The iPad Research Study Animation for the BJET Fellowship project is now live on Vimeo.
Apple released the iPad in 2010.Steve Jobs said that the iPad wasn’t designed to replace the smartphone or the laptop. It was designed to fill the gap between these two devices. He called the iPad a third category device. A number of UK schools and universities rushed to get iPads for their teachers and students. One of these UK universities was the University of Huddersfield. The British Educational Research Association (BERA) funded a project to evaluate how academics at the University of Huddersfield used their iPads for academic practices. These academic practices include: teaching, research and administration.
The research study was conducted during the 2012/13 academic year. 2 surveys were administered: 84 academics completed the first survey while 56 academics completed the second. Interviews were also conducted with 22 academics. The findings revealed that academics used their iPads mostly for administrative practices – checking emails and accessing calendars. Some academics used iPads for research purposes, mainly to read and annotate electronic journal articles. A few used them for teaching and assessment purposes.
But the big question is why didn’t many academics use their iPads for teaching?
The first reason was because their students didn’t have access to iPads. The majority of academics received iPads from their schools but their students did not. This made it difficult for academics to integrate the use of iPads into their modules. Though students’ lack of iPad access was a teaching constraint for many academics, some of them found ways around it. They used their iPads for assessment purposes; some academics used them during student group presentations. They completed assessment templates which they emailed to students with formative feedback. A number of academics used commuting time to read and provide annotated feedback on their students’ work.
A few connected their iPads to projectors to display teaching content. Others used their devices’ video and camera applications to capture student work which were then posted in the University’s Virtual Learning Environment. The second reason why academics weren’t using iPads for teaching is because they don’t know how. The iPad is an intuitive device to use but this does not mean that all academics know how to use it effectively for pedagogical purposes. Several academics stated that they received some technical orientation when they got their iPads. They, however, didn’t get sufficient pedagogical support from their schools to use these iPads effectively. Such pedagogical support would have helped boost academics’ confidence and competencies to use the iPad for teaching and learning purposes.
Some educators believe that the iPad has the potential to be an educational game changer while others argue that it is just a marketing gimmick. The iPad is a GOOD ENOUGH “3rd category” device if used to complement other devices which academics use for teaching. It has its strengths and limitations just like any other consumer technology used for educational purposes.