Exploring the Use of Mobile Devices to Support Teacher Education

Exploring the Use of Mobile Devices to Support Teacher Education

Jocelyn Wishart (University of Bristol, UK)
Copyright: © 2015 |Pages: 13
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-8239-9.ch039
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Early research on personal digital assistants (PDAs), forerunners of today's Smartphones, shows they have the potential to support pre-service teachers' learning and teaching on placement in schools. This article reports results from three such projects conducted with small groups of graduate student teachers in the UK which indicate that handheld devices are particularly supportive of management of learning and teaching and of building knowledge across contexts. However, mobile phones are viewed in schools as disruptive devices and it became apparent that social pressures on trainees using devices that are, in most schools, banned to pupils were impacting negatively on their use of the technology to support their learning. It is therefore argued that, whilst schools are mostly viewed as learning organisations that support staff professional development, in the case of emerging technologies, this isn't always the case and we need to do more to enable the realisation of these benefits of using mobile devices to support initial teacher education.
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Current Scientific Knowledge In Using Mobile Phones For Teacher Education

Pre-service teachers (initial teacher trainees) in the UK are more than likely to be university or college students dividing their time between studying more theoretically in higher education institutions and more practically on work placement in schools. Thus a considerable part of their learning (current UK government regulations require at least two-thirds of the national one year postgraduate teacher training programme to be based in schools) takes place in the workplace context. Benefits to workplace learning from giving university and college students access to internet enabled PDAs or Smartphones had been identified in the early 2000s by both the EU funded, global Mobilearn project (see http://www.mobilearn.org/) and the UK’s Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC). The JISC review of innovative practice with e-learning in further and higher education (JISC, 2005) suggested that the portability, any time, any place connectivity and immediacy of communication of mobile devices were key to their success. For example, having PDAs was seen to enable flexible and timely access to the university’s e-learning resources and immediacy of communication through voice call, texting or email, all of which were reported to lead to empowerment of and more effective management of learning (especially in dispersed communities such as those found in initial teacher education).

A more theoretical approach arose out of the Mobilearn project which involved 24 partners from Europe, Israel, Switzerland, USA and Australia in exploring context-sensitive approaches to informal, problem-based and workplace learning. This was one of the earliest mobile learning projects to involve Professor Mike Sharples (Sharples, 2002) now with the Open University, UK. Other pioneers in the field include Professor Agnes Kukulska-Hulme, also of the Open University and Professor John Traxler of Wolverhampton University who together edited the first handbook of mobile learning (Kukulska-Hulme & Traxler, 2005). At the time Professor Sharples was with University of Birmingham and he and his colleagues: Laura Naismith, Peter Lonsdale and Giasemi Vavoula’s contributions to this project led them being asked to produce a review of the then current state of mobile learning research for Futurelab (Naismith et al, 2004). Many of the above scholars are still leaders in the topic of mobile learning. In this early review, they classified effective mobile learning activities (including those conducted with children and the general public as well as university and college students) by their underpinning ethos. Four of the resulting categories are linked to aspects of learning theory:

Key Terms in this Chapter

Mobile Learning: Using mobile technologies to enable learning opportunities in different locations and contexts.

Socio-Cultural: Relating to both social and cultural matters.

Handhelds: Portable, mobile devices held in the hand.

Teacher Education / Teacher Training: Programme of study required to be followed before qualification as a teacher.

PDA: Personal digital assistant, a forerunner of today's Smartphones.

Science Education: Teaching and learning of the natural and physical sciences.

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