Electronic media in the classroom: A qualitative study on the use of notebook computers (one computer for each student) in the first and second phases of German secondary education

Since the commencement of the 2012/13 academic year, the Georg Eckert Institute has been carrying out an academic study of the introduction of notebook computers for pupils at three schools in Braunschweig, a comprehensive school, an academic secondary school (Gymnasium) and a secondary school for general/vocationally oriented education (Realschule). Year groups at each of these schools have been provided with notebook computers by the charitable organisation Bürgerstiftung Braunschweig and Intel GmbH.

This empirical study’s aim is to investigate the changes brought about in the way educational media are used in schools by the permanent and habitual use of notebook computers in the classroom. The project is exploring the changes and improvements headteachers, teachers and pupils hoped or expected to see arising from the use of notebook computers in the classroom; how teaching and learning has actually changed due to the introduction of the computers; which areas of teaching and learning appear not to benefit from the use of notebook computers; and how blended learning in the classroom works in practice. The researchers are also interested in ascertaining how, and to what extent, key principles of teaching in various subjects can be implemented, and specific student skills developed, by the use of digital teaching and learning.

In the autumn of 2012, researchers from the GEI interviewed the headteachers of the schools involved in the study, as well as four teachers from each of the schools, on their expectations as regarded the impending introduction of the notebook computers. Further interviews with these teachers and headteachers took place in the summer of 2013, at the end of the school year; these interviews focused on the staff members’ experiences with using the notebook computers and other digital media during the year. An online questionnaire was used to ascertain the students’ expectations of using the computers and their previous experience of digital learning media. The findings of the study will be presented in an expertise to be produced by the Georg Eckert Institute.

A working paper presenting the overall findings of the study is available (in German).

Project Lead