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Mobile Phones in the Classroom

12 July 2009 2 Comments

I have just recently completed a literature review exploring mobile phones in the classroom.  It focuses solely on mobile phones as these are the tools our students already have.  Here are my conclusions.  A full copy of my review is available for download from Scribd here (references are a separate doc and are here).

Mobile Phones in the Clasroom : Conclusions

Educators world-wide are grappling with changes to the face of schooling brought about by the role that new technologies, and in particular the internet, play in teaching and learning.  Changes to the New Zealand Curriculum (Ministry of Education, 2008) invite and encourage teachers to explore the many new technologies available to them and their students and it would seem that mobile phones should be no less considered as one of these technologies.   This review has found that while there are a number of concerns with teenagers and their appropriation of mobile phones, the current system of banning these at school is not addressing or working to solve these issues.  In contrast, with the more positively framed new found capabilities of particularly 3G mobile devices, it would appear that there is a wide-scope for working with teenagers to extend their understanding of the way they might make use of the technology.

In-light of some of the ways that educators are choosing to use mobile phones as covered in this review, it becomes very clear that the technology enables a wide-range of variation for the use of these devices within an educational setting.  However, in order to make the most of many of these learning opportunities, it is going to require a fundamental rethink of the way teaching and learning happens.  Simply using mobile phones to teach using traditional methodologies will not be effective.  However, nor will planning teaching and learning episodes solely focused on what the technology is capable of.  From the findings of this review, rethinking when and where learning opportunities can take place and how mobile technologies can facilitate this is fundamental to developing sound teaching and learning practice.

There is no denying that the impact of accessing the internet on-demand coupled with the proliferation of information and resources available (some of which students are creating themselves) is going to have an impact on the skills students need to cope with working and living in a highly-connected society.  Schools and individual teachers need to ensure that teaching and learning practice includes providing students with the opportunity to learn these skills, particularly a skill such as information literacy.  However, government education bodies, such as New Zealand’s Ministry of Education, also must ensure that teachers are themselves provided with the training to develop their own skills in this area also.

While there is a great deal of research in the use of mobile technologies in the education, many studies are small, isolated instances of use, with the extensive research from Nottingham University (Sharples et al.) being a notable exception. Much of the research focuses on a variety of mobile technologies.  However, it was the intention of this review to focus solely on the use of mobile phones – due to the fact that many New Zealand school students already own these.  Much of the content accessed for this literature review included studies and research particularly related to the tertiary and vocational education settings, many of which highlighted or explored the potential of mobile phones for enabling authentic life-long learning and this is an area with a great-deal of scope for further exploration.

2 Comments »

  • Jonathan Nalder said:

    Yes, its all about the mindset change! I find this is the main thing I try and get across when speaking to people about mLearning here is Australia - going from a classroom and occasionaly the library -focused world to one where the learning environment is everywhere does take a bit of explaining, but it is the key to avoiding just using mobile to do old things in new ways.

  • Education Investigation » Blog Archive » mLearning and Pedagogy said:

    [...] Information”. Since then she continues to pursue this topic and in one of her recent posts Toni made this pivotal statement: In-light of some of the ways that educators are choosing to use [...]

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