Mobile device ownership is increasing in South Africa. Research shows that there are about 20 million smartphone users in SA and students account for a large number in this. There have been increasing discussions about the benefits of going mobile in education. Students, as well as education institutions, are beginning to discover the many benefits of using mobile technology in the classroom.
Efficiency: The Present Use Of Mobile Technology In The Classroom
A research recently conducted at the University of KwaZulu-Natal revealed that 92% of students say that it is easier to use their mobile device to improve their access to information. Students are confident that with their mobile devices, they will not be stranded and will be able to find anything they want to find, right at the time they need it. Whether it’s general information on the internet or it’s information related to their course, the mobile device helps students achieve it faster.
One postgraduate student said mobile technology “helps research and allows for quick and easy feedback from supervisors“. About 95% of the students agree that there will be faster communication with lecturers and colleagues with the use of mobile devices. Still, other students speak about the ease and comfort of having all course materials in a little device. One student said in detail that “I am able to carry around all of my module materials which reduces the need for excess notes and textbooks to be carried around during lecture times . . . This means I can study anywhere my phone is, even when I am in a taxi“.
Students speak of the benefits of technology as making things easier, faster, better… easier communication, faster access to information, better and more comfortable studying etc. All these speak about doing work efficiently. But is this all technology should and can achieve? Shouldn’t technology be helping students to be more effective in their work?
Efficiency VS Effectiveness
Efficiency in the workplace is the time it takes to do something, while effectiveness is the level of results from the actions of employees and managers. Efficiency deals with achieving something with the least possible resources, in the least possible time, and surely over the years technology has helped us to achieve this. Mobile technology in particular gives us the privilege of sending out emails rather than typing out letters and posting them, even replying to emails on commute rather than having to wait till you get to the office, getting feedback from managers via a company chat service rather than having to wait to return to work before receiving it. All these only makes the individual efficient and not necessarily effective.
In education, lecturers can prepare PowerPoint presentations and upload to a Learning Management System rather than have to print a copy for each student. Students can read their course materials on their smartphones even while in bed, rather than have to go to the computer labs on the campus before having access to the materials. As explained previously, all these only speaks of an efficient use of technology!
This means that whereas technology use in education is increasing, several students and teachers only use technology to make them efficient and not necessarily effective. Technology provides a whole new opportunity for doing things in a different way. The powerful features of the mobile technology should be creatively used to make our work effective and to achieve high results. Lecturers must not simply add technology to make learning efficient, they must plan for the creative use of these technologies in the classroom.
5 Ways To Use Mobile technology In The Classroom
Technology is powerful and it can be used in several great ways to make teaching and learning powerful. What can be done and what cannot be done is limited, basically by the creativity of the user. So, the more creative and innovative we get, the more results we’ll see with using technology in class. However, I will provide a few examples just to help you get an idea of what an effective use will look like.
1. Use Of Audio Recording Feature
Students often require personal and quality feedback on the work they turn in. Lecturers can make use of the audio recording feature built into most smartphones to provide these personal and yet quality feedback to all students. Research has proven that students not just liked feedback given this way, but even preferred it.
2. Live Polling Tools
Live digital polling/quizzing tools can be used both as welcome and exit tickets in the classroom for formative assessment. Lecturers can use these tools (many of which are free) to determine what students already know and what should be concentrated upon. This can also provide insight into individual student strength and weakness and help give personalized instruction when needed.
3. Creating Of Videos
Rather than have students write a 2000 word essay after researching on a topic, where several of them would simply copy and paste paragraphs without necessarily understanding the content, lecturers could ask students to research and create a 5 minutes or less video or audio recording of what they had researched about.
4. Chat And Online Discussion Forums
Lecturers can exploit the group chat features of mobile devices to create an online discussion forum to encourage class participation on content topics, even outside the classroom. Students can chat and discuss (with or without the lecturer) while at home or over the weekend on a subject in class to increase understanding of concepts.
5. Use Of QR Codes
Quick response (QR) codes are another great way to use mobile technology in the classroom. Links to further resources, complex diagrams and images, solutions to tasks could be coded and made available to students.
There are several more ways by which both students and lecturers can creatively use mobile technology in the classroom. Again, technology is powerful and its benefits go beyond just making our work efficient. It can increase productivity and help us achieve greater results in our work, thereby making us effective.
Are you using mobile technology in the classroom in an effective way?
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