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Digital technology `can help improve numeracy, literacy and communication skills'

Report authors Dr Colette Gray, Dr Pamela Moffett, Dr Jill Dunn

TABLET devices in classrooms can have a positive impact on the development of young children's literacy, numeracy and communication skills, researchers have found.

In a new report, researchers at Stranmillis University College found that the use of portable devices such as iPads and tablets were beneficial.

Nursery and primary schools in areas of high social deprivation and academic under-achievement took part in the study.

Principal investigator Dr Colette Gray said the introduction of digital technology had a positive impact on literacy and numeracy in all participating schools.

Researchers also found that children's confidence and "ownership of the learning process" were enhanced, their creativity and technical skills improved and fine motor skills reinforced.

In addition, teachers' motivation and enthusiasm were positively impacted.

"Digital technology, especially portable devices, is becoming an everyday part of young people's lives," Dr Gray said.

"Many of our schools have already recognised the potential of iPads and tablets and have integrated them into their classroom practices. The primary objective of this study was to assess the impact such devices have on children's learning in the Early Years and Foundation Stage of education, particularly in relation to literacy and numeracy.

"The study findings showed that, in the five participating schools, the introduction of digital technology has had a positive impact on the development of pupil literacy and numeracy skills. And, contrary to initial expectations, principals and teachers also reported that their use had enhanced children's communication skills, acting as a stimulus for peer to peer and pupil to teacher discussion."

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