Mobile Cloud Services as Catalysts for Pedagogical Change

Mobile Cloud Services as Catalysts for Pedagogical Change

Thomas Cochrane (Te Puna Ako (Centre for Teaching and Learning Innovation), Unitec, New Zealand)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-0957-0.ch011


This chapter explores the potential of mobile cloud services to act as catalysts of pedagogical change in tertiary education. Mobile computing has emerged as a significant platform, with worldwide uptake dwarfing traditional desktop and laptop computing. According to the International Telecommunication Union (Acharya & Teltscher, 2010), at the end of 2010, 76% of the world’s population is now own mobile phones (116% in developed countries [by subscription], and 68% in developing countries), and mobile broadband subscriptions to the Internet (940 million) outnumbered fixed broadband connections (555 million). The advent of the iPhone, the iPad, and Android based smartphones have driven the explosion of mobile application development, numbering over 650,000 mobile apps across four main platforms (GSMArena, 2011; Perez, 2011), with many of these apps providing access and interaction with cloud services. Harnessing the potential of these two new computing behemoths within education is still at early stages of development and research. This chapter provides research-informed examples of the impact of mobile cloud services on teaching practice and learner experiences.
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Facilitating pedagogical change in higher education is often a difficult and slow process. As Herrington, Reeves and Oliver (2009) argue “Despite the considerable affordances provided by new technologies, the curriculum, delivery and pedagogies in higher education have arguably been placed in a straitjacket, as teachers struggle to create innovative and radical solutions to the problems that abound in the sector” (p. 3). However, Herrington et al (2009) go on to argue that “emerging and established technologies provide exciting opportunities for changing current forms of pedagogy” (p. 3). The researcher argues that the introduction of mobile cloud computing into a course can act as a catalyst for pedagogical change by disrupting existing power relationships within the teaching and learning environment, creating a foundation for facilitating student-generated content and student-generated contexts. Thus a move from pedagogy (lecturer-directed) to heutagogy (student-directed or student-negotiated) can be facilitated. This is illustrated by critical reflection upon four years of action research on mobile Web 2.0 at Unitec, with a comparison of two case studies that have evidenced different levels of pedagogical change. Six critical success factors for mobile cloud computing integration have been identified throughout the twenty-five m-learning projects implemented at Unitec between 2007 and 2010 (Cochrane, 2010b, 2010c). The six critical success factors inform a critique of the two case studies used here as examples of the impact of mobile cloud services as catalysts for pedagogical change.

Figure 1 provides an outline of the growth and scope of the researcher’s m-learning projects between 2006 to 2010. The generic term Wireless Mobile Devices (WMDs) is used to cover the variety of smartphones, netbooks, and touch-screen devices used throughout these projects.

Figure 1.

WMD Projects 2006 to 2010


Evidence of pedagogical change 2006 to 2010 has been seen in a shift from initial mobile Web 2.0 projects based in the final year of a course to subsequent projects that aim at course integration across entire programs and include elements of international collaboration between groups of students and lecturers across the globe. The use of mobile cloud services has enabled the development of student eportfolios that bridge the classroom and informal learning environments, providing communication and collaboration across time-zones and distance, and providing rich tools for student-negotiated projects and student-negotiated learning outcomes (Cochrane & Flitta, 2011; Cochrane & Rhodes, 2011).

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