iPads in Education: 2010s Answer to the IWB

Over the last 2 days I have had the opportunity of attending the GESS and GEF conferences where a number of speakers have presented their ideas and thoughts at to the integration of technology into learning and teaching.

As I was walking away from the conference venue I noticed the number of exhibitors using iPads to show off their software, apps, hardware, etc.   It then dawned on me that over the 2 days I had heard an unusual number of the speakers outlining the benefits of iPads in learning.    iPads had clearly made their mark on the conference yet thinking back to the presentations on the “benefits” of using these devices, all I could remember was anecdotal comments on the benefits or results from student satisfaction surveys.    Now I do believe that there are specific positive applications and uses for iPads however the generalised “benefits” provided did not strike me as being significant evidence as to the impact or “benefit” of using iPads.    The lack of evidence is made all the more stiking when you consider the costs of the devices, associated infrastructure, training, etc.     It was at this point I suddenly remembered another device which was heralded as having significant impact on learners without ever producing much in the way of solid evidence……

It was in the 1990’s that the Interactive Whiteboard first made its appearance.   The 90s and even 00’s were filled with advances in software and hardware, and claims of engaging learners and impacting on learning, yet little solid evidence exists as to the general impact of IWBs on learning.   Yes, I will admit some specific studies exist for a given subject, in a given school, with certain students, however these studies are that narrow in focus, that it is not appropriate to consider their positive results as an indcation of the impact of IWBs in learning in general.   So over 20 years later and after so much fanfare and there is still limited evidence as to the benefits of IWBs on learning in general.     Even stranger still is the fact that shows like GESS continue to feature such a large number of IWB providers.

So could it be that the iPad is the IWB of 2010s?    Promising so much, but delivering very little.   Even less when you consider the cost, or “Added Value”.



Author: garyhenderson2014

Gary Henderson is currently the Director of IT in an Independent school in the UK. Prior to this he worked as the Head of Learning Technologies working with public and private schools across the Middle East. This includes leading the planning and development of IT within a number of new schools opening in the UAE. As a trained teacher with over 15 years working in education his experience includes UK state secondary schools, further education and higher education, as well as experience of various international schools teaching various curricula. This has led him to present at a number of educational conferences in the UK and Middle East.

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