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Mobile phones for learning

31 May 2010 Staff PD
by

Nathan Walsh

on 7 November 2010

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Transcript of Mobile phones for learning

The learners: 28 Year Nine boys (13-14 year olds) in my Health class at Christchurch Boys' high School

The context: Year Nine Health Smoking research activity

Students were given two hours per week of class time in the computer room. One hour per week was in class gathering information from me as a teacher or watching/participating in experiments. How can I use student's mobile phones in my classroom to enhance engagement and achievement? What I did: Year Nine Health smoking research activity.

Previously this research activity has involved students listening in class to me giving them information about
smoking. They would then complete workbook activities around short and long term effects of smoking,
answer questions on how the media tries to prevent people from smoking and finally conduct a three person interview to examine people's thoughts on smoking.

The new assignment was the same in content, however presentation and information gathering was quite different.

The new assignment;
Student Instructions: (abbreviated)
You will work in pairs to create an anti smoking eportfolio hosted on glogster.edu.

What your eportfolio contains is entirely up to you, but you must record evidence of your understanding
via using the internet AND your mobile phone. Use these two tools to obtain text, pictures, video clips or
audio files and more to be uploaded to your eportfolio.

The minimum requirement for your anti-smoking eportfolio is that it must contain the following:

Short and long term effects of smoking.
A three person interview
How the New Zealand and international media attempts to stop people from smoking.
A skit or play involving classmates about the negative aspects of smoking. Examples of student work What the students said: (Five randomly selected comments)
What was the best thing about using your mobile phone to create an electronic portfolio?

"It took a different approach to normally a boring topic and made it enjoyable"

"getting to use our creative spark to make individual poster about how we think about smoking"

"It was a new exsperience to me usinng my ph in class and it was fun trying out he new web site"

"it was fun , interactive and you didnt have to listen to the teacher all day"

'it was fun and interactive, liked using my phone"

All comments summarisied by Wordle:

What the students said:
What was the worst thing about using your mobile phone to create an electronic portfolio?
(5 randomly selected comments)

"it was confusing at times"

"Finding the info for the glog and getting the videos"

"Downloading the videos off the phones wouldn't work"

"it isn realy hard to post videos on the glog"

"Getting videos on the website"

All responses summarised by wordle.com: My Observations in the class/computer room;
Students very much engaged in class
Liked the idea of using their mobile phone in class
Liked glogster.edu electronic portfolio and this way of presenting information
Having great difficulty getting their video clips and pictures from their mobile phone to their glogster.edu electronic portfolio. Student performance:
Class results in Term Two doing paper based smoking research assignment:
Not Achieved: 2
Achieved: 0
Merit: 8
Excellence: 19

Class results in Term Three using mobile phones as an information gathering tool for an electronic portfolio:
Not Achieved: 7
Achieved: 14
Merit: 4
Excellence: 4 My thoughts and opinions from the Study:
Student engagement and interest was high for learning via using their mobile phone and uploading to the electronic portfolio. This supported most of the literature findings. Students valued the opportunity to use their mobile phone to gather information. However the technological difficulties of transferring the video, picture or voice files from student phones to the electronic portfolio site was causing great difficulty for the students.

Overall student performance results were lower than when being assessed via more traditional pen and paper learning. This was probably due to technical difficulties rather than a lack of student effort. It may also be due to students being unfamiliar with using their mobile phones for learning.

The learning was meaningful. Students were active, working intentionally and working together in a most authentic manner. However, the difficulties with uploading the files from the phone to the portfolio didn't fully allow the students to be constructive. Jonassen (2003)

Mobile phones can definetly be used as an effective tool for learning. Video cameras on phones are a very effective method of gathering information. References:
Cochrane, T. Bateman, R. (2008) Engaging Students with Mobile Web2.0. Paper Presentation. Teaching and Learning Conference, Eastern Institute of Technology, Hawkes Bay Jonassen, D. H. (2003). Learning to solve problems with Technology. Chapter 1: What is Meaningful Learning? Upper Saddle River: Merrill Prentice Hall. Why?
To discover whether modern mobile phones had the capacity to be genuine tools for learning.
To examine whether academic achievement would be higher in a particular assessment if it was based around gathering information via mobile phones and uploading to computers vs the more traditional based assessment.
To observe whether the students would be more engaged in class if they were using mobile phones and computers vs traditional face to face teaching.
To challenge myself to teach in a new way, rather than the usual "chalk and talk. "


The Literature is very positive toward using mobile phones for learning. Many studies
state that mobile phone learning is engaging, valuable and meaningful. However, many
studies concede that mobile phone learning is in it's infancy and more in depth studies
are necessary to fully understand the value of mobile phone learning.








Planning impact;
I knew that not all students in the class would have mobile phones. Therefore I asked all students to work in pairs.
Mobile phones are not allowed in class at my school. I asked the Deputy Head Master for an exception to this rule for my research project.
I decided to use Glogster.edu as my eportfolio platform for displaying the student work. I hadn’t used this before but felt confident that I knew the basics and the students working in pairs would be able to use it effectively, without me needing to be an expert.
“Rather than trying to prise young people from their mobile devices, schools should consider that building on these technologies may well be a way to keep young people interested in learning. To achieve this, teachers will need to think of them as learning tools.” Hartnell-Young (2005). "Learning takes place through listening, observing, imitating, questioning, reflecting, trying, estimating, predicting, what if’ing and practising, and all of these can be done with mobile phones." Prensky (2004). "mLearning also gives students the freedom to investigate as they please, investigating what they find interesting which creates a feeling of independence and empowerment. " Granic Cukusic & Walker. (2009). "Students particularly valued the ability to capture and record ideas and content using the smartphones multimedia capabilities." Cochrane & Bateman (2008). Hartnell-Young, E. (2005). What's in a name? whay we can't learn with mobile phones. Professional Educator, 4(3), 18-21. Prensky, M. (2004). What can you learn from a cell phone? Retrieved 22 October, 2010 from http://www.marcprensky.com/writing/Prensky-What_Can_You_Learn_From_a_Cell_Phone-FINAL.pdf Granic, A, Cukusic, M, & Walker, R. (2009). Mlearning in a Europe-wide network of schools. Educational Media International, 46(3), 167-184. The Future:
The Deputy Head Master has agreed to alter the wording in the school diary for next year to state that mobile phones may not be used in class - unless specifically for learning.

Next time I would look to use a different eportfolio site rather than glogster.edu.com. Possibly mahara.com, or moodle.com.

As I have found with many aspects of using technology with my teaching - it is quite 'risky' to be totally reliant on technology in order for teaching to be effective. This is probably why many teachers at my school are reluctant to use new digital technologies with their teaching. However, taking the risk of teaching in this manner has been good for my professional development. The results of this action research provided many benefits for the students. Students were more engaged in class, acted innovatively and collaborated well with others. Perhaps most importantly however, was that students worked independently as gathers of information rather than listening to it coming straight from the teacher. Curriculum connection:
Value focus: Innovation, inquiry, curiosity.
Key Competencies: Thinking, using language, symbols and texts, managing self, relating to others, participating and contributing.
Achievement Objective: Students will demonstrate an understanding of how smoking can influence the health of individuals, groups and society.
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