Using iPads in a school in the South East
The methodology used for this particular case study followed the Vital Case Study Methodology process as described here: Research_Strategy
Overview of the school
This well-resourced 11-16 mixed academy of 1,500 pupils and 120 teachers specializes in mathematics, ICT, modern foreign languages and sports. In a privileged South East England rural catchment area there are fewer behavioural problems and disadvantaged pupils than the national average. Gaining high performing specialist school status in 2009 the school also specializes in special educational needs and gifted and talented education.
ICT infrastructure and resources
Overall infrastructure and resources
This school benefits from a well-staffed and well-run Digital Resources Centre including a technician and three dedicatedteaching staff. The school is well resourced with 650 machines and devices. Most classrooms have a computer and displayequipment supplied by a continuing refreshment program. A sophisticated combination of in-site and off-site network support ensures networkreliability. In addition, a high-density wifi Meraki Cloud managed network spreads across most of the site.
As a result of a careful product selection procedure with staff and governors the school has purchased approximately 110 iPad 2 devices for the Pilot. These devices make up two class sets of 32 and also a pilot staff group of over 32 teachers.
Overview of the initiative
The project benefits from the oversight of a SLT strategist, Director of E-Learning, who is outstanding in computing knowledge, in relating systemic change to pedagogical gain and a talent for communication to staff and pupils. He updates his Masters in Knowledge and Learning Technology by belonging to online professional communities. As a result of his infrastructure decision-making power the BYOD/BYOT project is one element in landscape of change to met the challenges of the 21st century. Those piloting new uses of digital technologies are striving not only to improve motivation but also to establish independent learning and a sense of ownership of the learning agenda.Underpinning these aims are infrastructure decisions like moving to the Cloud using Google solutions are designed to reduce the volume of printing and replace with digital copy or e-learning materials as well as improving work flows. This strategy leverages 5Gb of free personal storage space for each teacher and pupil. The choice of Apple as a strategic partner in mobile devices reflects the prodigious Apps development and the support of the company for education – as well as an element of ‘cool’ that motivates staff and pupils. The availability of free content in iTunes Appstore is another benefit: staff authors are already publishing their curriculum e-books as well. The staff iPads have a suite of Apps preloaded that includes curriculum support and a product that permits the use of SIMS on mobile devices including marking class registers and logging behaviouron the go. The 32 staff with the first iPads that have been issued are including pedagogy in their deliberations about the value of these devices: motivating reluctant learners, facilitating promoting pride in presentation and encouraging creativity are emerging as outcomes so far. Sophisticated plans for 1:1 computing devices and universal wifi access that includes support for disadvantaged families have already been introduced to parents and staff to inform their purchasing decisions and to avoid a plethora of incompatible devices arriving in school after Christmas.
- Impact on staff
There have been no open complaints about the pilot overall although usual concerns have been expressed like students forgetting or losing the device. The 32 staff with the first iPads are including pedagogy in their deliberations about the value of these devices. So far motivating reluctant learners, facilitating promoting pride in presentation and encouraging creativity are emerging as outcomes. A well-organized trials plan was communicated in an engaging way to parents who are invited to discuss the results with their children. Subjects where interesting practice is emerging are: PE, Information and Communications Technology and Geography. In History a comic strip designer and book creator apps ‘engaged the student’s creativity whilst keeping them focused on the content of the curriculum. This approach helps students who are visual learners to remember key terms and concepts more readily.’. The development of videos about enzymes in Science was motivating for ESN pupils . Teachers view positively the move to use these tools in personal administrative tasks: for example registration and email on the move; note taking; and, resource collection.
- Impact on the school
The results of the first pilot will be used to make agreed alterations to policies on teaching and learning, appropriate use and e-safety policy.
- Impact on pupils
One teacher says that 'Data is still being collected on the impact, but we are having to extend the project to Year 10 because of parental and student pressure.' Another teacher commented, 'SEN pupils and students with behaviourial problems have responded particularly well to the use of iPads as a personal tool'. In addition the observation was made that pupil reporters for the school news stream have found the job easier.
Key lessons learnt
Research is essential if a project that promotes change is to succeed. The viability of the plan was researched over a year and a half by investigating research papers, videos, forum discussions supplier demos, exhibition show products, the E-learning foundation, technology conferences and visits to schools wheresimilar programs have been implemented. The iPads pilot is one aspect of developing a long-term strategy to put more responsibility in the hand of the pupils for learning. Ownership of the iPad has meant that each teacher also experiences more ownership over changing practice from the classroom perspective.
Do not underestimate the emergence of technical issues as the project progresses and allow time to sort these out and orientate the technical team to be able to work with new technology in new ways.
Communicate sympathetically with parents and staff members who are concerned about league tables and academic rigour. The current assessment environment does not encourage the changes in teaching and learning that are pursued in this project. These wider and broader aims of education need to be debated.
At some point more staff development especially action research will help the whole staff to consider whether they are willing to adjust the theoretical underpinning that informs their professional life and adjust school policies on teaching and learning.