Connections, diversity, coherence: Three vignettes exploring learning with iPads in primary schools

After much deliberation and collaboration I am delighted to be able to share a research paper exploring learning with iPads written by Karen Melhuish, Tania Coutts, Tara Fagan and me!

The paper was published as a special iPad focussed edition by Otago University Centre for Distance Learning

The paper’s abstract follows…

In New Zealand, there are growing numbers of schools which are investing in iPad
deployment, ranging from schools who have made a strong commitment to iPads
through to those who have purchased a small number for student groups to use. Recent
studies have comprehensively reflected the kinds of affordances that iPads offer, such as
mobility, flexibility, ease of use, and range of applications. It is timely to begin to
consider the type of education that might be afforded by such technologies. Using three
future-focused themes—diversity, connectedness and coherence (Bolstad, Gilbert,
McDowall, Bull, Boyd, & Hipkins, 2012)—as lenses for analysis, this paper presents
three vignettes from junior classes that reflect the way iPads might afford deep,
personalised approaches to learning to support young people effectively as they move
through their school years. The analysis suggests that, where educators adopt a
learner-centred pedagogy as part of a whole school systematic vision for learning,
iPads can offer a powerful tool for engagement.

You can read the whole paper by clicking on this link.

There are quite a few other well researched papers in the edition that make them well worth a read. Click here to read more of the iPad research.



5 thoughts on “Connections, diversity, coherence: Three vignettes exploring learning with iPads in primary schools

  1. Fascinating stuff. Though I myself don’t own or have ever used an Ipad, I still think it’s interesting how technologically advanced classrooms are becoming over the years. I sometimes imagine what it’d be like to take a child or a person from, say, 50 years ago and then plant them in a modern classroom. They’d probably think we’re all living in some sort of sci-fi novel, heh.

  2. I am a student at University of South Alabama in the U.S.A. In my class EMD310, we are exploring the use of blogs and technology in the class room. As part of that class I am commenting and will be summarizing your post and my comments on my blog at

    My concern would be about the use of “iPad” in the research. Tablets are varied and plentiful in their use, with much better options than Apple’s well known device being singled out. I think this type of thinking is detrimental to the vast majority of users. In 2013 Android dominated the market share with 62% of tablets and growing.
    Apple doesn’t own the market anymore and with the majority of the world’s population being below the income level to afford the overpriced iPad, I would like to see the use of iPad/iPod/iPhone as a house hold name to refer to those sorts of devices, eliminated.
    These numbers are of course not even factoring the rising popularity of Microsoft’s tablets and phones.

    Do you think I have missed the point of this published paper and the use of “iPad” can be interchanged easily with any other brand?

  3. Hi Aaron

    You are to be congratulated in thinking about the article I shared and taking it purely at face value. In this instance we were asked to write an article specifically around iPad use. I have spent some time researching great uses of tablets generally in primary schools and some of the schools I work with are entirely Windows/Android in platform.

    I have found the iPad to have a more focussed market in primary schools where developers understand the learning environment and target that audience well.

    I have found for my tablet that many apps that I might use have advertising on them and I refuse to use any app where children could possibly link out onto dating/advertising/unsavoury websites.

    Also I downloaded a number of Android books for junior school children to read and they were ALL rubbish- written by non English speakers or just generally not well written books. On the other hand, maybe because of quality control in Apple, the books tend to be of a far better quality.

    Tablets might have a larger market share in the general public but I would dispute that figure in New Zealand primary schools, at least.

    Where schools have bought tablets, largely on price differences, they have found quite profound challenges in using them to support learners in a way similar to iPad users can.



  4. Hi Aaron,

    I tried to respond on your blog but I am not sure that it would work so have posted here in case you don’t get it.

    Hi there

    I am not sure that this comment will post correctly as I do not want to comment while logged into my Google Account as it will lead to my personal family blog which is obviously personal!

    Just to clarify about the research paper- we were asked to share our research around the use of iPads in schools- not other devices. In this instance the use of the term iPad is very specific and not inter-changeable with some other device that doesn’t serve the purpose as well.

    Agreed some apps are now universal and can be found on Android devices as well – they are limited and few and far between.

    Apple have been quite specific in targeting and supporting the educational market and it shows with their product.

    What percentage of the educational market does Apple have?

    This article says 95% share- not sure of the reliability of the article but it would be close I should imagine.

    Things like switch capability, volume purchasing, bulk deployment and the whole community around the use of iOS devices is very supportive of the iOS device.

    If you were to use the term mobile learning or tablets then you could lump them all in together but iOS is a breed apart from the others.

    Good luck with your course.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *