ThinkBlaze is a project we’ve been working on the last few months; it is a research and idea generation organization backed by Outblaze – an Outblaze think tank, in other words. Today ThinkBlaze has issued its first work, a study titled “Does the Learning Medium Matter?” It looks at the impact of low-cost tablets on children in elementary school with some considerations about the very serious problem of the Digital Divide. You can get the entire report at the ThinkBlaze web site (it’s free and no registration is required).
The report is pretty long and attention spans are not, so here is the summary of findings from the introduction; we do recommend reading the paper as it provides some important information and background that are highly relevant to these results.
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.
Outblaze and ThinkBlaze would love to receive your thoughts on this. We are still new to this area and have a lot to learn – please feel free to give us your opinion. Contact us about this project by writing to email@example.com.
We leave you with an especially interesting bar chart showing the differences in performance and perceived performance between boys and girls who used tablets or paper to complete an assignment. You can find this and other graphics in the downloadable report (PDF).