K. Blackmore1, O. Wilkie1, D. Manders2

1University of Worcester (UNITED KINGDOM)
2Primary school, Worcestershire (UNITED KINGDOM)
Children in the UK over the last fifteen years have grown up surrounded by mobile technology. Information is accessed through a plethora of hardware including laptop computers and more prevalently through “hand held” mobile devices, including mobile phones, mp3 players and tablet computers. The vast majority of children in this generation (born 1995 – 2010, termed digital natives) have a growing familiarity with such technology and by school entry age, are familiar with the use of mobile technologies.

The challenge for educationalists is to harness this proficiency with technology in the classroom. Whilst hand held technologies are starting to be used in several subjects across the primary curriculum [1], it has been suggested that the development of effective pedagogical approaches to TEL has significantly lagged behind technological advances [2].

Science, most particularly investigative experimentation, is an ideal opportunity for children to use hand held devices, due to the accessibility and mobility of this technology. This study aims to investigate the scope of embedding tablet computer use during experimentation; specifically to explore the extent by which iPads can have an impact upon the acquisition of skills e.g. planning for upper Key stage 2 (10 - 11 year old) children.

The research was approached from an interpretivist paradigm with mainly qualitative data collection methods being used. Before undertaking the research, extensive negotiations and planning sessions were undertaken with the class teachers to ensure the experimental investigations were designed at an appropriate level of challenge and integrated within the existing cross-curricular scheme of work.

The children carried out eight investigations over a period of 7 days (in one 2 day block and another 5 day block) and had access to their own individual iPad throughout the experimentation process. The researchers undertook semi-structured observations to determine how the children used the iPads throughout the experiments, with four main considerations in mind in terms of autonomy, which were taken from recent research in the area [3].

In order to achieve triangulation of data, semi-structured small group interviews were carried out following experimentation to allow the children to provide detailed information of their views of how iPads impacted upon their learning. Staff also completed structured reflective responses to taught sessions.

The data shows that there was a significant impact of using Ipads during scientific investigations, the most prominent features being improved planning and experimental outcome recording. Peer assessment and sharing ideas, especially in terms of discussion surrounding experimental results were prevalent. It is hoped to develop this work to inform future pedagogic approaches to promoting investigational science skills in young learners.

[1] Burden, K., Hopkins, P., Male, T., Martin, S. & Trala, C. (2012) iPad Scotland Evaluation.
[2] Chowcat, I., Phillips, B., Popham, J. & Jones, I. (2008) Harnessing Technology: Preliminary identification of trends affecting the use of technology for learning.
[3] Burden, K & Younie, S. Using iPads effectively to enhance learning in schools.