Boys take to reading - when it's on an iPad

TECH READ: Randwick School pupils Jacob Steele, 13 (left) and Kamou Kissling, 13, find using tablets helps their learning.
TECH READ: Randwick School pupils Jacob Steele, 13 (left) and Kamou Kissling, 13, find using tablets helps their learning.

Technology is helping to boost the appeal of reading for young boys, and they're getting smarter because of it, new research has found.

Primary school-aged boys with little interest in reading are finding that using iPads and netbooks in the classroom adds a touch of competition and fun.

Massey University researcher Jenny Poskitt studied two year 4 classes and two year 5 and 6 classes in Palmerston North this year to measure pupils' reading comprehension when using technology.

Randwick School pupils Jacob Steele, 13, left and Kamou Kissling,13
Randwick School pupils Jacob Steele, 13, left and Kamou Kissling,13

She said boys aged 10 and 11 made gains in their reading ability of six times the nationally expected average when using the devices.

The variety of apps and activities appealed to boys because it meant less physical writing or worrying about the tidiness of their work.

They also enjoyed the creative freedom of being able to express their thinking in a non-verbal way, she said.

A Lower Hutt school that has been using a book club to tackle boys' distaste for reading has also adopted technology as a way to inspire them.

"It's caused a big change in engagement, because boys are less likely to read paperbacks," said Randwick School principal Simonne Goodall.

"Boys often just aren't as interested in reading and don't like having to write things down."

The school has a supply of 20 iPads and 10 netbooks but is in the process of investing in a lot more because of the progress pupils have made.

"The multimedia element means they enjoy the nature of it more, with the sounds and interactive features," Ms Goodall said.

"It could also be a bit of a cool factor and not wanting to be seen reading a book, so having an iPad hides that."

Year 8 pupils Jacob Steele and Kamou Kissling, both 13, said they read more because they could use iPads.

Kamou said it was much more interactive than reading a book, and he learned more because of the features that helped with explaining the story.

Being able to compete with classmates and play games to help with reading was a big plus for Jacob.

"My reading has improved a lot using an iPad, because if there's a word that I don't understand I can click on it and it explains it all to me."

Fairfax Media