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Embedding the iPad as a learning and teaching tool: A case study of staff and student perspectives


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This paper considers the use of iPads in the University of Southampton Management School. The iPad is an extremely popular mobile technology device and has broad educational application, as demonstrated by the research and case studies at primary
and secondary school level. Rather less has been documented about the iPad at HE level, but even at the University of Southampton, where there is no formal support for using them, they are increasing in popularity. The Management School invested in tablets to experiment with mobile assessment in 2012, and this gave some insights into the potential
and limitations of tablet use in higher education. However, when staff and students
on the Master of Business Administration (MBA) programme were provided with an iPad
at the beginning of the 2013-2014 academic year, this presented an ideal opportunity
to consider this in more detail, and examine the perceptions and practice of the two user groups. A questionnaire was designed and made available to all MBA staff and students
at the beginning of the semester, which collected some quantitative data but also invited open comment on a number of issues. Semi-structured interviews with a small subgroup
of participants gave further detail. The results of this initial research are presented here, and indicate that while the overall reaction is positive – acknowledging the benefits of ‘new’ technology or different ways of teaching and learning – there are also barriers to uptake
or use. For instance, students used the iPads quite extensively in the first week,
and indicated that they had underestimated the potential of the iPad as a learning tool (even if familiar with their use in a business or personal setting). Staff also explicitly stated that they saw considerable potential in iPad use in their teaching and were happy to trial new technology. There was a clear preference for more support in their use,
even from experienced technology users. The intention is to revisit the group at the end
of the first semester to consider progress and changes in practice.

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Embedding the iPad as a learning and teaching tool: A case study of staff and student perspectives

  1. 1. Embedding the iPad as a learning and teaching tool: a case study of staff and student perspectives Dr Mary Morrison, Mrs Jean Leah, Ms Fiona Harvey and Mrs Carol Masters
  2. 2. Overview Background Research approach Phase one (paper) Phase two Conclusions
  3. 3. Southampton City University School MBA
  4. 4. Our research design Personalised learning tool Case study of ‘direct experience’ Blended learning
  5. 5. Margaret Driscoll (n.d.) identifies four broad definitions of blended learning, the second of which is “to combine various pedagogical approaches (e.g., constructivism, behaviorism, cognitivism) to produce an optimal learning outcome with or without instructional technology” ‘The appropriate use of theories, methods and technologies to optimise learning’
  6. 6. Our research approach Background Methodology Online survey Case study Individual perspectives Useful for MBA team
  7. 7. Phase one results Survey – online (students 12/25, staff 8/17) Interviews semi-structured: 2 staff and 2 students
  8. 8. Prior use of iPad and tablets (as percentage of respondents in groups)
  9. 9. Comments Student Staff Considered to be a good/ different teaching and learning tool 6 2 Positive about new / different technology 2 7 Considered this to be a sign that students are valued 2 1 Concerned about barriers and lack of system integration 1 1 Portable, light, better than books 2 Comments on provision of iPad (a selection)
  10. 10. Comments Student Staff Useful 8 3 Can use iPad already 3 1 Don’ t need it yet – ie not teaching on MBA yet 1 Prefer not to read user guides 1 2 No time 1 Good to learn about apps 5 Comments on the guide provided
  11. 11. Phase one staff interviews • Potential as learning/ teaching tool • Adjustment of approach needed • Support needed • Technology should enhance learning • Speed of in class researching (good and bad?) • Good for MBA – recognition of special status
  12. 12. Phase one student interviews • Potential (‘the most useful useless device’) • Timesaving • Can transfer practices from work • More support • Familiarity with technology seemed important • Compatibility issues
  13. 13. Barriers and facilitators Wifi coverage Compatibility Using word or other document formats Portability Fast and easy access to internet and email
  14. 14. Phase one conclusions • Too early to draw many conclusions • Valued by both staff and students - distinctive for MBA • Great potential as learning and teaching tool Use should increase over time and with familiarity?
  15. 15. Phase two Survey Staff and students busier Very poor response rate (students 5/25, staff 3/17) Technical issues Interviews (3+3)
  16. 16. Phase two staff interviews • Limited use in class (due to lack of time to prepare, lack of familiarity) • Increasing informal usage (communications, easy access to video and images, texts, use of Facetime with students for meetings) • Noted student usage of iPads (eg with an employer visitor, or as additional tool/ screen) • Would like more guidance
  17. 17. Phase two student interviews • Varied approach, one used iPad as key work and library space, others as additional or back up tool • Direct requests from staff would prompt use • More guidance could help (for staff too) • Culture and familiarity with technology important • Various ideas about how to embed further (advice on apps, learning differences)
  18. 18. Barriers and facilitators Keyboard Not enough guidance Wifi coverage (accommodation) Compatibility with University systems Portability Speed of access E books
  19. 19. Conclusions • iPad good for MBA - adds value, suggests innovation and progression • Powerful tool for blended learning, but staff and students need development opportunities • Personalised learning tool – diverse approaches • Usage generally increased over time • Confident use within the programme depends on a level of familiarity which can only really be achieved through usage (informal/ formal)