Advantages and Disadvantages of an Innovative Tablet Technology Learning Activity: A Ten Year Case Study in Small Tertiary Mathematics Classrooms

Daphne Robson, Britta Basse
Journal of Information Technology Education: Innovations in Practice  •  Volume 17  •  2018  •  pp. 225-239

To identify positive and negative aspects for learning of interactive tablet technology learning activities that promote student engagement and learning.

Engaging students in mathematics classes is an on-going challenge for teachers.
In 2008 we were offered the opportunity to run interactive activities with a class set of tablet PCs that had just been released on to the market. Since then, we have run these interactive activities continuously with mathematics classes for computing students, albeit with two changes in hardware.

In the interactive activities, students submit full worked solutions to various problem types (classified as table, text, open or multi-choice) which can then be displayed to the class anonymously, discussed and annotated by the teacher. We surveyed student and staff perceptions and monitored academic performance.

We have over 10 years of results, observations, and experience from 2008, when tablet technologies were new and expensive, to the current time, when modern tablets with styli are now affordable.

There was a significant increase in higher grades although pass rates did not increase significantly. Over the ten year period of the study, perceptions of students and staff about how this technology impacted on student learning were consistently positive. The majority of students found all problem types useful for learning even those they rated “too hard” or “too easy”. Benefits included increased feedback, peer learning and engagement.

We recommend using tablet learning activities to engage students and teachers and to contribute to learning.

This study shows how using tablet technologies for interactive classroom activities can enable and enhance known pedagogies of feedback, peer instruction, and student engagement for mathematics classes.

We recommend extending this study to include larger classes, and other technical subjects that use symbols and diagrams. In addition, we suggest considering control groups.

interactive, engagement, achievement, digital ink, feedback
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