Team Reviews State Textbook Alternative Project

Student and teacher

A team from Radford University is currently evaluating the use of iPads and related technology in classrooms throughout Virginia.

A team led by Radford University’s Matt Dunleavy, assistant professor of educational technology, and graduate assistants Laura Schamus and Brittney Simmons has completed “Beyond Textbooks Year One,” a report for the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) on a VDOE project to integrate iPads into kindergarten through 12th grade classrooms in selected schools across the state.

 “We conducted interviews and observations with participating teachers and students over the course of several months, which is really a snapshot on some of the pros and cons of using these new technologies in the classroom,” Dunleavy said.

“Beyond Textbooks” is a pilot program to explore the technical, social and policy implications of textbook alternatives. The project identifies cost-effective models that blend conventional textbooks with content and resources afforded by mobile devices such as the iPad. The VDOE study evaluated Phase I of the initiative from the perspective of participating students and teachers at elementary, middle and high schools in Newport News, Henry County, Pulaski County and Arlington.

Increased student independence and increased engagement in the learning process were noted by students and teachers, the report stated. It also pointed out that, as students’ comfort levels with the technology increased, teachers gained more freedom to become facilitators of learning. 

“The Virginia Department of Education should be commended for being one of the national leaders trying to assess how we can use these emerging technologies to enhance education,” Dunleavy said. “In collaboration with the VDOE, we hope to leverage the powerful immersive and interactive capabilities of this technology to enhance instruction, but more research needs to be conducted to ensure we maximize the benefits and minimize the inevitable costs.” 

Radford University’s College of Education and Human Development through its GAMeS Lab is actively studying and developing many facets of mobile learning. In collaboration with New River Community College, the GAMeS Lab develops iPad and iPod touch applications aligned with Virginia’s Standards of Learning and tests their efficacy locally in the Radford City and Pulaski County public schools through the VDOE-funded iLearn project. The GAMeS Lab also develops augmented reality experiences through its Radford Outdoor Augmented Reality (ROAR) Project, funded by the National Science Foundation.

For more information, visit the iLearn and ROAR websites:

Aug 7, 2011
Don Bowman