Augmenting the Use of Mobile Devices in Language Classrooms

Augmenting the Use of Mobile Devices in Language Classrooms

Revathi Viswanathan (B.S. Abdur Rahman University, India)
DOI: 10.4018/ijcallt.2012040104
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Abstract

Do students use varied types of technological devices for enhancing learning? If not, how can educators motivate students to use them within or outside the classroom? How can teachers facilitate mobile learning in a traditional classroom? With the changing trends in the field of language teaching and the introduction of various technologies, these questions must be addressed for enhancing learning, particularly among tertiary level students. To promote language learning using mobile devices, teachers must first learn the special features of various mobile devices that could be used for teaching language skills to students. This article highlights the possibility of using some of the devices for teaching communication skills through a description of the devices and a pilot study conducted with tertiary level students. It further indicates effective ways of enhancing the concept of mobile learning.
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Background

Mobile learning, a relatively new concept, is becoming popular among teachers and learners. It refers to learning with the help of mobile or handheld devices such as mobile phones, iPods, iPads, Smart phones, mp3 players, PDA systems, and notepads (Harriman, 2011). According to Brink (2011), mobile learning is the latest trend in learning. Robson (2003) quotes Quinn (2000) to define mobile learning as “the intersection of mobile computing and e-learning: accessible resources wherever you are, strong search capabilities, rich interaction, powerful support for effective learning, and performance-based assessment. E-Learning is independent of location in time or space” (p. 1).

Tracing the evolution of mobile devices that go hand-in-hand with networking systems from 1G to 4G helps to clarify the impact of various devices on learning. Peter (2010), in his series of articles on ‘Mobile Phones & Devices,’ elaborates on the networking system. Considering the various devices introduced for domestic and commercial usage, it dates back to 1973 when Cooper first used a handheld mobile phone and that led to the launch of the 1G cellular network in Japan. This network helped users to have an ‘international roaming’ facility. However, in this cellular system microelectronics and advanced integrated circuits were not available. The introduction of 2G mobile phones promoted the use of ‘digital’ communication methods, which in turn brought down the cost of the devices. The use of higher radio frequencies and digital connections encouraged more subscribers to use the network with lower radio transmission powers. The short message service (SMS) was introduced in 1993 and that paved the way for delivering comprehensive data services. However, 2.5G technologies, which were introduced some time later, helped users to send and receive e-mails and surf the Internet. It further helped to deliver ‘Wireless Application Protocol’ services and multimedia messaging services. It is worthwhile to mention that 2.5G phones were considered to be the first generation of Smart phones, which serve as effective handheld personal computers. With the introduction of 2.5G phones, the first Blackberry was launched in 2002. However, in 2001 the first 3G networks also commenced commercial deployment, which increased the efficiency and speed of data transfer from cellular to other devices.

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