Tablet use in HE

Queen Mary University London launches one of the largest ever studies of tablet use in UK higher education

Over 100 students starting Chemistry and Pharmaceutical Chemistry courses at Queen Mary University London (QMUL) this month will be entering what is believed to be one of the largest ever studies of tablet use in higher education.

The students on BSc, MSc and BSc with Industry Placement courses will be issued with a Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 tablet preloaded with relevant educational software and asked to use it throughout the year in an effort to establish whether the devices have a positive impact on their education.

Students will be encouraged to use their tablets to take notes in lectures, annotate electronic handouts, engage with interactive activities during the lectures, watch explanatory videos in the teaching laboratory and complete their coursework assessments. It is expected that tablet use will allow coursework to be marked more quickly (as lecturers have also been issued with tablets) and feedback to be given almost instantly.

The study, which will run until March 2015, will also investigate the impact on the ten lecturers who will be delivering the teaching to the students in the study.

Nathalie Lebrasseur, Chemistry Teaching Fellow at QMUL and the project’s leader, said:“Today’s undergraduates have grown up with smartphones and tablets so it’s important that we find out if technology that they are so comfortable with is useful in the classroom. It could increase productivity and open new channels of communication between students and lecturers or be an unhelpful distraction but we won’t know until we test it.”

“Often these projects are led by one enthusiastic teacher which could bias the study so we’ve made sure that while some of our lecturers are already comfortable with the technology others aren’t so convinced. It will be useful to know if the lecturer’s enthusiasm makes a difference to how useful students find the tablets.”