The group enjoyed these presentations by Jon Trinder (1.3Mb) and Andy Ramsden (.9Mb) before brainstorming what is driving change with respect to the use of mobile devices for teaching and learning in HE.
We chose the following as the drivers that will have both the highest impact upon institutions and also the highest impact upon learning:
Using pairs of drivers as axes (moving from low to high in each case ) on which to pin thinking we came up with three likely scenarios:
The consideration of increased ‘Choice and personalisation’ vs ‘Funding models’ gave us two clear possible scenarios. One where there were ‘free to student’ mobile devices at an increased cost to the University. This would clearly lead to good integration with University systems and support and is the model employed by some smaller US Universities who have issued students with a particular type of handheld. However, this does not acknowledge that students come to University with a wide variety of mobile devices and that research shows that ownership and familiarity are key to developing technological skills that support learning. The group felt that no matter how much the University tried, students would continue to appropriate their own devices for learning. Having your own device encourages collaboration and will lead to more potential for innovation. We will see more and different kinds of ‘mashups’ and need to note the potential implications for security. This latter scenario was thought to be much more realistic and characteristic of a future in HE five years hence.
The consideration of increased ‘Formative assessment and feedback’ vs more ‘Choice and personalisation’ suggested a scenario where mobile devices would be used not only as audience response systems, using SMS management systems, but for feedback from student to tutor/lecturer throughout a unit or module. Where we now see a few lecturers receiving feedback in lectures via text, this will become common and University systems will develop to support a wide variety of mobile devices. It appears likely, as we are only considering five years hence, that text messaging will remain the lowest common denominator and be most successful for simple communications. However, in time increased levels of personalisation and effective integration of this wide level of user choice about devices, platforms and tools with university systems will mean both students and staff will be able to determine how they give and receive feedback. Opening feedback system up to the types of devices students have in their pockets will overcome some of the obstacles to the students engaging with them.
The consideration of ‘Student practice in formal and informal learning’ vs ‘Formative assessment and feedback’ produced four relevant scenarios. Two of these acknowledged the increasing likelihood of students’ use of mobile devices breaking barriers between formal education and informal learning, as is now being seen in schools.
In the first, a high level of formative assessment and more use of informal learning was linked to i) the introduction of ePortfolios and multimedia records of achievement and ii) new ways of assessing that focus on the process as captured by the mobile device, rather than the end product.
In the second, a low level of formative assessment will mean that students will tap into their own networks for peer support and feedback. They will do that with mobile devices accessing social networking and chat sites. Staff in HE would need to endorse this activity and, rather than see it as a kind of threat to formal teaching and learning activities, encourage it and show students where the benefits and problems might lie.
Lastly, a constant theme that reoccurred throughout the day was the use of SMS by Universities as information management systems in educational support and administration for students. Our research shows that so long as the texts received are relevant, arrive at social times of day and not too often, students are appreciative and opt-in. Whilst this wasn’t developed as a scenario it is clear that students find this sufficiently useful for it to be around, probably universally, in five year’s time.