iPad vs Standardised test


Student A has an iPad and is asked to show they understand Topic X

Student B is given a textbook and then a written test on Topic X


Student A uses the internet on the iPad to research current views regarding what’s important about Topic X and considers how it might be best illustrated using the numerous tools available on the iPad.

Student B reads the fixed content in the textbook (written 12 years ago) and considers how the questions might be framed in the test within the context of the given text.


Student A uses the iPad to storyboard a documentary that they will film with friends and edit on the iPad to illustrate their understanding of Topic X.

Student B reads the given text and seeing the Topic now has fixed boundaries asks friends if they’ve had a test on Topic X before and looks on the internet for past exam papers on Topic X.


Student A has ownership over the process and is intrinsically motivated to produce the best product and gains a deeper understanding of Topic X.

Student B is motivated by the attainment of a score in the test and as it’s not a goal he decided on, will take any shortcut to achieve this score, including rote learning answers for the test but often leaving revision to the night before. The teacher hopes that being focused on obtaining a good test score, understanding of Topic X will be an obvious by-product.


Student A has the documentary peer reviewed by other students who enjoy watching the film and explain which elements of Topic X are best illustrated. Student A re-films a sequence to improve the film they have developed and will never forget making.

Student B finishes with 66 out of a 100 in Topic X and moves on to Topic Y.

iPad = Autonomy = Passion

A desire to create Life-long learners can only be achieved if the learning in question is owned by the learner. If students work from the same textbook and sit the same exam, it is the teacher’s education not theirs and a genuine connection to the learning process is never formed. Introduction of iPads in schools should come in conjunction with a move away from the 20th Century idea that students don’t want to learn and external incentives must be applied. Given autonomy over the learning process means that a student with an iPad can find genuine enjoyment in all learning. They can enjoy displaying their talents whilst developing new ones in an environment that understands that humans do enjoy both working and learning. They just need freedom to choose the technique and time at which they will achieve the desired result. The iPad means that no student is restricted to only those tools on offer by the teacher or classroom.

Now that many global businesses (Google, Apple, Best Buy) are abandoning their 20th Century work structures, schools must follow suit or face becoming irrelevant within five years.

Four things that kill true motivation to learn:

1. Tests

2. Textbooks \ worksheets

3. Chalk & talk

4. Content based Qualifications.

Please start thinking about the chasm opening up between school life and ‘real’ life. Think about how fast the world is changing and developing and how relevant your students’ activities are when under your supervision.

There’s nothing more depressing than seeing 100% on a test. Imagine what that student could have achieved without the ceiling imposed by the fixed content.


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