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Using iPads in school 'can be beneficial for young children'

30/05/2017 Joanna

A new study has demonstrated the potential educational benefit of incorporating the use of tablet devices into the teaching of young children.

The Mobile Devices in Early Learning study was carried out by Stranmillis University College and involved around 650 pupils from five Belfast primary schools and five nursery schools over two years, reports BBC News.

These schools - which were among the most deprived in their respective areas - were supplied with iPads for nursery, primary one, primary two and primary three classes, providing teachers with a new tool to engage and educate children.

It was found that the use of these devices had a positive impact on children's literacy and numeracy skills, with children finding the iPad-centric lessons to be more motivating, engaging and enjoyable due to a perception that they were playing, rather than working.

Boys saw the greatest benefit from the introduction of digital technology in terms of enthusiasm levels, particularly when producing pieces of written work, while a surprising finding was that communication skills between students were also enhanced by the addition of iPads to the classroom.

Study author Dr Colette Gray from Stranmillis University College said: "It's not a panacea or the holy grail, but is another method to reach children who might otherwise underachieve.

"For many children, it does seem like a playful learning activity; children, even if working alone, would talk to each other or talk to the teacher. There was actually an increase in communication in the classroom, which we didn't initially anticipate."

Teachers taking part in the study were keen to note that the iPads did not act as a replacement for pens and paper, but were instead used as an alternative method that gave them a wider range of tools with which to work.

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