Investigating the Use of Mobile Devices in Schools: A Case of the Ghanaian Senior High Schools

Investigating the Use of Mobile Devices in Schools: A Case of the Ghanaian Senior High Schools

Emmanuel Awuni Kolog (University of Eastern Finland, Finland), Samuel Nana Adekson Tweneboah (University of Oulu, Finland), Samuel Nii Odoi Devine (Presbyterian University College, Ghana) and Anthony Kuffour Adusei (Ghana Technology University College, Ghana)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-4029-8.ch005

Abstract

This chapter describes how today's technology has provided flexibility for teachers and students to engage in academic discourse irrespective of the location. However, there is an ongoing debate regarding the influence of mobile devices on students' academic engagement and performance. Following this debate, these authors empirically investigate the use of mobile device and its impact on teaching and learning in Ghana. Therefore, students, teachers and Ghana Education Service staff were selected to respond to a questionnaire with a follow up interview. After that, the authors analysed the content of the collected data using mixed research method. The results show that students are disallowed to use mobile devices while in school. However, the participants believe that mobile devices are useful for teaching and learning, especially for mobile learning. In line with the participants' perception of the use of mobile devices in schools, this chapter recommends that the government and other stakeholders of education in Ghana allow students to use mobile devices under restricted and regulated conditions.
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Introduction

Today’s technology has provided flexibilities for teachers and students to engage in academic discourse irrespective of the location (Darling-Hammond et al., 2014). While in Africa some countries have accepted to allow students to use mobile devices in schools for learning, others are reluctant to allow students to use mobile devices while residing in their school premises. This is because many scholars and stakeholders of education hold different perspectives on the issue of allowing students to use mobile devices in schools. For several years, this has been the subject of debate without much empirical studies to ascertain the rationale of this decision, as to whether the decision of disallowing the use of mobile devices by students is merited. The ongoing debate on this subject is centred on whether the use of mobile device usage in school influences students’ academic engagement and performance. Following this debate, these authors empirically investigate the use of mobile devices in the senior high schools (SHSs) of Ghana.

The senior high schools in Ghana are predominantly a boarding school system where students are housed in a restricted environment over a period of time until they pass out as graduates. The authors of this chapter are aware that students who are found with mobile devices in schools are punished. This, in effect, is a challenge towards the adoption of mobile learning in the senior high school sector. The situation, as it is, is divergent to Ghana’s 2003 policy on Information and communication technology (ICT) for Accelerated Development and Ministry of Education’s ICT in Education Policy (2008) which are both geared towards integrating ICTs into teaching and learning in schools. By observation, the policies are well intended and suggest the use of ubiquitous technologies such as personal computers and mobile phones in the curriculum, given that mobile devices are well adopted in most parts of the world to provide flexibilities in teaching and learning through mobile learning platforms. For instance, Squire and Jan (2007) used game-based approach in a classroom setting to illustrate how mobile technologies afford learners’ unique ability to construct scientific arguments in the wild. Generally, mobile devices are useful for easy communication and searching for information, and this can be used to enhance classroom learning (Sung et al., 2016). To the best of our knowledge, there is no empirical research that has been conducted to ascertain the reason for disallowing students to use mobile devices while at school, though Grimus and Ebner (2016) investigated how mobile devices could trigger creativity and initiate shifts in the senior high schools in Ghana.

In Ghana, the SHS education is categorised into two systems: boarding and day school. The ‘boarding’ school system is residential where students are provided with accommodation for a stipulated period of time to conduct their studies. Teachers and other non-teaching staff are mostly resident in the school premises, where the staff ensures that rules and regulations of the school are enforced and obeyed. The ‘day’ school system is non-residential, hence students commute to and from the school on daily basis. Since the ‘day’ students are not resident on school campus, certain rules and regulations are not applied to them (Kolog et al., 2014). For instance, the “day” students are not restricted to stay in the confines of the school premises.

Over the years, the Ghanaian educational system has seen some improvement with attempts being made to integrate ICT in the teaching and learning process. Notable areas of concern regarding the integration of ICT in education are mainly for workload management, school administrative activities and teaching and learning processes. This integration process is fraught with numerous challenges, and as such, slows down the integration process (Kolog, 2017). For instance, the high cost of ICT tools/software is a major challenge for the schools to ensure smooth integration of ICT in the school activities. To achieve this aim, the Government of Ghana and other stakeholders of education need to assist the schools to overcome the challenges of ICT integration.

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