To iPad or not to iPad: Mobile Language Learning with Middle-School Children

Sonia Rocca

Abstract


This paper follows up on Rocca (2015a), providing additional new data from the experimental group in seventh grade. This is a small-scale study that comes under the purview of participant observation research. The continuation of the study for another year evened out the comparison between the two groups and dispelled concerns about vitiating variables affecting participant behavior, such as Hawthorne effect and novelty effect. The control group in sixth and seventh grade was compared to the experimental group in the same two grades. Both groups shared the same curriculum, the same teacher and the same amount of teaching periods. However, they differed in class size, with the experimental group being almost double the size of the control group, and most importantly, the equipment of iPads for the experimental group, which belonged to the school-sponsored 1:1 program. Results show that the iPadded group, generally using ‘Notability’, performed at a higher level for two consecutive years across the four language skills, especially in aural-oral skills where a ceiling effect was also observed. In general, the utilization of the mobile technology transformed classroom practices, enhancing the input the students were exposed to as well as the output they produced, empowering them with tools to control and monitor their work. The conclusion argues that technology plays a role in making both teaching and learning more mobile and therefore more sustainable.


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