We have recently surveyed both our Year 7 and 8 students regarding their use of the iPad in the classroom. Both surveys are very positive about the device and how it has helped in the learning process.
Our Year 7 students are experiencing their first full year with a mobile device. Some students had used the device in their primary schools but only on a shared basis. This is a brief overview of the results.
Generally students are using the device for three to four periods a day. We have a six period day. A very small percentage said they used it in every period or not at all.
History and Religion were the subjects where students used the iPad regularly while English was a standout for lack of use with nearly half the cohort indicating this as the subject where they were least likely to use the device in the classroom. Maths and Science received some support here.
The chart below gives an indication of the types of activities the device is being used for. This is a much wider range than our last survey which indicates teachers are more familiar with what the device can do and are starting to branch out into different types of uses. In the last survey the activities were centred around Internet access, copying from the board, word processing and using some of the apps like Comic Life.
The main activities used most of the time are still fairly much the same with internet access, copying from the board, using iBooks to access textbooks, using email and word processing. There seems to have been an increase in making movies and using GarageBand which is promising as well as some of the creative apps like Puppet Pals which we added to the prescribed list in 2013.
Without a doubt the students feel that the iPad has helped them enormously in their learning with 93% indicating this was the case. Some of the reasons given were ease of access to information, it saves carrying around lots of books and that it makes life easier. I think the portability of the device is a winner. The number of times in my classes that we have grabbed the iPads and gone outside to record images of the College or the Cathedral to use in presentations makes me realise just how valuable a tool it is. The fact that you do not have to transfer images and that the apps work in with the images makes it all very seamless.
Some of the aspects of the iPads that did not rate were the latest iOS7 update which has resulted in apps crashing or the iPad running a little slower for some students, some did not like the typing aspect, others found that connecting to the internet within the College could sometimes be an issue and then there were the obvious comments about lack of storage (we have 16gb) and Adobe Flash not working.
The final question asked the students what the College could have done to help them get more out of the device. A few students indicated they would like to use the device more. This obviously depends on which teachers you have as there is still the odd person who resists using the device as they feel they lack control and so revert to the old practice of text book and writing that they are comfortable with. This is all part of the journey and the students accept this as part of the reality of dealing with a variety of teachers. This is also not to say that there is anything wrong with that method. Some requested greater storage but we deliberately went for the smaller device to cut down on the number of game apps that had started dominating devices last year. Generally the students were very happy with the way the devices were implemented and the support they had been given. This is a big tick for the College and the staff who work hard to keep on top of the latest technologies.