A study of the experiences of middle school teachers during the initial stages of a 1:1 iPad trial.

2017-02-22T23:52:04Z (GMT) by Nicholls, Craig William
Since the early 1980’s educational institutions around the globe have invested large amounts of both time and money into the exploration and implementation of a vast range of technological programs. This study focused on the recent and rapidly proliferating phenomenon, the 1:1 iPad program. These programs are characterised by each learner and teacher in a classroom using an iPad as part of daily routine. Since Apple released the first iPad in 2010 there have been studies and trials of this technology in classrooms in a variety of configurations. An investigation into the experiences of educators during these trials has been missing from the discussion and as such this study focused on the experiences of the teacher within the initial stages of a 1:1 iPad trial. It aimed to gain a better understanding of teachers’ attitudes towards the use of iPads in their classrooms and their experiences working in a 1:1 environment. The investigation occurred at the Country campus of Castle College, a multi-campus independent school found in the south-eastern suburbs of Melbourne, Australia. It focused on the experiences of six middle school (Years 5 – 8) teachers from this campus. In 2012, Castle College implemented a 1:1 iPad trial with all Years 5 – 11 students and teachers at the Country campus. This decision represented a significant change in approach for the college and potentially steep learning curve for the teachers involved. In conducting this qualitative case study, data was collected during the initial six months of the iPad trial through observations, semi-structured interviews and questionnaires. Taking this approach created an opportunity to explore the participants’ experiences when integrating iPads into their classes for the first time. This study found that implementing a 1:1 iPad trial, perhaps unsurprisingly, increased the workload of the teachers involved. The participants generally felt that the teaching in a 1:1 iPad environment allowed them to move their students through the curriculum with greater depth and speed. This was achieved through students accessing online resources, creating content and an increase in communication (created by students having easy access to their email). In what could be considered a surprise, these benefits created a situation where an increased workload was generally deemed acceptable by the participants. This study also confirmed the findings of other studies; in that the importance of professional learning when implementing a new technological initiative into a school cannot be overstated. The study does, however, bring a new slant to the discussion in the form of introducing technological domestication theory and the potential to use this to sculpt and target individual professional learning experiences for educators. This however was not the main focus of this study, and further investigation into this area, including developing a matrix of behaviour and a skills checklist, would be beneficial.