Since its introduction in 2010, Apple’s iPad has received much attention from education commentators, citing its unique touch screen, portability, relative low cost and huge array of apps, as offering significant potential to support learning at all levels.
This paper summarises key findings from the first two phases of a 3-year study exploring primary school students’ use of iPads and apps in general class settings. These phases focused on using iPads for developing foundation literacy, numeracy and problem-solving skills, and analysed the nature of oral discourse that occurred while students were completing iPad-based learning tasks.
Data were collected using a specially-developed ‘observeware’ app that recorded the iPad’s display and student verbal interaction while they were working with a range of open and closed-design apps.
Findings highlight a complex relationship existing between student knowledge and dispositional factors, peer-interaction, and app design, content and features that influences the quality of learning students generate. Furthermore, they suggest using open-design apps in pairs or small groups can provide valuable opportunities to develop exploratory talk, when iPads are used as public work space devices.
This paper will present illustrative data from the study, and raise considerations for teachers, researchers and app developers to help inform more effective designs and use of apps for learning.