We believe that technology, if used correctly and at the right times, has a profound effect on learning.
The most successful learners are those that teach each other, work with others in groups and have freedom to create work in the style that suits them best. Technology enables these things to happen in a powerful way.
Technology not only allows students to learn for themselves, becoming more independent learners, but also helps keep them engaged in their learning. They will have individual access to more interactive, exciting lesson materials – including video, sound and animation.
Technology allows students to complete tasks in a style that suits them best. For some children writing the answer to a question using pen and paper might be their preferred choice. Others might prefer, at times, to answer that question by creating a video or recording their voice.
Technology can allow students to retain knowledge more effectively. Copying from the board or taking notes whilst listening to a teacher may not be as effective as the student recording that information (being able to play it back at any time) and then working with other students, sharing knowledge.
However, we do appreciate that technology is not best suited to every situation or task. There will still be times when the tablet device will not be used for a task. The pen and paper will still be evident in many lessons, as will text books and practical apparatus. We understand that writing skills will always be valuable.
We believe that technology can be used to go ‘above and beyond’, where traditional teaching and learning methods have limitations.
1:1 Tablet learning in the classroom
The Chesterton mobile learning scheme is about transforming learning, not about giving students snazzy technology. We believe that equipping every student with a tablet will make a qualitivative difference to the rate and nature of learning that goes on in the school. In this document we say why we believe this, with some pointers for further reading.
‘A boy once told his father that he had taught his pet dog to talk like a human.
“That’s amazing” said the father, “I would love to see this”.
The boy brought in his dog, “how are you today dog?” said the boy.
The dog just barked.
The father said, “I thought you said you taught the dog to talk son?”
“I did”, said the boy, “but I never said he learned how to do it though”.’
The story shows us that there is a big difference between teaching and learning. Tablets allow a focus on learning.
Chesterton’s vision is to realise the potential of all our learners. In order for our learners to realise their potential they must first become good learners!
Good learning is complex and is different to older style schooling where pupils sat in rows of desks and copied from board or book. Below is a diagram which shows which styles of learning result in the best outcomes. As you can see lecturing and reading are fairly low down, where as collaborative technques are shown to be the most effective.
Compared to an exercise book, or restricted to a classroom like most group, using a tablet computer provides the greatest variety of opportunities for students to work and the most effective end of the learning pyramid.
Technology allows students to take part, on a regular basis, in the types of learning research says will enable them to learn and recite information to their best ability.
How tablets can improve learning
Here are some examples:
- Topic focused lessons
Students learn best when they are free to think about the topic, not the style of work. Equipping students with tablet PCs allow the focus of learning to be on what students are learning, not how they are learning it. It is common, especially in lower years, for students to become preoccupied with the ‘format’ of the task, rather than the ‘content’ of the task. Sometimes, if students are asked to create a table of advantages and disadvantages around a topic, then using a ruler to draw a precise table often takes a large portion of time which could be better used thinking about the advantage and disadvantages of the topic! Tablets can remove many of these low-level tasks, leaving students free to concentrate on the content.
- Freedom to explore ideas
In the later year groups, students are more independent and confident in working together on extended tasks. Often however, the enthusiasm within the group can be nullified by limited access to resources in a classroom. Tablets provide immediate, online access to resources. As a general rule in schools, higher levels and grades are accessed not by ‘knowing more facts’, but by ‘being able to validate ideas, designing investigations and giving opinions’. With a tablet, every classroom is enabled as an environment where students can find information from a variety of sources including teachers, textbooks and the internet. A tablet is a text book for the real world with instant access to real information. The large range of Apps available allows students to organise in a variety of styles, much of which is enabled for collaborative learning. The variety of Apps available also allows variety in the way collaborative lessons are delivered. New methods of collaboration mean learning can always be new and engaging.
- Supporting written tasks and test performance
In a classroom, tablets are not designed to replace exercise books or paper; instead, they allow pupils to source information, express their ideas and organise their thoughts so they arrive at a written task much better prepared. Currently preparation for assessed work and tests are effective, yet because every student is working in the same way, there is room for improvement. A tablet computer can allow each student to work towards a task using different skills and learning styles. A less confident student in PE could devise a better coaching drill if they are allowed access to the internet a coaching App in lessons opposed to physically designing it by recreating the skill as now. The tablet would allow this student to make progress in PE.
The following paragraphs give some examples of these general principles in action. They are only examples, taken from various subjects. The actual use of tablets in any particular subjects would be much richer.
Learning Posters in Science
‘Learning posters’ are a simple idea. Posters are used widely in the ‘real’ world; a PowerPoint slide is just a fancy poster. A poster enables a student to write or draw their understanding of a concept. This poster can then be passed around the class where other students have the opportunity to add ideas. Eventually the poster arrives back at the start where the student can see how to move forward with their work.
Using the ‘Hoccer’ App, students in Science can annotate resources (e.g. an H2O molecule) with their own ideas. Students can then ‘flick’ their poster across the classroom to a peer, who in turn can add their ideas before ‘flicking’ it back. Meanwhile, their friend could be building a H20 molecule out of plasticine and straws and as a group, they can discuss what they have found out. This is better learning.
Keyboards in Music
The best learning is often ‘hands on’. Students will always have the opportunity to try out skills and experiences. Using the keyboards in music will still happen; using an instrument is imperative to learning in music, likewise field trips in geography or experiments in science. Using a keyboard App though allows this ‘hands on’ learning to be supported by allowing one device per student, and for the learning to develop away from the keyboard and outside of the classroom, perhaps at home. There could be a lesson on octaves, where keyboard App may be selected by the student as a method of understanding the concept, and exploring the idea of octaves further. Students could also record their actual composition on the ‘real’ keyboard using their device, email it to peers who could then identify elements of their composition and decide what level they thought they composition was, and how it could be improved. This exploration and inquiry type work is work of the highest level or grade.
Collating Ideas for Extended Writing in English
‘Mind mapping’ is a skill that many students like using in lessons to organise ideas, although this is often restricted to writing (it used to be referred to as ‘brain-storming’). Let’s say that there is an English task which, after 5 lessons, involves students writing a piece of extended writing around a character in a book. Using tablets, students can have a central bubble of the character name and then add writing, but also a variety of media including audio recordings of the teacher, a picture of class notes on the interactive whiteboard, an annotated page from a book, a video of a drama piece they had created to explore the character and much more. Arriving in the lesson where they must write their piece, they arrive fully equipped with information which they have explored and in a format that they comfortable with. This method of working produces high quality, better graded, writing. The information is, of course, stored on the device to be revisited again in the future – for example as a revision resource.
Experiences from other schools and research institutions
Many schools have already introduced 1:1 schemes; where every child has a tablet device. We know that 200 schools have implemented a scheme already and at least a further 200 schools will move to one device per student by September 2012.
Some examples and schools we have visited have found the following thus far:
Bishop Challoner Catholic School, Birmingham, attribute 1:1 to students making progress above the expected 2/3rds level
1:1 with higher ability students enabled them to produce higher level work by having greater access to tools and resources, while all lower ability students met lesson outcomes; Homewood School, Kent
Honywood School are classified by Ofsted as Outstanding, they say 1:1 has been the facilitator of this through combining exciting pedagogy (teaching styles) with independent learning.
Longfield Academy have told us that teaching a class where students are equipped with iPads allows teachers greater freedom to include a variety of pedagogical methods (teaching) including group work and research. Teaching there has moved from Inadequate to Outstanding in two years.
The eLearning Foundation study, ‘Learning to Go; Embedding 1:1 Computer Provision’ written with the David Perry Association suggests student use of tablets produce the highest level of learners of any scheme bar a one to one teacher for every student – that would clearly be very expensive!