Mobile Learnings From a Chinese International High School

Mobile Learnings From a Chinese International High School

Lucy Emerson Haagen (Fazheng International Education Center, USA) and Wusi Fan (Duke University, USA)
Copyright: © 2018 |Pages: 27
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-2924-8.ch008
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Abstract

This chapter will describe the solutions developed and lessons learned by a team of Chinese and American teachers charged with designing, piloting, and evaluating mobile learning at an international high school for Chinese students. The approach was guided by the Technology Acceptance Model, a framework used to evaluate the “stickiness” of a new technology. At the core is the notion that technology acceptance is determined by perceptions of usefulness and ease of use. To address usefulness, a schoolwide assessment was conducted to identify salient learning problems and needs, then narrowing those problems/needs to those most amenable to mobile learning, developing and field testing targeted solutions, and finally evaluating perceptions of these solutions' actual usefulness. In parallel, teachers and students were encouraged to experiment. Out of this “let many flowers bloom” environment emerged solutions to unexpected problems and windows to unanticipated opportunity.
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Introduction

This chapter presents a case study of one Chinese high school’s experience introducing mobile learning. Several salient themes emerge, most notably that educational reform – tech-assisted or otherwise – succeeds only when the progressive drive to globalize is tempered by acceptance of the opposing force of deeply rooted cultural and political norms. Thus, while China’s 13th 5-year plan calls for innovating of teaching to meet world standards and the digitalization of traditional media, it also calls for the “cleaning up” of cyberspace and a focus on “culture building” (Xinhua, 2015). This dynamic tension between global aspirations and national norms is particularly evident in Beijing Royal School (BRS), an international school serving Chinese students. A predominantly western curriculum prepares students for selective universities in North America and Europe in classrooms equipped with the latest Apple and IBM technologies.

Less obvious but equally powerful in shaping teaching and learning, are three decidedly Chinese realities: a respect for the gifted teacher that goes back as far as Confucius, a meritocratic ideal in which examinations serve as the gate-keepers to opportunity, and a political system that values social cohesion over individual self-expression. As a result, like foreign species introduced into new environments, only those technologies and pedagogies capable of adaptation will flourish. Thus, our case study is the story of technological transplantation, adaptation and metamorphosis through a dynamic process both deliberate and serendipitous.

The chapter will describe the problems encountered, solutions developed, and lessons learned by a team of Chinese and American teachers charged with designing, piloting, evaluating, and redesigning mobile learning enhancements to a high school curriculum. The chapter will relate how the Technology Acceptance Model (TAM), a framework used to predict the “stickiness” of a new technology introduction, informed program planning, and evaluation. TAM proposes that technology acceptance is determined by perceptions of usefulness and ease of use. To address usefulness, the team conducted a schoolwide needs assessment, then narrowed identified needs to those most amenable to being addressed through mobile learning solutions. In parallel to this controlled pilot, we encouraged teachers and students to experiment. Out of this “let a hundred flowers bloom” environment emerged solutions to unexpected problems and windows to unanticipated opportunity that continue to guide the school’s mobile learning journey.

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