An evaluation study of 1:1 tablets in secondary schools – Stage 3

The report summarises findings from an evaluation study of the impact of 1:1 tablets in secondary school. Research for this stage was carried out between April 2013 and September 2013.

The report is in three sections:

  • Section 1 includes face-to-face interviews, ethnography and questionnaires sent to 21 tablet using schools
  • Section 2 summarises the global picture of tablet adoption in schools
  • Section 3 summaries the findings from research conducted with teachers, parents and pupils in 3 schools that were given tablets by Techknowledge for Schools (previously Tablets for Schools) for use in Year 7.

It is clear from the research that the introduction of technology will not necessarily bring about change. There is plenty of anecdotal evidence from the schools visited in the research, and from global research, of technology and devices that had previously been acquired by schools, but not used to their full potential.

The successful implementation of technology to aid teaching and learning relies on a willingness to accept change across the whole school, a collective determination to make the most of what the technology offers, training and familiarisation for staff, and a consideration of the changes to pedagogy that are likely to come about.

Each school in the research has managed the change brought about by the introduction of tablets differently, but strong leadership has been essential and the adoption of a tablet working party which includes members of the leadership team, technical expertise, a business manager and outside support from, for example, another tablet-using school has been a common characteristic.

The findings indicate that the adoption of 1:1 tablet use is best managed within the schools through a collective agreement on the principles of the pedagogical changes that are likely to be brought about, and an objective to ensure parental and staff engagement at an early stage.

Comprehensive management of the school’s infrastructure, including sufficient wifi provision, technical support, provision for repair and insurance, is essential.

Allowing enough time and training for staff to become familiar with the devices, and a clear policy on usage including apps, other content, communication tools, and firm boundaries with, if necessary, the instillation of firewalls, appear to drive successful adoption.

Preparing pupils for life and work in the 21st century is the common objective of these schools, and learning how to manage time and the possibility of distraction through 1:1 tablet use is an important part of this preparation.