- Some Key Findings from the Queens University Belfast "Mobile Devices in Early Learning" May 2017
Impact on literacy and numeracy
- ... principals and teachers in the participating schools believe 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. In many lessons, particularly where pupils were sharing iPads, there was a high level of discussion.
- The use of iPads has had a positive impact on reading and writing, particularly with the creation of children’s own digital books.
- The iPad has the potential to enhance children’s numeracy skills in a more engaging and exciting way than traditional approaches.
- Digital technology complements existing teaching approaches in numeracy rather than replaces them.
- Open-ended apps encourage pupil choice within a range of literacy and numeracy based activities. Children’s fine motor skills are reinforced when they use a stylus to practise letter formation on screen.
- Principals and teachers agree that digital devices have the potential to complement all areas of the curriculum and that schools are yet to realise the full potential of these devices.
- The iPad supports the development of other skills such as recording, taking photographs, web searches, cropping and drag and drop.
- It is believed that digital devices have increased children’s confidence and ownership of the learning process.
- Children view learning using handheld devices as play and are more highly motivated, enthused and engaged when tasks are presented on tablet devices.
- There is potential for iPads to support the learning needs of children who require additional support.
- There is evidence of a range of levels of competency and creativity in the use of digital technology by teachers and pupils both across schools and within schools.
- Boys appear to be more enthused when using digital technology, particularly when producing pieces of written work.
Impact on teachers’ professional development and learning
- Principals and teachers believe that the introduction of iPads has had a positive impact on teachers’ motivation and enthusiasm.
- Although teachers were initially nervous about using digital technology, there was evidence to suggest that teachers had developed their confidence and competence throughout the project.
- Teachers are continuing to review their practice in order to identify how, and where, they can include the use of digital technology to support their teaching.
- Recording and monitoring children’s progress directly onto a tablet device had proved beneficial, particularly with regard to teacher workload.
- The iPad also has the potential to offer rich resource material for the Irish Medium sector.
Impact on leadership and management
- In all of the schools, iPads are used at the discretion of the class teacher and this often involves collaborative use.
- The majority of children expressed a preference for collaborative use, claiming that it was “more fun” or that it was “kind” to share.
- Children showed great awareness of the care required when using portable devices.
- Most principals hope to extend and develop the use of digital technology throughout the school.
- Principals had included, or were planning to include, the use of iPads in their School Development Plans.
- The initiative has served to redefine the role of the ICT Co-ordinator.
Impact on parental involvement
- Relationships between home and school are good. The majority of parents believe that they were sufficiently informed about the iPad initiative with a higher percentage satisfied with the amount of information they received from their child’s school. Girls’ parents appeared more knowledgeable and satisfied with the information they received than boys.
- A large majority of parent) said their child has access to a range of digital devices at home with approximately half using them on a daily basis.
The most common educational benefits of using portable devices
- identified by parents/carers included making learning easier, exposure to a wider range of learning resources and greater experience with technology.
- Concerns about the use of portable devices included the potentially negative impact they might have on a child’s attitude to work, concentration and awareness of the world around them. Several also mentioned the need for vigilance to ensure children’s safety.