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Tablets – do they really improve student learning?

Yesterday I put a question to Twitter that had been troubling me for a while:


I am very grateful to @ictevangelist, @buttonbashing @danjjroberts @gary_s_king and @naace for their responses.  I wanted to collate all the responses along with my interpretation of them and how I intend to move forward on this.


Use before and after polls of digital leaders

A possibility, but we have yet to implement digital leader in my school, so no “before” polls.  I have however, been convinced of their need by @ictevangelist and will probably be putting out feelers for this over the next couple of weeks to kick off after Christmas.   This is an avenue that I can plan to go down though.

Data from time spent using edtech (like VLE/apps etc)

This is definitely doable, I will need to take into account the fact that staff are not using the tech consistently, but this in itself could be an indicator, is there a difference in the progress of students whose teachers are using the edtech compared with students whose teachers are not using the edtech? Is there a difference in the type of edtech being used, ie, does the VLE provide more learning opportunities than SAM Learning?  is access to apps actually helping (given it is a substitution (SAMR) rather than any great enhancement)?


Dan directed me to where I found some rubrics for student learning and teacher delivery.  I have printed them off but I have to admit I have yet to read them – next blog!


  1. Suggested that the research question be broken down in to smaller parts rather than starting with the “whole school” – many others have agreed with this and I will break it down.
  2. Reminded me that qualitative research is just as valid as qualitative research; teacher and student anecdotes should be trusted – I agree with that in principle, but with a small school, and a special needs one at that, it just wouldn’t have the same validity, and when we are talking about tens of thousands of pounds, I want to be able to offer them something less subjective.
  3. Suggested looking at quantitative “time on task” research (along the same vein as @buttonbashing) – I will research into this
  4. Use local government and employability stats to push the need for digital literacy – not so relevant with our school, only 5 or so students will be capable of employment when they leave
  5. Increased efficiency means that staff can do more, quickly and will therefore get more done which will save the school money in the long run.

I feel Naace may have been a little ideological with their responses towards the end, but they do make some good points at the start.


We covered so many topics and areas that I feel it is worthy of it’s own entry, plus I need to do some more research and reading around the subject, so this will also be part of my second (or third blog).  At this stage I should probably thank Mark as he convinced me to start blogging my journey, to share the trials and tribulations as I start to navigate my way through these murky waters.

I am aware that I (and my generation of edtech-ers) are incredibly lucky to have people who carried the edtech flag forward and are willing to share those experiences (and mistakes) with us through blogs and social media.  The first thing I do when I have an edtech question is Google it.  The second thing is shout at my computer as the school firewall has “…blocked it as web chat…”, thank goodness for smart phones.  I hope that my sharing of this will help other people, as it has certainly helped me start to sort through the ideas in my head.

This conversation is in no way complete and I suspect my journey to find the best way of answering this question at my school is going to be a long meandering path.  Please feel free to comment and share your experiences/opinion.



Comments (2)

  1. Interesting trawl for research. My hunch is that Chromebooks work better than tablets so am seeking comparative studies between the 2 types of device.

    • Hi James, thanks for the comment! I am hoping that when I finally figure out a way of measuring the progress made, it will be cross device. However, I have heard many people say that they rate Chromebooks quite highly. I feel that Chrome books would lend themselves to the later stages of ed tech integration (MR of SAMR). It is all to easy to be focussed on what apps you could use, and there (yet) on Chrome. I think in a mainstream school I would be strongly attracted towards chromebooks as the 1:1 device rather than tablets. But I have no evidence for that, other than a hunch too.


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