April 25, 2014

Why Canadians lag in mobile learning

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Steinberg, S. (2012) Mobilicity research suggests smartphones play increasing role in education Mobilicity Newsroom, August 9

A survey conducted for the Canadian mobile phone company, Mobilicity found that

  • 66 per cent of Canadians would use a mobile phone to conduct online research anywhere, anytime;
  • 46 per cent would download mobile apps to help stay organized;
  • 41 per cent would record lectures and tutorial sessions; and
  • 42 per cent would coordinate school and social activities if they were a student.
  • the majority of Canadians (56 per cent) think that mobile phones are an invaluable tool for students.

However, the survey also found that Canadians consider themselves poor mobile consumers:

  • 19 per cent of Canadian mobile phone users would give themselves a near-failing ‘D’ grade saying they think they are “paying too much”.
  • only 17 per cent of Canadians give themselves an ‘A’ grade for having done their homework and having the best plan.

Mobilicity suggest the following uses for mobile learning:

  • Do real-time research at school in the palm of their hand
  • Record lectures and tutorial sessions to avoid missing key study points
  • Collaborate on group projects virtually using cloud-based applications, such as Dropbox and Google Docs
  • Photograph instructor notes or drawings for reference and/or transcription
  • Tweet peers using a class #hashtag to create a discussion and clarify any confusion with the professor.

Comment

This is a survey by a new Canadian mobile company seeking to break into a market dominated by three large telcos (Bell, Rogers, Telus). Canadians have traditionally paid high mobile tariffs, especially for data, compared with most OECD countries. Mobilicity’s survey co-incidentally (!) comes just after they have announced a $25 a month unlimited data, talk and text plan that undercuts most plans currently available. Obviously, the cheaper mobile phone costs are, the more likely students are to use them.

However, another reason may also be that most institutions are not designing for mobile learning. Mobilicity itself assumes that mobiles will reinforce classroom teaching, rather than looking at designing courses in such a way that tools such as smartphones and tablets can be used to do learning outside the classroom, through project work, online research, and digital data collection (photos, videos, audio).

So good for Mobilicity in helping bring down costs; now the baton passes to us as educational designers.

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