What’s the difference? Learning collaboratively using iPads in conventional classrooms

Garry Falloon*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

61 Citations (Scopus)


Since its release in 2010, Apple's iPad has attracted much attention as an affordable and flexible learning tool for all levels of education. A number of trials have been undertaken exploring the device's efficacy for specific purposes, such as improving delivery of course content and learning resources at tertiary level, and the performance of apps for meeting specialised learning needs. However, with increased mainstreaming of these devices through iPad-supported modern learning environment (MLE) and Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) programmes, data are becoming available that provides insight into how these devices function as part of regular classroom environments. This article reports an analysis of data collected over almost 3 years from nearly 100 New Zealand primary (elementary) students of different ages, who used iPads daily for most curriculum tasks. Specifically, it uses different data sources to explore how observed and recorded device design and app attributes, affected the students' ability to work collaboratively.

Results suggest fundamental differences exist between iPads and other digital devices that helped these students collaborate, and that when combined with cloud-based apps and services such as Google Docs, extended this collaboration to much wider audiences well beyond the school gate. It concludes that beyond the hype and rhetoric, exciting potential exists for this tool to support a ‘blurring in the line’ between learning in formal school and informal environments.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)62-77
Number of pages16
JournalComputers and Education
Publication statusPublished - May 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • iPad
  • collaboration
  • Google Docs
  • learner
  • BYOD


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