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Associated Press, Published June 30 2013

Minnesota report shows technology boosts student learning

LAKEVILLE, Minn. – Lakeville school superintendent Lisa Snyder said she was happy with a report that shows the district’s investment in technology is paying off – but she is not surprised.

A new iLearn Research report says 23 of the more than 30 classrooms or programs that did research on new iPads last year showed an increase in student engagement. Twenty-four reported that student motivation went up, and 20 saw gains in learning.

“This is innovation at its best, and I’m really excited about that,” said Roz Peterson, school board chairwoman.

Trish Harvey, the district’s digital learning coordinator, said classes that reported no gains either saw no change or had teachers who were reluctant to attribute progress only to iPad use. No one reported negative results, she said.

Teachers who wanted iPads had to apply for an iLearn grant from the district in 2011. A total of 1,900 iPads were distributed and 108 teachers were involved in using the devices.

The teachers had to come up with a plan for incorporating the devices and conduct research on student motivation, engagement and learning. Each teacher or team chose how to measure those areas.

When the report was discussed at last week’s board meeting, two board members said they wanted more student-achievement data to measure the program’s success.

“We need to have better data versus just what the teacher came up with,” board member Michelle Volk said.

Snyder said she understood the desire for more proof, but she believes the teacher-led research provided a truthful picture.

Snyder also said the report’s outcomes were likely affected by teachers’ enthusiasm to use the iPads.

Nine of the classes involved had one iPad per student. Harvey said those students saw the greatest gains.

Chris Myers, the district’s digital learning coach, said teachers who shared iPads among several classes reported it was challenging, and not much different from taking students to a computer lab to use shared computers.