A “Report on the Effectiveness of Technology in Education, 1990-1997,” conducted by the Software Publishers Association, cites the results of a Vanderbilt University research group’s study of at-risk, inner-city kindergartners. The researchers found that students studying language arts in a multimedia environment gained more auditory, language, decoding-in-context, and story-composition skills than did students in a control group who did not use computers. (See “Open your Eyes: The Evidence is There,” Technology and Learning, September 1997.)
Although this study could be seen as having as much reliability as a report from Marlboro cigarettes telling us smoking is good for children, it highlights very clearly, in fewer words than the many other studies that also support this opinion, technology helps students learn.
The reason I have drawn attention to this study is the fact that it is looking at the achievement of less affluent students – an area currently under focus from the DfE – and parallels well to the pupil premium students that we teach.
As ever it cannot be assumed that handing a child an iPad will suddenly make them Charles Dickens. It won’t. What it will do is engage and motivate them, bring relevance to a subject that often faces the ‘I can speak good, why do I need Inglish’ argument and encourage students to relate what they are learning to how they consume language in their social spheres.
Planning is key to the success of the use of Technology. As part of a study of the novel ‘Private Peaceful’ by Michael Morpurgo, I have been working towards the students in one of my year 8 classes producing a film trailer for the ‘film of the book’. This is working with a group who have particularly low levels of literacy and for whom behaviour has been an issue around the school.
Following reading the text in lesson, we have written scripts and produced storyboards, developing student’s media literacy. These storyboards have included detailed plans of how each section of their trailer will be filmed.
The advantage of using the iPad rather than a flip camera or the students mobile phones are great. The iPads have got the functionality to both film and edit their footage as they work, rather than having to upload it to a PC. They are easy to use and many of the students are already proficient in their use.