A study on how and in what ways has the use of tablet technologies (specifically iPads) enhanced learning and teaching across curriculum areas

2017-02-28T04:52:19Z (GMT) by Bogiannidis, Nikolaos
The use of technology in education is not a new phenomenon; however, schools in Australia and around the globe are searching for the best ways to integrate existing and emerging technologies in the curriculum. Their goals are to engage students, to raise academic achievement and to prepare them for a technology rich world. The introduction of tablets and for the purposes of this study, iPads and iPad technology in education, has renewed hopes for individualising and personalising the educational experience of students anywhere, anytime and at any pace. The aim of this study is to examine the ways in which the iPad, a tablet technology device, enhances learning and teaching across the curriculum. Four teachers volunteered to be a part of this study and as such, focus group interviews and qualitative analysis, presented data linked to the research question – “How and in what ways has the use of tablet technologies (specifically iPads) enhanced learning and teaching across curriculum areas?” The context where the research takes place in, is a large independent school in the south-east corridor of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. This school has currently mandated the purchase and use of iPads for students and subsequently has purchased this device for each teacher together with providing ongoing training and professional development. The focus of the literature review investigates a number of past and current research studies in order to identify any ‘gaps’ related to the use of tablet technologies in education. Due to a paucity of literature in the use of tablet devices such as the iPad, the literature review also includes a review of the use of other types of technologies in education including desktop computers and online resources that support learning and teaching. This study adopted a qualitative case-study, phenomenological approach as the chosen methodology. This offered the researcher the opportunity to work with participants in a natural professional setting and observe them interacting with each other while exchanging ideas and strategies related to the ways in which iPad technologies were being employed with a view to enhance the learning and teaching across their chosen curriculum areas. Four case studies form the basis for data analysis as a result of the contributions made by the teacher participants during focus group sessions. These case studies highlight the specific strategies, apps (applications – used as an acronym in iPad technology) and other digital resources each of the teachers employed to enhance teaching and learning through the use of tablet technology. The findings of this research paper confirmed similar findings to those of previous studies; that the effective use of tablet technologies such as the iPad, can definitely engage students and cater for their individual needs and learning styles. However, what emerged was the additional finding that there are specific strategies that must be implemented in order for these devices to assist educators realise their educational goals. Hence, any one-to-one implementation needs to take into account when and how iPad or tablet technologies can make a difference to existing practices. The summative findings of this research show that the use of the iPad created a supportive learning environment through the use of apps (applications), e-Books, games, simulations and online resources, which were available to students 24 hours seven days a week.