Using the iPad at school: "advantages that outweigh the disadvantages"

According to a survey on the use of the iPad in Quebec schools, the educational advantages of the tool, when used effectively, outweigh the disadvantages (especially related to easy distractions, the difficult connection of traditional and digital resources, as well as teacher training).

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According to a survey on the use of the iPad in Quebec schools, the educational advantages of the tool, when used effectively, outweigh the disadvantages (especially related to easy distractions, the difficult connection of traditional and digital resources, as well as teacher training).

The Canada Research Chair in Technologies in Education published on December 9, 2013 the complete results of a vast survey on the use of the iPad in Quebec schools. The team of researchers also wanted to help all school stakeholders to make more thoughtful and educational use of the tool. Conducted among 6,057 students and 302 teachers in Quebec, this survey identified 15 advantages and 9 challenges related to the introduction of the touch pad in the classroom.

Very good results

An eloquent illustration of the usefulness of the iPad in an educational context, the school boards of the Estrie region, which have used it for a few years, have recorded a significant drop in school dropouts, which fell from 40 % in 2006 to 18 , 8 % in 2012. This does not mean that the iPad is THE solution to all the problems experienced by Quebec schools, but it seems to be a positive indicator.

Several advantages

Among the main advantages of the touch pad, it was noted that the motivation of young people would be increased, the reading experience improved, the learning to read facilitated, communication and collaboration increased (both between the students themselves and 'between teacher and students), improved computer skills, greater student creativity and benefits for students with learning difficulties would be significant.

Do part of it

While these data are very encouraging, the information gathered has also made it possible to identify several challenges encountered by both students and teachers. The first is undoubtedly that of the distraction linked to the tool itself. Several students and teachers indicated that the use of touch tablets would even go so far as to hinder academic success. Indeed, the temptation will always be very strong to do something quite different with the tablet than what is requested by the teacher.

On the other hand, it has been observed that several textbooks are ill-suited to working with the iPad and that the alignment between traditional and technological tools is not obvious. Several of the teachers finally indicated their ignorance of the resources available on touch pads.

At the end of this study, we realize to what extent the use of the iPad in the classroom implies an important adaptation to the particularities of the technology. Accustomed to using the tablet in a completely different context, it seems easy to get lost in a more playful use. The success of its integration is therefore above all linked to the adequate training of teachers and the empowerment of students. The challenge is great, but the results look promising.

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About the Author

Pierre Turbis
Pierre is a journalist and columnist. He contributes to numerous publications.

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