Tablets and smart mobile devices are the most recent addition to the long list of technological innovations believed to support and enhance the teaching process and learning process. This review aimed at going beyond the general hype around tablets and smart mobile devices to investigate the evidence supporting their use in educational contexts. To achieve this purpose, a systematic review of quantitative and qualitative research studies published since 2010 was completed. A rigorous review process resulted in the inclusion of 27 quantitative studies that were subjected to a full-scale meta-analytic procedure, and 41 qualitative research studies that were reviewed for substantive study characteristics. A significant average effect size was found for studies comparing tablet use contexts with no tablet use contexts (g+ = 0.23, k = 28). For studies comparing two different uses of tablets by students, the average effect size (g+ = 0.68, k = 12) showed a significant favouring of more student-centred pedagogical use of technology. Although not statistically tested, the findings also indicate that higher effect sizes are achieved when the devices are used with a student-centred approach rather than within teacher-led environments. Similarly, the qualitative literature review revealed that tablets and smart mobile devices are garnering positive perceptions within educational contexts, with the strongest support showing for the technologies’ effectiveness in particular tasks and when used within more student-active contexts. Finally, the review provides an overview of the Turkish Fatih Project as a case study and highlights the lessons learned.

Publication Date: 
2015