The Androids are back: results of the tablets for education study
Earlier this year Animoca co-sponsored a project led by our sister company Outblaze wherein a lot of Android tablets were donated to a school in need of IT equipment. We enthusiastically discussed the project in posts such as this one, this other, and that one until we feared we’d run out of Android/robot metaphors. Today the results of the project have been made available by ThinkBlaze, the newly-launched Outblaze think tank, and no one was more excited than Animoca.
The report by ThinkBlaze bears the impressive title “Does the Learning Medium Matter? A Study on the Use of Low-cost Tablets in the Classroom, and Observations on the Digital Divide”. It’s a fascinating document that investigates the impact of tablets used in one elementary school, and advocates addressing the problem of the digital divide from an early age.
The above image is probably our single favorite piece of visual information in the report. It shows differences in reading comprehension between grade 4 boys and girls, how the use of tablets impacted reading comprehension, and also the effect that tablets had on how well the subjects thought they did in the reading comprehension test (i.e., perceived performance).
As Outblaze succinctly put it, “the report is pretty long and attention spans are not” so, rather than describe at length a document that can speak for itself we’ll leave you with the summary of findings and a direct link to the report (PDF).
Does the Learning Medium Matter? The Summary
Reading comprehension: fourth-grade students scored higher when reading on paper than on tablet, whereas grade 6 students scored similarly on both media.
Perceived performance: fourth- and sixth-grade students who completed the reading comprehension tests reported their perceived performance. We found an interaction effect between “medium” and “gender” in the perceived performance of fourth-graders: boys reported higher perceived performance when reading on tablets, while girls reported higher perceived performance when reading on paper. Among the sixth-graders we found no statistically significant differences between paper and tablet use for perceived performance scores.
Memory retention: first-grade students who attempted to memorize a set of images presented on paper and on tablets obtained higher correct memory scores when they viewed the images on paper; however, their lower scores when using tablets could be explained by experimental procedure (see discussion).
Academic performance: the teachers of grades 1, 4 and 6 students participating in this study reported no effect on academic performance after one month of regular in-class tablet use, although we suspect that longer exposure is necessary to determine the impact of tablets on academic performance.