Which m-device for which age group? The iPad/iPod vs the Laptop

Is there any evidence that you know of that shows that an ipad, or ipod, or laptop have a bigger educational impact at different age groups.

This year I was given the challenge of teaching grade prep/one ICT. As a secondary teacher of ICT, I usually teach the senior levels of the school. Teaching prep completed my teaching load, this year, as year 11 numbers are small. I was and still am rather nervous about this but here are my experiences so far.  However, I strongly believe that in our technological age, students need to be able to use their voice, multi-media, animation as well as straight text for communication.

Computer access

  • Class set of 10 iPads across the school
  • Computer lab room access with 20 xPC desktops
  • Primary school set of 20 netbooks

My findings

  • I did not have to teach the preps how to use a mouse or a keyboard. They all came with that knowledge
  • They cannot spell well enough to find images through clip art except eg cat etc
  • Their writing skills are not developed well enough to use MS Word or word processors for any length of time.
  • They can use an iPad readily – swipe, slide, pinch in and out etc without much instruction
  • They cannot cope well with the touch keypad on a netbook
  • Students of all ages like the gesture based nature of iPads, the high definition graphics etc
  • the older students (from years 10 – 12) will often  use their phones to capture images of work, save resources etc.

Challenges

  • The iPads are very much a personal device. How can we use them effectively as class sets.
  • I only have them for one lesson per week  (take out all the extra curricula events that occur)
  • I do not want to use skill and drill apps on the iPad but the creativity apps. I need to wait until our librarian has time to add some of these apps eg iTalk, puppet pals, Art Maker, Drawing Star, Doodle Buddy, Toontastic, music creation apps etc. I need splitters  for pairs to share. They can quickly and easily create multi-media outcomes but how to best share!
  • While this is being done, we are learning kahootz, MS Paint, adding simple images and text to MS Word documents.
  • The first thing students want to do is share ie print their work and take it home. We do that easily from the desktops but am still working out the best way from iPads. Dropbox is being installed now, we are trying to work out the emailing option etc!  Cost of apps is another factor.

Overall conclusions (from my point of view)

I like having access to both resources, but it is time consuming to learn how to use both systems best. The technical requirements eg software updates, sharing the work etc is still being worked upon with the iPad devices. Students in our school from years 5 to 12 have their own netbook. The computers/netbooks are successfully used with my grade 4/5 class. When given the choice of an iPad or iPod to use, the majority chose the iPod!

Our Victorian Education Dept has provided us with edustar image that has many wonderful tools for recording, video, screencasting, podcasting etc for a PC Laptop.  Given a computer device, students will use them innovatively and creatively if given and taught how to use the tools. They can make learning more efficient, effective and when used collaboratively, potentially more powerful.

And…  the senior students… they will increasingly use their phones!

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