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What am iLearning about the use of iPads in my classroom?. Kasey Van Kleeck ETAP 681 December 2012. iQuestion:. How are students using the iPad as a tool to increase learning skills?

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How are students using the iPad as a tool to increase learning skills?

  • As I began my journey on this road of research, I knew I was going to be focusing on the iPad. In the beginning of August 2012, iPads where distributed to teachers in my school, and a month later to every student in grades 5-12. Questions about the iPad began to flow through my mind. What do I do with this innovative technology tool? How will I use it effectively in my classroom? What will my students think? How will I determine and know if it is enhancing both my teaching and my students’ learning?

The evolution of my research question starting with multiple questions:

  • How do students use the iPad in school?
  • How these uses differ by student’s attitudes and feelings about using them?

As I gained a better understanding of student use and control my questions evolved into one:

  • How are students using the iPad as a tool to increase their learning skills?
  • These inquires and the teacher researcher process allowed me explore the context of my classroom and the interactions with the iPad with more depth and meaning.
My primary question lead me to focus my observations more on how the kids were using the iPad rather than the ways I thought or hoped they would be using them. Through journal writing, I developed the ability to explore and analyze the interactions within my classroom from my own perspective and look deeper at these interactions.
  • Throughout the research process, as mentioned above, I discovered more about iPads within my classroom that didn’t necessarily directly connect to this question. However, my findings still had a considerable effect on my learning about their use within my classroom.
  • This has been an eye opening experience as I jump into the world of being a teacher researcher. At times it has been a struggle and has left me feeling like I am taking two steps back as a teacher. Although sometimes you have to take some steps back in order to travel forward. This process has allowed me to explore in depth mine and my students’ knowledge, use, and feelings towards the iPads. Along this journey the paths continue to shift and intersect. I continue to strive to push myself to observe, reflect, discuss, and analyze the interactions with the iPad. Whish has lead me to more of an understanding of how students are using the iPad as a tool to increase their learning skills.
iresearch scholarly context
iResearchScholarly Context
  • *McClanahan, B., Williams, K., Kennedy, E., & Tate, S. (2012). A Breakthrough for Josh: How Use of an iPad Facilitated Reading Improvement. Techtrends: Linking Research & Practice To Improve Learning, 56(4), 20-28. doi:10.1007/s11528-012-0572-6
  • This article explores how the iPad was used to support a fifth grade student who was diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Barbara McClanahan, a college professor, assigned a project in which students went through the action research process of “identifying issues and concerns, colleting appropriate data, analyzing that data, developing an appropriate action plan, and implementing the plan” (McClanahan,Williams,Kennedy, & Tate, 2012). Kristen McClanahan did just this and focused on working with “Josh,” a student with ADHD and below average reading skills. When working with him, she found he was very distracted and unable to focus. She consulted Ed Kennedy (third author) and he suggested trying to use the iPad when tutoring him. This led Kristen to start her data collection and plan of action. Kristen collected data from observations, used different graphic organizers to assess “Josh’s” progress, and recorded his comments during the process. At the end, she also gave final standardized reading assessments related to his reading skills. They found that the use of the iPad increased motivation, helped keep him focused, and increased his reading level. In their reflection they discuss the fact that this was a single event and even though it was based on the interpretations of those events, it could provide us with a better understanding of how one person can extend their own understandings of teaching and learning through research.
Apple introduced the iPad, a tablet computer with a touch screen, in April 2010, so it is fairly new to both general research and school based research communities. There “are untested possibilities that will require time and energy to explore in real classroom situations. Teachers are needed to take up the challenge of integrating these devices in their classrooms and researchers are needed to document the impact (Banister,2010 ).”
  • The iPad is a relatively new addition to the world of education. Exploring the iPad and its’ effects on student learning and attitudes can give me a clearer understanding of how and why it can be used effectively within my own classroom. Melhuish ( 2010), states that the iPad offers exciting possibilities but, the education sector must keep its eyes open and assess the benefits and challenges of any innovation through the lens of what is known to be effective teaching and learning.
  • The potential that the iPad has in the classroom is slowly being discovered. By allowing teachers the opportunity to research how they are being used within their classrooms from a teacher researcher perspective, will help provide us with more information on the effects they have within the classroom setting. The current collection of literature has allowed me to open my eyes and perspective on what I am seeing within my own classroom and also support and/or contradict my own findings. In using iPads being a relatively new aspect for classrooms, I continue to develop my own understandings and ideas. Hopefully, as I expand my ideas around teacher research and the use of the iPad within my classroom, I can lead other teachers to do the same.
  • Banister, Savilla. “Integrating the Ipad Touch in K-12 Education: Visions and Vices.” Computers in the Schools 27.2 (2010): 121-31. http://iols.gmu.edu/assets/761/Article8d.pdf
  • Melhuish, K. & Falloon, G. (2010) Looking to the future: M-Learning with the iPad. Computers in New Zealand Schools: Learning, Teaching, Technology, 22 (3)
  • I work at a private international school in San Jose, Costa Rica. I have 22 students in my fifth classroom, 12 girls and 10 boys. The iPad was introduced to teachers in August and students received the iPads in the middle of September. The students are not “allowed” to download applications, unless given permission from a teacher. Within my classroom, I have full control of when the students are using the iPads and when they are not. Teachers have received two days of iPad training (total of 12 hours) and are in charge of training the students on how to use them within the regular school day hours.
  • I collected 10 observations and 15 journal writings. I also had the students fill out 2 surveys about their use of the iPad and complete a daily iPad log for 10 days.
  • Before I begin to show my results I would like to make you aware of the fact that some of my findings do not directly link with how are students using the iPad as a tool to increase learning skills. However, the ability to open my eyes to the what was happening within my classroom and school around the iPad has allowed me to modify and enhance my teaching and my students learning around the iPad.
Quick Glimpse at how we are using the iPad in our classroom.
  • I think it is beneficial for you to see how students are using the iPads within their classroom and their own understanding of how they are using the iPads. I collected ten observations and from these ten observations found that students use their iPads in five distinct ways. I also analyzed student daily logs using these same five ways to find their observations on how they are using the iPads within our class.
  • Creating Presentations:Students created presentations while using the iPad. These were created in different content areas using Keynote and other applications. These presentations also included rubrics that thee students had to follow.
  • Organizing:Studentsuse the calendar on the iPad to record their homework and write down dates of tests and other important dates.
  • Research:Students use Internet browser Safari to search and locate information related to class activities.
  • Email:Each student has their own e-mail account which they can use to send and receive information.
  • Skill and Drill:Students use different applications to practice math, writing, and reading skills.
Results show that both teacher and students have similar views on how the iPads are being used within the classroom. By seeing how students are using the iPads within the classroom, I can then focus on each of these independent ways and discover what learning skills they are using.
ipads are supporting independent learning skills
iPads are Supporting Independent learning skills:
  • When they create projects using the iPad, I have noticed that they are using four distinct skills: creating, self- monitoring, processing information, and revising. When they work on the iPad to complete tasks and follow the rubric(s), students are using these skills. I analyzed how many students where using these four learning skills and provided dialogue showing the use of these learning skills.
Excerpts from my observations and journal writings around the iPad supporting the use of learning skills:
  • “Students continue to create a variety of projects using the iPad, a vocabulary project, music and dance from around the world project, and science fair project. Along with creating these projects, I am noticing them using a variety of learning skills.”
  • “Students are using the iPad to create their Science Fair presentation. Today many of the students were researching via the internet to find information related to their essential question (processing information). I noticed that the group who was researching rollercoasters, all were on different sites that related to their specific question they were studying. KW was reading a page on the different types of energy used with a roller coaster (processing information). JP was looking at a page that described the construction of a roller coaster (processing information). AP was looking at a page that explained the history and important events related to roller coasters (processing information). They were also taking notes and when JP did not understand something, he turned to JP and asked her to try to explain it to him (self-monitoring). When KW was taking notes, he was scanning the page and then writing down information (processing information). After he collected his information, he then began re-reading his notes(self-monitoring). He kept going back to the site to revise his note information (self-monitoring/processing information/revising).”
students are collaborating with their ipad
Students are collaborating with their iPad:
  • Collaboration has been a key theme with the use of iPads within my classroom.
  • When using the iPads, students are learning to accept various roles and an equitable, share of the work within a group through small group interactions around the ipad.
  • The graph compares the instances of kids working collaboratively vs. individually with the iPad. The data was taken from my observations.
  • Excerpts from my observations and journal writings are also included on the next page.

When analyzing my observations, I found that 7 of the 10 times students worked collaboratively with the iPad.

Excerpts from my observations and journal writings around students collaborating using the iPad:
  • When BM and MA were done checking over the information that they put in their presentation, RW and IG re-read what BM and MA wrote and then moved onto their part of the project.
  • The group that was studying solar vs. wind power were working together to complete their presentation on the Keynote app. They were discussing what to put on each page. After DG wrote the information down, read it over while talking through the corrections that she wanted to make. TF was looking over her shoulder and adding her ideas as well…
  • KW and JP both have their iPads in their hands. The vocabulary rubric is on the desk. “Let’s start by searching for the definition. I will start creating the keynote and you, KW, search for the definition.” KW proceeds to go to the internet and search for the definition. JP opens up Keynote and begins to type the vocabulary word. KW- “JP, I found two definitions, can you read through each and see which one we should use.”
  • LM is reading through the science presentation with JAP sitting next to him. As LM is re-reading it out loud, JAP asks him to re-read a part because it does not sound right. He wants to revise them to revise that part.

Develop an understanding that proper support and time is needed by both teacher and student to develop knowledge and technological skills around the use of the iPad.

Looking through my observations and reflective pieces I found that frustration ran high because many times support was low when using the iPads by both teacher and student. Not much professional development (support) or time was given to students and/or teachers to “get to know” the iPad before being expected to use them constructively. From my observations and journal writings, I found that proper support and time are needed for proper implementation and use of the iPad within the classroom.

iPads where given to Teachers August 4, 2012 and then to students on September 17, 2012. This only allowed for 2 days of professional development (total of12 hours) for teachers to understand and use the iPad. Students where given the iPads on September 14, 2012 with no support or directions on how to use them well. The only support students were given was on October 3, when technology came in and set up iTune accounts for each of our students. This was done as a class and no further explanation was given in regards on how to use the iTune account. All other support had to be given within the classroom by the teacher when problems arose. Support, time, and patience are essential to the success of using iPads within the classroom.

Excerpts from my observations and journal writings around the need for time and support:
  • “How do I get the keyboard to go down. I can’t see what I am writing.”
  • “JM, why are you checking your mail, you should be working on the project.” “Ms. K, I don’t know how to add another text box and put the picture into the project.”
  • “This is annoying, where can I find a text box.”
  • “Ms. K, my iTunes account isn’t working and I can’t download that app. See I keep getting the message that my capacity if full.”
  • “I can’t figure out how to add this picture into this document, please help me. I have been trying to do this for the past 5 minutes.”
  • Today it took me 3 hours to figure out how to get the students presentations from their iPads to their email. This was so frustrating. I asked technology and other teachers but no one knew how to do it. I am feeling a bit overwhelmed and lost in regards to how to do this.
  • GO was working on her project. Her face looked tense and she kept shaking her head. “G- Are you ok? I can’t figure out how to get this video into my project. I have been trying out many different things, I just can’t do it.” “Ok, well let me see if I can help you.”
iimplications iinterpretations
  • I believe that my findings have helped me focus more on how iPads are being used within my classroom and allow me to modify the ways in which I am teaching through the use of them. By closely observing student learning on the iPad, I was able to develop my understanding around certain areas. In relation to learning skills, Students are using the iPad to work on a variety of learning skills as mentioned: creating, monitoring, processing information, and revising. They are using this tool to practice using these skills. The students are collaborating when using the iPad which helps support the use of collaboration skills. In retrospect, the iPad can be seen a tool to help support the use of these skills but I cannot state whether or not it can actually increase the quality of uses of these skills.
  • In order for iPads to be effectively used within a classroom, time and support are key components. As seen in my findings, frustrations arises when time and support are not provided and the ability to use the iPad as a tool to support learning diminishes. Effective implementation is a must, and time and support are key components to make it successful. iPads should not just be given out to teachers with little to no professional development. Also throughout the process there needs to be professional development that increases teacher knowledge of both technical and academic use of the iPad. Without this proper management and implementation frustrations arise and misuse of the iPad occurs.
I believe that iPads can be seen as a tool to help students learn, however it is a process that needs to be highly monitored and supported. By researching their use in my classroom, I continue to find ways in which students are increasing their learning skills through the use of the iPad and how time, support, and knowledge can be provide to both students and teachers within my school.

Some further implications should follow:

  • Continue making observations pinpointing learning skills that students are developing when using the iPad.
  • Encourage the development of more professional development or teacher support groups around using the iPad at my school. I need more support and need to continue to look for apps that promote the use of learning skills.
  • Find time to see how others are using the iPad in school to develop and encourage support.
  • Continue guiding collaborative use with the iPad and finding more ways to promote this.
  • Continue providing students with rubrics when working on projects around the iPad.
  • This research project has offered me the opportunity to view my classroom, my teaching, and my learning from a different perspective then I have ever viewed my classroom before. It has not been smooth sailing nor an easy process. Learning more about becoming a teacher researcher and being able to experience this process has made me question some of my original beliefs and understandings around teaching and learning. At times it was very challenging and frustrating and at others it was empowering and invigorating. This project allowed me to open my mind to the importance of questioning, examining, and documenting. It helped develop my questioning, data collection, and analysis skills which I will continue to strengthen through reflecting, having discussions, and writing around the happenings of my classroom.
  • During this process, I was able focus on how iPads are being used within my classroom with a more constructive and structured approach. Not only was I able to develop my understanding around iPads within my classroom, I was able to take a step back and observe myself, the students, and the interactions in both independent and dependent ways. I was able to experience and become part of the cyclical process of inquiry leading me to more questions, but also providing me with the ability to see things in fresh new ways.
  • I am now starting to look at things in a more scientifically structured way rather than just using my own understandings and my own interpretations. I collected evidence and began to analyze it with more a researcher lens. I looked for patterns and themes collectively rather than individually. I am now making myself more aware to look past the surface of my classroom, and to focus on the actual experiences and happenings with more of a structured, focused lens. I know that this is just the beginning of my journey in becoming a true teacher researcher.

Future Questions:

  • What are some other learning skills the students are using with their iPad?
  • How can my school work together to support each other with the iPad?
  • What are other teachers in my school noticing in their classroom about the iPad? How can encourage more discussions?
  • What are others attitudes like toward the iPad?
  • How can we (teachers) begin to work together to support each others’ implementation and use?
  • How can we increase the time and support needed to use iPads effectively within our classroom?
  • What are researching skills do I need to work on to improve my teacher researcher skills?