Data and Analysis of a High School 1:1 iPad Program.
The Westlake Initiative for Innovation (WIFI) project launched in August of 2011 in the Eanes Independent School District. The objectives – create a culture of digital and global learning, increase the relevance of education in real-world scenarios, and allow for a more individualized, flexible and differentiated learning via 1:1 iPads for every Junior and Senior level student. When the WIFI project began, those may have been the focal points of introducing a new tool into an already successful high school environment, but as our data and focus-group studies have shown us, there were a lot of other unintended outcomes as a result of this pilot.
In October of 2011, students and teachers were surveyed about the use of iPads in their classes. Since only those 38 teachers that were actually in the WIFI program were required to have some sort of integrated instruction with the iPad, some students were in classes that weren’t required to integrate these. It’s actually possible for a Junior to have 7 different teachers that aren’t involved in the WIFI pilot all together (the opposite is also true). That said, here are the outcomes of that initial survey:
Survey Questions and Data –
Number of students taking the survey – 862 total students – 50% Senior, 49% Junior, 1% Other (Some sophomores in upper-level classes also got an iPad)
Number of students that used their iPad to take the survey – 97%
Reading novels or other assigned reading – 88%
Interacting with Websites and Apps – 88%
Taking Notes – 86%
Communicating and organizing (email, calendars, etc) – 85%
Collaborating with others (FaceTime, Google Docs, Social networks, etc) – 75%
Creating movies and presentations – 61%
Completing worksheets – 59%
Using online textbooks – 58%
Analysis: Like the SAMR model of technology infusion, many teachers and students begin to use the iPad as a means to substitute regular tasks in the classroom like note-taking and completing a worksheet. However, the amount of teachers (including those not in the WIFI pilot) that use them for some basic functionality has increased. We attribute some of this to comfort levels, but much of it comes from the students and their expectations of using these in class regularly.
In the next series of questions, we asked the students what effects having the iPad with them in the classroom have on various aspects of their learning. Engagement, motivation, distraction, ability to dig deeper and overall learning experience were measured. Here are the results:
90% of students reported some level of greater motivation to learn
85% of students felt some level of increased engagement in the learning process.
24% of students reported feeling distracted at some level at school with the iPad
Conversely, 40% felt little to no distraction with the iPads at school. (the rest were neutral)
89% reported having the iPad gave them a desire to dig deeper into certain subjects
93% replied that having the iPad in the classroom increased the likely hood of submitting an assignment online rather than paper.
89% Agreed or strongly agreed that overall, having the iPad has enhanced their learning experience.
Analysis: While not 100% in any one area, the iPad had significant effects in the learning process for students. Distraction was a bit of a concern, so we wanted to make sure to follow-up on that with teachers and students in our focus groups later in the year.
Teacher Survey Data
Teachers were given a similar survey with questions on their perspective of how the iPad has affected teaching and learning.
95% reported a high to extremely significant impact on how the iPad has helped them as a teacher
93% use the iPad to research content for their courses during the week and at some point several times a day
100% reported that communication has improved between teacher to student because of the iPad
93% reported that it had improved their assessment abilities to some level, with 34% reporting a significant increase in ease of assessment and data gathering.
96% reported that the iPad helped them accomplish what they need to do each day as a teacher. 30% of that group gave it the highest rating and claimed “I love it and think its the greatest thing since the chalkboard.”
Analysis: Teachers had the iPads in their hands only weeks, or in some cases days, before the students. In the comment section many reported that getting the iPads earlier would have increased their comfort-level and helped them plan for ways to integrate. While the desire for more training stood out, overall the iPad had a significant positive impact on their day-to-day operations as a teacher.
Focus Group Responses –
In December of 2011, the administrative staff at Westlake questioned groups of students and teachers from various classes. The students were chosen at random, coming from various subject areas and courses and not necessarily all with teachers in the WIFI project. Their feedback was extremely valuable and brought to light several unexpected outcomes.
On several occasions, students in the focus group reported a marked decrease in stress levels in school because of the iPad. They no longer had to manage and remember where all their papers are and were as they had them all in one spot. One student said, “It is just easier to keep track of things like notes and homework. It is all right there (on the iPad).”
Another factor in decreased stress levels was the real-time communication that students now had with teachers. One student said, “In the past, when I had a question on an assignment in 3rd period, I had to wait 5 hours until I got home, get on the computer, email the teacher, hope that the teacher was checking email, then wait for a response. Now that both the teachers and students have iPads, I can ask the question during 4th period lunch and have an answer by 5th period. Saving me hours of worry or confusion.”
Distraction was an issue on the October survey, but when asked about the level of distraction in the December focus groups, both teachers and students acknowledged that the distraction was greatly decreased from the first few weeks of having the iPads in hand. Several factors can be attributed to this decrease in distraction. One is that the novelty of the iPad had worn off and students were now truly using them for primarily instructional purposes. Another was that teachers had now become accustomed to managing this new device in their class and the administration at the high school re-enforced the fact that the iPads didn’t have to be used every minute of class. Students also mentioned that “it’s harder to hide an iPad than a phone” when trying to do something they shouldn’t be.
Staff acknowledged that if a student was distracted before the iPad, they would be distracted with it. Many staff reported that the lack of papers in their life made it a time-saver, but there were still some challenges when it came to turning projects and papers in. Repeatedly, staff reported that the anytime access to content and the internet was a significant help in their teaching and the learning of the students.
Lastly, students increasingly saw the iPad as more of a tool than a toy as the semester wore on. Senior Taylor Sutton said, “Students realize how much it is worth to them, so they don’t want it taken away. So it is put away when the teacher asks.” Another student drove home this fact that the iPad had transformed into a “school tool” when he mentioned that over the holiday break he left his iPad at a friend’s house for the entire two weeks. He felt like it was something that you use for school and wanted a break from it as well. Of course, the night before 2nd semester, he said it was charged and ready to go.
Summary of data and focus groups:
The data and feedback from staff and students would suggest that, like any new tool, the iPad experienced the classic “implementation dip” in late September/early October. Since then, it’s value in the classroom has continued to rise as distraction has given way to authentic learning. Teachers use of the iPads in their lessons began primarily as substitutive in nature, but has seen an increased in augmented uses and in some cases, teachers even redefining how they teach. Teachers across the board desired more training and support when it comes to integration of the iPad in their daily lessons.
Student research and questioning suggests that it has transformed learning at an even greater rate than that of teaching. They have discovered new and creative ways to use the iPad to help them learn and collaborate, including some students making use of FaceTime to remote into a class when they are out sick. As the value of this learning tool has increased, the singularly most asked question by Seniors is “can we buy these at the end of the semester so I can use it for college.”
All in all, the WIFI pilot has had its share of challenges to both teaching and learning, but overall, the summary of its intended and unintended outcomes has made it a success. This success is best addressed through the voices of the students. One recent quote that summarizes this success was from Student body President Steven Wilbanks. When he was asked in January how the iPad has affected his education he said, “I can’t remember what it was like to learn without this. Honestly, it seems like the old way of learning (without the iPad) was a long time ago.”Thanks to Cathy Cluck, WHS teacher for organizing and collecting the teacher survey results. Thanks to Stephen Shands, WHS Assistant Principal, for sharing quotes from focus group feedback. Special thanks to WHS Students Arnab Chatterjee and Steven Wilbanks for organizing and collecting student data as well as presenting to the Eanes School Board their findings.