Considering the Smartphone Learner: developing innovation to investigate the opportunities for students and their interest

Ben Woodcock, Andrew Middleton, Anne Nortcliffe

Abstract


Ownership of mobile smartphones amongst the general consumer, professionals and students is growing exponentially. The potential for smartphones in education builds upon experience described in the extensive literature on mobile learning from the previous decade which suggests that the ubiquity, multi-functionality and connectivity of mobile devices offers a new and potentially powerful networked learning environment. This paper reports on a collaborative study conducted by an undergraduate student with the support of two members of academic staff. The research sought to establish the extent to which students are autonomously harnessing smartphone technology to support their learning and the nature of this use. Initial findings were explored through student interviews. The study found that students who own smartphones are largely unaware of their potential to support learning and, in general, do not install smartphone applications for that purpose. They are, however, interested in and open to the potential as they become familiar with the possibilities for a range purposes. The paper proposes that more consideration needs to be given to smartphones as platforms to support formal, informal and autonomous learner engagement. The study also reflects on its collaborative methodology and the challenges associated with academic innovation.

Keywords


mobile learning; smartphones; apps; innovation; pedagogy; student-centred learning

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