updated 03:05 pm EST, Fri February 17, 2012
Results may demand concerted effort
A study conducted in Auburn, Maine suggests that the iPad may be able to improve literacy rates among kindergarten students, notes The Loop. The Auburn School Department recently assigned iPads to half of the district's 16 kindergarten classes for a period of nine weeks. This translated into 129 students being taught with iPads, and 137 without; to gauge results, all of the students were tested before and after the trial.
In the end, the classes using iPads are said to have outperformed the ones without them in every literacy metric used. The ASD is, however, reported to have put special effort into the project. "The objective has to be learning, not just getting the technology out there," says the Department's Multiple Pathways Leader, Mike Muir. "We are paying attention to app selection and focused on continuous improvement -- we aren't just handing equipment to teachers."
He claims that many educational institutions have not put in enough effort. "Too many innovative programs don't prioritize their own research, and even if they collect observations and stories later, they don't make the effort to do a randomized control trial, like we did," he argues. "We wanted to make sure we could objectively examine the contribution of the iPads."
Sue Dorris, the principal at East Auburn Community School, comments that the Department is seeing "high levels of student motivation, engagement and learning in the iPad classrooms." While the exact apps used are unmentioned, they are said to "teach and reinforce fundamental literacy concepts and skills," and be "engaging" while providing kids with immediate feedback. They can be customized to suit each child, letting people learn at different rates.