2 Definitions and background
The iPad is a touch screen tablet computer (Nguyen, Barton, & Nguyen, 2014).
iPads are in the category of SMD, or Social Mobile Devices, that allow for mobile capture, creation, storage, and sharing of digital media, and that can connect to other devices or the internet via wireless or 3G networks (Bedall-Hill, Jabbar, Al Shehri, 2011). The iPad features high definition cameras on both front and back, and allows the use of a video calling application called FaceTime (Lys, 2013).
iPad users download software applications or "apps" from Apple's App Store via iTunes, making the iPad a "multitool – a device that can be used for a variety of purposes" (Wilson, Goodman, Bradbury, & Gross, 2013, p.109). There were over 20000 educational apps available on the App Store in 2012 (Nguyen, Barton, & Nguyen, 2014). iPad applications can incorporate multiple sensory inputs – auditory, visual, and tactile (Carr, 2012).
First released by Apple in 2010, it was followed by updated models in 2011 (iPad 2) and 2012 (iPads 3 and 4) (Pegrum, Howitt, & Striepe, 2013). The iPad is the most popular tablet in terms of sales, and is predicted to remain so until at least 2015 (Nguyen, Barton, & Nguyen, 2014).
One of the most frequently mentioned strengths of the iPad is its ability to engage and therefore potentially enhance student learning (Nguyen, Barton, & Nguyen, 2014). Teachers in one study involving high school English students reported students being highly engaged and having increased motivation, using story apps and hands-on interaction to respond to text in unique and creative ways (Baker, Isbell, Wendt, & Wilson, 2013). Undergraduate level students in another study "moved around the classroom more and seemed to be engaged in the material" when using the iPads (Diemer, Fernandez, & Streepey, 2012, p. 21). Another study involving university students in a conversational German course observed that using the iPads resulted in enhanced learning due to a more immersive and collaborative experience that engaged students more (Lys, 2013). Pre-service teachers reported using the iPad as an effective means of engaging "disengaged" learners (Pegrum, Howitt, & Striepe, 2013).
Along with individual engagement and motivation, iPads are an excellent tool to increase collaboration and sharing of information, drawing on traits such as portability, a large screen, and a vast selection of software that accomodates active collaboration (Diemer, Fernandez, & Streepey, 2012). The iPad can be an efficient tool for sharing group work and getting peer / instructor feedback (Nguyen, Barton, & Nguyen, 2014). For example, students can use the FaceTime application to chat and share with fellow students, or to recieve feedback from instructors (Lys, 2013).
Another advantage of iPads for educational use is ease of use, requiring little background knowledge (Cavanaugh, Hargis, Munns, & Kamalii, 2012). For example, one study of iPad use with at-risk pre-schoolers found that they progressed from novice to expert users very quickly (Brown & Harmon, 2013). This ease of use can enable greater participation, as students who may normally lack the confidence to contribute to group discussions, share their thoughts, or ask questions in classroom situations find the iPad to be a less threatening way of doing so (Mang & Wardley, 2012). In addition, students can discreetly use reference apps such as dictionaries or thesauri (Crichton, Pegler, & White, 2012).
Finally, the ability of iPads to easily accept multiple types of input and generate multiple types of media, coupled with its portability, make them valuable and flexible educational tools. For example, Pegrum, Howitt, and Striepe observed students using the camera, microphone, and text inputs to record notes and critical reflections (Pegrum, Howitt, & Striepe, 2013). Elementary science students used the video capabilities to record, replay, and analyze experiment data (Wilson, Goodman, Bradbury, & Gross, 2013). Finally, undergraduate ethnography researchers reported that iPads allowed them to use multiple methods of data collection and analysis, and easily conduct research on the move (Bedall-Hill, Jabbar, Al Shehri, 2011).
One commonly cited limitation of the iPad is the onscreen keyboard, which complicates the creation of large written documents as compared to using laptop/desktop computers (Lys, 2013). Students in one university study reported using the onscreen keyboard or writing with a finger as a disadvantage, and preferred using a device with a separate keyboard for writing reports and presentations (Mang & Wardley, 2012). Another study of undergraduate Chinese language learners reported similar difficulty in typing, copying, and pasting content on the iPad, with one commenting that "using computers instead of iPads might be better." (Yang & Xie, 2013, p. 18). Pre-service teachers in another study also found the lack of a keyboard to be a limitation and preferred creating documents on laptops, desktops, or paper (Pegrum, Howitt, & Striepe, 2013).
Another constraint of iPads is the lack of a central file management system such as that found on Windows systems, making it difficult to find, rename, convert, or share files without first opening the application the file was created in, constraining file flexibility and inter-app content transfer (Mang & Wardley, 2012). The required use of iTunes software limits the ability of iPads to easily transfer files to other devices (Bedall-Hill, Jabbar, Al Shehri, 2011). Data retrieval in case of lost files or content is also a difficult or impossible task (Crichton, Pegler, & White, 2012). For these reasons, iPads in an institutional setting require updated technical infrastructure and increased technical support for teachers and students (Lys, 2013). Crichton, Pegler, and White point out the need for an infrastructure oriented around mobile learning, with wireless connectivity and a digital commons or "central location where all the apps, content, and device management could be organized and stored" (Crichton, Pegler, & White, 2012, p. 27).
There is very little research beyond an early exploratory stage on the use of iPads for education, leading to a lack of an established teaching and learning practice; in addition, early studies do not show iPad use to be linked to increased student achievement (Nguyen, Barton, & Nguyen, 2014). For instance, one study of an iPad intervention with fifth grade mathematics students reported no significant increase in students' achievement levels (Carr, 2012). Undergraduate art and design students in another semester long study of iPad use did not report any significant contribution toward their overall learning (Souleles, Savva, Watters, Annesley, & Bull, 2014).
6 Works Cited
Baker, J., Isbell, J.K., Wendt, J., & Wilson, B. (2013). V-SPACE: Training teachers to use iPads to create virtual spaces for accessing content in English. Journal of Technology in Teaching and Learning, 9(1), 64-80. http://www.sicet.org/journals/ijttl/issue1301/4_wendt.pdf
Beddall-Hill, N., Jabbar, A., & Al Shehri, S. (2011). Social mobile devices as tools for qualitative research in education: iPhones and iPads in ethnography, interviewing, and design-based research. Journal Of The Research Center For Educational Technology, 7(1), 67-89. http://www.rcetj.org/index.php/rcetj/article/view/153
Brown, M., & Harmon, M. (2013). iPad intervention with at-risk preschoolers: Mobile technology in the classroom. Journal of Literacy and Technology, 14(2), 56-78. http://www.literacyandtechnology.org/uploads/1/3/6/8/136889/jlt_14_2_harmon_brown.pdf
Carr, J. (2012). Does math achievement h’APP’en when iPads and game-based learning are incorporated into fifth-grade mathematics instruction? Journal of Information Technology Education: Research, 11(1), 269-286. http://www.jite.org/documents/Vol11/JITEv11p269-286Carr1181.pdf
Cavanaugh, C., Hargis, J., Munns, S., & Kamalii, T. (2012). iCelebrate teaching and learning: Sharing the iPad experience. Journal of Teaching and Learning with Technology, 1(2), 1-12. http://jotlt.indiana.edu/article/view/2163
Crichton, S., Pegler, K., & White, D. (2012). Personal devices in public settings: Lessons learned from an iPod touch / iPad project. The Electronic Journal of e-Learning, 10(1), 23-31. http://www.ejel.org/volume10/issue1/p23
Diemer, T., Fernandez, E., & Streepey, J. (2012). Student perceptions of classroom engagement and learning using iPads. Journal of Teaching and Learning with Technology, 1(2), 13-25. http://jotlt.indiana.edu/article/view/3084
Gong, Z., & Wallace, J.D. (2012). A comparative analysis of iPad and other m-learning technologies: Exploring students’ view of adoption, potentials, and challenges. Journal of Literacy and Technology, 13(1), 2-29. http://www.literacyandtechnology.org/uploads/1/3/6/8/136889/jlt_vol13_2_wallace.pdf
Lys, F. (2013). The development of advanced learner oral proficiency using iPads. Language Learning & Technology, 17(3), 94–116. http://llt.msu.edu/issues/october2013/lys.pdf
Mang, C., & Wardley, L. (2012). Effective adoption of tablets in post-secondary education: Recommendations based on a trial of iPads in university classes. Journal of Information Technology Education: Innovations in Practice, 11(1), 301-317. http://www.jite.org/documents/Vol11/JITEv11IIPp301-317Mang1138.pdf
Nguyen, L., Barton, S.M., & Nguyen, L.T. (2014). iPads in higher education - Hype and hope. British Journal of Educational Technology. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/bjet.12137/abstract
Pegrum, M., Howitt, C., & Striepe, M. (2013). Learning to take the tablet: How pre-service teachers use iPads to facilitate their learning. Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, 29(3), 464-479. http://ascilite.org.au/ajet/submission/index.php/AJET/article/view/187
Souleles, N., Savva, S., Watters, H., Annesley, A. & Bull, B. (2014). A phenomenographic investigation on the use of iPads among undergraduate art and design students. British Journal of Educational Technology. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/bjet.12132/abstract
Wilson, R., Goodman, J., Bradbury, L. , & Gross, L. (2013). Exploring the use of iPads to investigate forces and motion in an elementary science methods course. Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education, 13(2), 105-126. http://www.citejournal.org/vol13/iss2/science/article1.cfm
Yang, C., & Xie, Y. (2013). Learning Chinese idioms through iPads. Language Learning & Technology, 17(2), 12–23. http://llt.msu.edu/issues/june2013/yangxie.pdf