The technological advantages provided by mobile technology are currently being explored in Higher Education with institutions investigating and implementing new ways of reaching students through their mobile devices (Rose, 2008). This paper describes a pilot study that was intended to capitalise on the culture of exploration in this exciting area, and also to try and capture good practice in doing so. It describes a small study that examined how ‘SmartPhones’ could be used with trainee teachers on placement in schools, to communicate with them, and to disseminate course information to them.
After setting up a BlackBoard© (BB) site for the trainees a review at a university session revealed that they did not find accessing the site convenient either from home or school but all had and used SmartPhones on a daily basis. A decision was then taken to utilise their mobile phones to replace the functions that would have been covered by the BB site. For the remainder of their course, the tutor used text and email to communicate with the trainees rather than posting announcements and resources on the BB site.
Trainees were questioned about the use of these mobile devices using surveys and a group interview at the end of the course. An initial quantitative analysis and qualitative analysis of this data using suggests that trainees strongly prefer being able to access course information and communicate with their tutor via their phone rather than through a VLE. The mobile technology provided a more convenient and accessible means to gain the information they needed, and because they could access course information when they wanted, rather than having to find a PC or laptop from which to log onto the VLE, they felt much more connected with their tutor and the other trainees who were placed in other schools geographically separated from them.
Rose, (2008) Switch that phone on! Extending higher education opportunities for the iPod generation at http://www.heacademy.ac.uk/search/search?qt=mobile+learning&sb=relevance
C6 – (EN03 and EN34) 14.20
Presentation: It’s easier to use my phone’