad away. “My Precious!” she said, Gollum-like, clutching the tablet to her chest.

See on www.montrealgazette.com

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Grade 7 iPad Survey: Conclusions

LESSONS LEARNED

Discipline

Personally, I was very surprised to hear how many students wanted more discipline. They don’t want to be distracted in class; they know that they are shooting themselves in the foot when they do. But they are also young and need to practice managing their time and their own distractions (for some this is a lifelong challenge).

I was also pleasantly surprised at how many students self-regulated their use. From the students (there were a couple of them) who took the initiative to delete the games from their iPad because their addiction was getting out of control, to the student who was grateful to her parents for taking away her iPad when she didn’t need it at home, the students are also finding their own solutions.

I think the biggest lesson we learned this year was that we need to implement a very structured protocol when it comes to iPads in the classroom. We are starting to work on this for next year but here is the general idea:

1. When the student walks into the classroom, the iPads should be closed and either on the corner of the desk or underneath in the seat’s basket (depending on how the classroom furniture looks like).

2. Notifications should be on do not disturb mode for the school day. In fact notifications at all should be kept to a minimum. We will show the students how to do this either on their orientation day or in the first classes of multimedia. We will also add this to the parent workshop we are planning on having in the fall.

3. Whenever internet is not needed for a class, airplane mode should be used. Obviously, this needs to be checked periodically as the students can easily switch back, but given the fact that most students do not want to be distracted, this should help.

4. Reconfigure the classrooms as much as possible to allow the teacher to be able to easily see what is on the screens of their students.

5. At the beginning of the year, review with the students, parents and staff the disciplinary consequences associated with using technology inappropriately. This is already laid out in our student handbook, but for some reason our brains disconnected and I think many of us forgot to apply the rules to the iPad.

6. Remember that it is hard even for adults to remain focus when our machines can do so much and that it takes practice and discipline- two thing that do not come naturally to many people. A prescriptive approach (eg. guided access, banning games, and social media) will not give the students the practice they need to be able to manage the digital world.

Technical Considerations

1. Although most of the students like the iPad and did everything on it, it is good to give them a choice whenever possible. For example, some students work better with a paper agenda than online (though the ones who still use the paper agenda did so out of a paranoid fear of losing their data, not because they preferred writing by hand). Having a couple of print copies, whether it be the agenda or a workbook might be helpful.

2. Having said that, most of the students are very happy and eager to go paperless. They enjoy having their notes on the iPad because it means they are less likely to forget them at home. Anything we can do to go paperless I think will be well-received by the students.

3. External keyboard. We are in the midst of updating our iPad FAQs to recommend an external keyboard. The cheap, squishy kind was proven time and again to break easily- the students with the hard keyboards attached by a case to their iPad like it the best.

 

In the Classroom

1. List of apps that compliment the program: students were asking for more apps related to the subject matter. For example a calculator app or to know in advance what Shakespeare app they will need.

2. They also asked to use it more in the classroom. The trick is to find how it can enhance a project or a lesson and use it for that, and not only for the sake of using it, a distinction that is perhaps lost on the grade seven students…

And this concludes the great iPad surveys of 2013!

 

Grade 7 iPad Survey: Results! Part 5

Question #9: What do you think the school could do to make the use of the iPad better for students? 

This was not a mandatory question. 19 students answered and 13 skipped the question. I have separated the comments into three broad categories- comments that have to do with how we can support them in their learning, comments about discipline and distraction and the no complaints section. Here is a quick graph of how many comments we received in each category:

Make it better

SUPPORT AND LEARNING

“The school can have an app to show the new students how to get used to the school. A how to app…”

 

“More tips like how to turn off notifications during the day.”

NOTE: When the students told me that notifications were distracting them, I showed them how to turn the notifications off during the school day. They were all very grateful…

“I know we had a list of school apps, maybe we could have more apps that we need for each class. For example, a calculator app or know in advance the shakespeare app that we need. Have a more comprehensive required app list.”

 

“I personally don’t like the ipad. If they would give us individual keyboards, that would make a big difference. Send an email home to parents saying had ot get them.”

 

“Using it a bit more in French classes. ”

 

“We could use it a lot more in classes. We use a lot of paper when we could use it on the ipad.”

 

“Maybe give us more resources if we have to do a project instead of having to find a website , or maybe an app that can give info.”

DISCIPLINE

For certain classes if you don’t need the ipad to turn the internet off in the room…

NOTE: I don’t think this is possible. It is  possible however to turn the internet off the iPads…

“[The teachers] should take our ipads and put them on their desk so we don’t get distracted.”

 

“Make it so you can’t use an app during the day so you can’t access games or facebook or twitter.”

 

“Tell [the students] they can’t download too many games. Games distracts us…”

 

“Personally, I wouldn’t get ipads for next year, because I come into class and everyone is on their ipads…You ask them what they are doing and they say they are playing together…”

 

“Limit the amount of apps you can buy. Arranging the seats so the teacher sits in back of us…”

 

“Without getting distracted I think we should sit in a certain way where the teachers can see our ipads because you can miss a lot of info if you are playing games.”

 

“You know when you can see what everyone is doing on the ipad. Put all the ipads on airplane mode during class.”

 

“I was told that snapchat and instagram was banned but I still see people [using these apps] as well as games. A lot of the time in class, I will see at least three people playing a game when they are supposed to be doing their work. The teachers need to reinforce it more.”

 

“Maybe take the ipads away for awhile if you don’t need them during class. I would find that helpful…”

 

NO COMPLAINTS OR I DON’T KNOW

“I think it is already pretty good. No complaints about the ipad itself. ”

 

“Don’t know. Feel supported.”

#10: Any additional comments?

For this question, many of them had nothing to say so I ask them if they liked the iPad. here were the results of that query:

Do you like the iPad

 

Here are  the actual, unprovoked additional comments I received:

“I feel like it is my own responsibility to manage my own distractions. I have no complaints about the ipad.”

 

“I like the ipad but I would rather have a l laptop because it is easier. It stays open but sometimes apps automatically shut down and don’t open to the spot where you where you were at.”

 

“I think the ipad is a cool idea. At my old school smartboards were the coolest thing. Bt this year ipads are the coolest thing.”

 

“I like computers better because it has less distractions. The app store has so many games. But it is lighter to carry.”

 

“I don’t think we should use them next year.
Suggestion: have a tech free day or week. No tech during school hours. ”

 

“I really like the ipad but I think it is very distracting. From what I see the schools that don’t have the ipad are more successful. They have less distractions.”

 

“I don’t like the ipad because it is very addicting, they take up a lot of your time and I don’t like touchscreen and you can’t use flash.”

 

“I would rather have laptops because it is harder to hide laptops. Not a lot of games that you can play won your laptop. Laptop would be less distracting. I find I also make a lot of mistakes with the ipad. ”

 

“For music no, because there is no smart music for ipads. But otherwise I like it. You like the feeling of the typing and how light it is.”

NOTE: smart music just launched their iPad app for students. Our music teacher is testing it out to see if it is worth getting…

“One thing: for the cases with the keyboard. A lot of people bought a case with a spongy keyboard and they all got a new case for keyboard. For future years suggest a good case. I use a targus with a hard keyboard.
I find it useful. For example, an ipad can do almost as much as a laptop but is cheaper, more portable and lighter.”

 

“I like the ipad but worry about the time I spend on it.”

 

“I like the ipad but I think for the next grade I would suggest getting a keyboard it is easier to use.”

 

“I find it very useful and much more portable than a laptop but upsetting when people are not using it appropriately and the whole class gets punished for that one person’s misuse.
More managing of notifications.
Group work can be hard if group mate is distracted by notifications and is not listening to instructions.
Also would like to have some support that encourages socializing instead of ipadding…
Maybe try to find a way to shut the game notifications.
This year’s grade 7s should be a role model for next year’s grade sevens on how to use it responsibly.”

 

“It is a great yet horrible thing. Useful but distracting…”

 

“I think they should ban mindcraft because students pretend to take notes but are actually playing mindcraft.”

 

“I think we should have a limit to how many games on our ipad…”

Phew. And that folks, concludes the data part of this survey.

Next post: So what do we do with all this data?

 

Grade 7 iPad Survey: Results! Part 4

Question #6: What was your favourite class project where you had to use the iPad?

ProjectFavourite

The least favourite?    

ProjectLeastfavourite

This question was interesting in how it said nothing much about the iPads and a whole lot about the students.  The students who loved the multimedia projects tended to hate the word processing activities and vice versa. here is a sampling of their responses:

 

 

Favourite: multimedia the animation one

Least favourite: Making a brochure for english

 

favourite: horror movie for multimedia

Least favourite: using pages and keynote

And then the other side:

Favourite: the writing assignments for english using pages

least favourite: I did not like multimedia

 

Favourite: small story for multimedia where I had to learn pages.

Least favourite: animation project for multimedia.

However, it was also interesting to hear why they didn’t like certain projects. Most often it was because they did not find the app intuitive, or they simply did not know how to work it.

Here is a sampling of some of the reasons why they did  or did not like a project:

“Least favourite: English: filming for the interview. When you have to put together photo collages and slideshows. It was hard.”

This comment is referring to the background documentary project I had them do at the beginning of the year. Personally, I take this comment as a compliment- it was meant to be challenging!

“Least favourite: I find it is hard to do research on the ipad because it is a smaller screen and I feel more disorganised on my ipad than I do on my computer…”

 

“The least favourite: english elizabethan project, big and a lot of writing and hard to keep track.”

 

“least favourite: the science project now because you have to have it in 32 font and it prints wrong.”

 

“Least favourite: the blog project was hard to do on ipad. I was also having trouble saving my work.”

The above two examples are examples of where some troubleshooting help would have been handy.

Least favourite: animation creator because you have to draw every single little thing again and again. 60 frames.

 

“least favourite: the movie make thing because it was hard to edit on the ipad.”

 

“Least favourite: probably  Geo when we had to use keynote for our presentation. We just had to do it but did not get to present it.”

 

“Least favourite: when you just have to be typing up reports. I love to write but I like it to be more hands on. Like making a presentation.”

 

“Least favourite: Anytime the project consists of simply writing text on pages. It is boring. ”

 

“Least favourite: Science project. Astronomy project because I had to carry around both books and ipad.”

 

“Favourite: in science we had to make a pamphlet. I transferred the template from my computer to ipad.”

 

“I liked it in art when we had to draw on the ipad and then follow steps and do certain things in this app called sketchbook. I also liked the english project where we had to research a different religion.
In geography I didn’t like how we had a picture and had to answer questions but couldn’t have them on the same screen.”

It is interesting to learn about what the students liked doing and what they didn’t like so much. A lot of the times they don’t enjoy it because A) they don’t know how to work it, B) they are experiencing technical difficulties and need support C) it doesn’t fit their personality (they prefer writing to making animations or vice versa).

Next up: #9: What do you think the school could do to make the use of the iPad better for students? 

Grade 7 iPad Survey: Results! Part 3

Question #5: 

A) What is your favourite thing about the iPad?  

favourite thing about the iPad

NOTE: As this was an open-ended question, I grouped the answers into some broad categories. However, I thought it would be helpful to hear what the students said in their own words about a few of the points in order to get a more nuanced view of the data:

Versatility:

“[My favourite thing is] the little brain it has that it can do almost anything you ask it to.”

 

“My favourite thing is that it has a lot of things you can do on it but it is not as bulky as a computer.”

 

“I like how we use pages instead of writing by hand, I also like that there is apps for a lot of things we do, eg. Periodic table for science.. .I like how you can read books on the ipad.”

Portability:

“I like how light it is and how easy it is to put in your back pack.”

 

“It is light and portable and really easy to access stuff because of the apps and easy to use.”

 

” I like how it is small and easy to carry around.”

Organisation:

“I like it because when I get paper I lose the paper but with the ipad it is easier to stay organised. Also my handwriting is terrible so when I type I can read what I am doing. I also like the games.”

 

“[I like how] you can read off ibooks if you forget your paper schoolwork and need it.”

 

” I like how it is organised and I am not losing papers. Everything is on my ipad.”

Other interesting comments:

 “I like writing on it, it is faster than doing it on a piece of paper. i like how it is small and easy to carry around.”

 

” I like how we take notes on it for science class. I like how we do projects on it.”

 

“It is easy to bring places. I find I learn new something everyday. I find pages easier to use on ipad than computer. Also more portable.”

 

Most of the students enjoyed how versatile and portable the iPad is. However, as in most cases, the best thing about it is also the most challenging thing:

B) What is your least favourite thing?  

leastfavourite thing

The main criticism about the iPad parallels the teachers’ main problem with it (and, by the way, the rest of the world): Apple’s blood feud with Flash. They are frustrated that some of the websites they need or look at do not work on the iPad.

But the second thing is the flip side of the versatility comment: it has so many things on it it is distracting. It is important to note, that the students were not always talking about their own distraction but that of their colleagues.

Here it is in their own words:

“It does not have flash and it is distracting always having everything on it.”

 

“It can be distracting when you are trying to do work and your friend messages you.”

 

“You always have something constantly coming at you: between all the social media there is always something coming. Which is great when you want it but makes it hard to focus.”

 

“[I don’t like] the addiction it has on some people, when people can’t really get off it.”

 

“The fact that it is an ipad. More tech means less face to face talk.”

Other interesting comments:

 

“That it makes people more paranoid. They seem to trust you less- they suspect the worse. For example, I flip from pages to safari a lot when doing a project and because the teacher can see the colour changing they immediately suspect I am playing games.”

 

“It freezes a lot because of some websites and it deletes my work even though I press save. [The] camera deleted [my work] but it was in the beginning and I probably didn’t know what I was doing.”

I appreciated the thoughtfulness most of the Grade 7 displayed when answering the questions. They were able to pinpoint the exact way the iPad is meant to be useful (portability, versatility) and also identify the problems with it. The fact that they identify their own distraction as well as that of their classmates is particularly telling. But more on that in the following posts!

Next post…#6: What was your favourite class project where you had to use the iPad? The least favourite?

Grade 7 iPad Survey: Results! Part 2

Let’s continue with the results of the survey , shall we? Today will be the behemoth question, the 5 parter…

GENERAL NOTE: It is important to remember that these are the students’ perceptions only. Many of them who have the exact same schedule gave very different answers.

8. Out of 5 daily classes, how frequently:    

  • do you use the iPad for note-taking?

notetaking

 

NOTE: The results for this one could be explained in part by the fact that for many of their classes in Grade 7 they are not required to take notes. The ones who said they take notes in only one class unanimously said that it was for science.

  • do you use the iPad for research?

Research

 

NOTE: This is a good example of different perceptions- the answers to this question varied a lot given that they all have about the same classes.

  • does the teacher use it for instruction?

Teacher

  • do you use the iPad for a specific project?

specific project

  • do you get distracted from your class work?

Distraction

 

NOTE: This was an interesting question. As you will see in the following questions, many students cited the distraction of others as a hinderance, yet the majority claimed they only got distracted 1 out 5 classes. Hmmm… Curious. Very very curious…. But more on this in the following posts!

Grade 7 iPad Survey: Results! Part 1

Here are a few of the easily quantified results of the Grade 7 iPad survey:

#2: What do you use for your school agenda:
School agenda 1

Note: Calendar and reminders refer to the built-in apps that comes with the iPad. The person who said other uses Pages for their agenda. I am not sure how well that works out for them…

Here is a graphic that shows the number of students who use their built-in iPad apps as opposed to the paper agenda:

School Agenda

Which means that about 75% of students use their iPads as an agenda.

#3: Do you Use an External Keyboard?

External Keyboard

Note: This is a bit skewed as a few of the students who said no said they started with a keyboard but it broke early on in the year. Most of those who had broken keyboards were using the “squishy” or soft keyboards. They did mention that they are trying to convince their parents to purchase a harder keyboard as they felt it significantly enhanced their iPad user experience.

#4: In a typical week, how many hours do you read on the iPad or otherwise?

REAding

Note: As I mentioned last post, the students had trouble answering this. Part of this problem was that the librarian was giving them the survey and they felt that there might be a “right” answer. I tried to assure them that there was no judgment but I don’t think I was successful. Also, many of the students cited the busy-ness of the school year eating away at their reading time. Although many of the students like to read, they feel they don’t have time.

#7Outside of the school day, how many hours do you spend using your iPad?  

Hours oniPadNote: though I tried to tell the students not to include the time spent on homework, I don’t think they were able to separate the two. The ones who did cited the fact that they did everything on their iPad from leisure reading to games to social networking to homework. I was also surprised at how many students said they only spent about an hour a night on it. A lot of them said that they liked to do other things when they get home.