When it comes to learning, a recent study suggests out that working in small groups on tablet computers in school is more beneficial than working alone, with or without a tablet. The research stemmed from observing classrooms in a group of schools in the US that were phasing tablet computers into kindergarten classrooms. Students in one school each had their own tablet. In a second school, the children had to share tablets, mainly in pairs, and in a third school there was no access to computing tablets during the period of observation.
The researchers found that the children from the second school, who had to share their tablets, did notably better than the students who each had their own tablet and the the children who did not get to use tablets. The gap between the scores of students sharing tablets and both the other groups was on average 30 points on a scale of 300 to 900. The researchers reported that this improvement is about the same as doing homework. Other factors, such as demographics and starting scores did not make a difference in the results.
“Shared iPad students significantly outperformed both the 1:1 and non-iPad condition, suggesting it’s the collaborative learning around the technology that made the difference, not just the collaboration in and of itself. While schools and districts may still want to go 1:1 in all grades, they may reconsider how the tablets are used, especially in earlier grades, in order to make the technology most effective,” the lead researcher, Courtney Blackwell from Northwestern University said.
Since this study was based on just three classrooms in one area, the results need more validation. However, from a policy standpoint, this would be welcome news to school systems everywhere that want to introduce modern learning aids but have limited budgets. “1:1 tablet computers may not be the most effective way to use technology for all grades and from a policy standpoint, we need to rethink what developmentally appropriate technology use is for young children,” Blackwell said.
In India many private schools provide tablet computers in classrooms and several government projects have distributed tablet computers to children. This research could help make technology more cost effective and produce improved results.
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