Adolescent girls and technology: Tablet PC computers as learning tools
This qualitative research, using a case study design, explores adolescent girls' use and perceptions of, as well as interest in, the Tablet PC. Limited information is currently available about the types of computers that adolescent girls prefer, and specifically, if the Tablet PC is uniquely well suited to their learning and learning styles.
Ten adolescent, ninth grade girls at an all-girl, college-preparatory, independent school in the Midwest were selected because they were participants in a new one-to-one computing program with Tablet PCs. Researcher-designed, open-ended individual interview and online discussion forum questions using an open source software called Moodle, were employed. Log and field notes were also maintained, noting descriptions of the interviews and interviewer reflections and questions that emerged as a result of the interviews and Moodle discussion forum sessions. The study was conducted and analyzed over a six month period and utilized QSR NVIVO 7, a qualitative analysis software package, to develop the codes, categories, and themes.
The primary themes that emerged from the study are: The Tablet PC has tools/features that enable the student to organize learning materials; The Tablet PC is most useful when the teachers and students using it have training; and The Tablet PC is most useful when the infrastructure that supports it is stable and predictable. The secondary themes that emerged are: The Tablet PC is most useful when each teacher and student has his/her own Tablet PC to use 24/7; and The Tablet PC supports note taking, note enhancing, and note reviewing.
Major recommendations for future research include diversifying the sample, further investigating the importance of the girls having their own computer in a one-to-one learning environment, comparing and contrasting the benefits and challenges of Tablet PCs versus laptops, examining the impact on girls' bodies from carrying computers all day in the learning environment, and investigating the importance of adolescent girls' use of their handwriting in electronic documents to strengthen their learning.