Mobile Learning in Higher Education

Mobile Learning in Higher Education

Lucretia M. Fraga (University of the Incarnate Word, USA) and Belinda Bustos Flores (The University of Texas at San Antonio, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-3949-0.ch007
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This qualitative research study determines if providing technology professional development augmented with consultative support to university faculty increases mobile learning opportunities in higher education. This study used interviews and syllabi from two faculty case study participants who attended technology professional development over the course of a year and also received consultative support. Results indicated the amount of time, rank, and experience teaching in higher education were factors that determined the likelihood of the case study participants to increase the number of mobile learning opportunities for their students. The cross-case comparison suggested the two case study participants share some of the same factors in determining their use of mobile devices for learning in higher education.
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University educators often see themselves as experts in the areas of learning and teaching. Particularly, as teacher educators, they are expected to assist teacher candidates develop and integrate knowledge and skills, such as Shulman’s (1986, 1987) pedagogical content knowledge, as well as to attain critical cultural teaching efficacy and practices to meet the needs of diverse learners (Flores, Sheets, & Clark, 2011). In essence, teacher educators recognize that teaching is a complex process that requires attention to the learner, the content, and the context. The role of teachers educators is confounded because not only must they engage in effective teaching practices; they must also model these practices for their teacher candidates.

With the advent of various technologies, there has been a call for the use of technology to support learning and instruction; even more specifically to prepare teachers in the effective use of technology (Mishra & Koehler, 2006; Koehler & Mishra, 2009). Specifically, for teacher educators, such organizations as the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (AACTE) have specific TPACK standards that call for teachers to be prepared to use technology effectively. Given this expectation, it is pressing that teacher educators become experts in the area of TPACK. According to Mishra and Koehler (2006):

TPACK is the basis of good teaching with technology and requires an understanding of the representation of concepts using technologies; pedagogical techniques that use technologies in constructive ways to teach content; knowledge of what makes concepts difficult or easy to learn and how technology can help address some of the problems that students face; knowledge of students’ prior knowledge and theories of epistemology; and knowledge of how technologies can be used to build on existing knowledge and to develop new epistemologies or strengthen old ones (p. 1029).

However, the attainment of TPACK has become a challenge for faculty in general because “newer technologies often disrupt the status quo, requiring teachers [faculty] to reconfigure not just their understanding but all three [pedagogy, content, and technology] components” (Mishra & Koehler, 2006. p. 1030).

With the ubiquitous presence of mobile technology in our daily lives, universities are realizing that many students are equipped with mobile devices. These devices can be used to support learning for the delivery of instruction, including using external apps in classrooms for producing and consuming information. Moreover, mobile technology has been explored as a potential for teaching and learning since the 2004 Horizon Report (Horizon Report, 2004) and the recent 2017 Horizon Report (Horizon Report, 2017) suggested the further improvement of digital literacy is an essential 21st century skill (Partnership for 21st Century Skills).

In the case of faculty who are technology pioneers, the use of mobile tools has become second nature; conversely, mobile technology has the potential to challenge faculty who are not as technologically savvy (Wang, Wu, & Wang, 2009). We would suggest the same is true for faculty who are teacher educators, who have not necessarily used mobile technology within their practices as former teachers or as current teacher educators. Specifically, in this chapter, we explore how teacher educators acquire the knowledge and skills to provide opportunities to use mobile devices as a tool for learning, teaching, and more importantly as a means to demonstrate effective practices in the use of mobile technology to teacher candidates.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Levels of Teaching Innovation (LoTi): The LoTi is a framework developed by Dr. Christopher Moersch (1995) to measure the intersection between teaching, evaluation and technology resources that engage in the use of 21 st century skills that include critical thinking and problem solving. The framework supports teachers in understanding their own level and moving through each level to achieve Level 6 – Refinement.

Professional Development: Whole group meetings scheduled once a month in which an expert in the use of various technology tools came to teach participants how to implement and integrate in their own courses.

Case Study: Qualitative studies often use a case study approach to explore phenomena with one or more individuals and use a variety of data collection procedures over time (Creswell, 2009 AU13: The in-text citation "Creswell, 2009" is not in the reference list. Please correct the citation, add the reference to the list, or delete the citation. ; Punch, 2009 ). Because of the dynamic data, Yin (2009) suggested that case studies offer the “how” and “why” to complement research studies and due to the amount of time and data that is needed, should be carefully selected.

Mobile Learning Opportunities: Mobile learning opportunities are defined as opportunities that enable the use of mobile devices for learning from a university setting. Learners are able to create their own learning “anytime, anywhere” in isolation ( Cavus & Ibrahim, 2009 ; Wagner & Wilson, 2005 ) and in social collaborative settings.

Mobile Learning: Mobile learning is defined as learning that takes place “anytime, anywhere with a mobile device” ( Wagner & Wilson, 2005 ). The use of mobile devices facilitates this learning.

Documents Review: The use of reviewing documents such as letters, journals and notes are used in qualitative research. Punch (2009) explained that reviewing documents allows the researcher to gain greater insight for the study.

Higher Education: A collegiate institution that provides a level of education to award academic degrees and certifications.

Consultative Support: Individualized support provided to tenure/tenure track faculty to support the enrichment of technology skills for the implementation and integration of mobile learning opportunities.

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