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Mobile Learning in K-12 Education
This page is a supplement to Mark Pegrum & Grace Oakley's paper entitled
Mobile Learning in K-12 Education: Teachers' Technological, Pedagogical and Organisational Considerations
, delivered at MobiLearn Asia, Singapore, 24-26 October 2012.
This paper reports on research into the use of mobile handheld technologies throughout the schooling system – from kindergarten through primary to secondary level – based on teacher surveys and interviews, as well as classroom observations, conducted in Perth, Western Australia, over the past 18 months. While there are clear differences in the use of mobile devices at different levels, a surprisingly large number of common themes have emerged. Many centre around binary considerations regarding the technology itself, its pedagogical uses, and the organisation of the classroom. In most cases, however, teachers are not faced with an either/or decision, but with a continuum of possible choices.
We will structure our exploration of the educational uses of mobile handheld technologies, most notably iPads and iPod Touches, around these binary considerations. Firstly, we will explore the technology itself, beginning with a focus on the hardware and the use of
analogue vs digital tools
, continuing with a focus on the software in the form of
free vs proprietary tools,
and then moving to a broader focus on
technology vs pedagogy.
Secondly, we will turn to pedagogy itself, considering
traditional vs contemporary pedagogical approaches,
consumption vs production
and, from the point of view of teacher professional development,
teachers as learners vs teachers as experts.
Thirdly, we will consider the dynamics of technology usage, exploring
collaborative use vs personalised use, formal vs informal learning spaces,
lower vs higher year levels
. Thus, we will conclude our discussion of common themes emerging at all levels of the schooling system with some remarks on the differences between levels. This will lead into a brief account of two school case studies which illustrate how the general considerations come into play in two specific, and very different, educational contexts.
Nine Considerations for Mobile Technology Use
The nine considerations and associated recommendations which are at the core of the paper were initially derived from Phase 1 of the study
Exploring the Pedagogical Applications of Mobile Technologies for Teaching Literacy
, conducted in Western Australia in 2011-2012. They were then refined and elaborated in light of additional insights which emerged in Phase 2 of the same study. These considerations and recommendations reflect the researchers' and teachers' views of the current state of best practice with respect to using mobile handheld technologies, especially iPads and iPod Touches, in the classroom. The full report is available from
1: Consider analogue vs digital tools.
Use blends of analogue and digital technologies to achieve varying educational aims.
2: Consider free vs proprietary tools.
Explore both free and paid apps, seeking a pedagogically and financially effective combination.
Ensure that students use web-based services as well as native mobile apps to increase their exposure to a range of digital tools.
Establish a common database of useful apps and web services to be shared among a community of teachers.
3: Consider technology vs pedagogy.
Place pedagogy and content ahead of technology, ensuring that the selected technologies support the intended learning outcomes.
Integrate the use of mobile technologies into the wider learning ecology, so that they are not seen primarily as entertainment devices.
Capitalise on the engagement potential of mobile technologies to keep students on task – especially, although not exclusively, in contexts where there are behaviour management issues – thereby facilitating pedagogical aims and supporting student learning outcomes.
Capitalise on the benefits of mobile technologies, including relevant apps, to support students with special needs.
Use mobile technologies as a springboard for teaching students how to manage technology and use it appropriately for a range of purposes.
4: Consider traditional vs contemporary pedagogical approaches.
Consider whether, how and when mobile handheld technologies should be used to support traditional or contemporary pedagogical approaches.
Consider how mobile handheld technologies can be used to transform learning, moving it (further) in a social constructivist direction, rather than merely enhancing traditional or existing tasks.
5: Consider consumption vs production.
Use content transmission or behaviourist apps, where appropriate, to reinforce learning, but not to the exclusion of more production-oriented or creative activities.
Explore the use of generic apps to promote student creativity and higher-order thinking.
6: Consider teachers as learners vs teachers as experts.
Identify key leaders and teachers who will share enthusiasm for the use of mobile handheld devices, act as role models, and offer support to other staff.
Emphasise pedagogy ahead of technology, reminding teachers that technology complements – and does not in any way make redundant – their existing content and pedagogical knowledge, though it may require further development of pedagogical knowledge as they seek strategies for effectively integrating mobile devices into their classrooms.
Give teachers access to hardware and software with plenty of lead-in time before they start to use it with students.
Provide teachers with bracketed time for professional development, both formal and informal.
Offer targeted and contextualised professional development, if practical, with 1:1 support being supplied at the point of need.
Remind teachers that they do not necessarily have to be technological experts from the start, but can learn with and from students about new technologies.
Encourage teachers to join, and share ideas in, a sustainable community of practice.
7: Consider collaborative use vs personalised use.
At early childhood and primary levels, explore mobile handheld devices as shared tools for collaborative tasks (though individual tasks are still possible).
At middle and upper school levels, consider a 1:1 model of mobile handheld technology use (both for individual tasks, and for collaborative tasks where the collaboration occurs online).
In the medium to long term, consider a BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) or BYOT (Bring Your Own Technology) model, encouraging students to personalise their devices and their learning environments.
Whether using class sets or personal mobile devices, put in place an acceptable use policy, teach students about digital safety, digital privacy and digital reputation, and help them to develop digital citizenship skills.
Involve parents in their children’s education by holding information sessions about mobile technologies and their dangers, especially but not exclusively when a BYOD/BYOT model is employed.
8: Consider formal vs informal learning spaces.
At early childhood and primary levels, encourage students to use mobile handheld technologies outside regular classroom spaces.
At middle and upper school levels, encourage students to explore ‘seamless learning’ by integrating their learning across formal and informal spaces, including school and home.
Capitalise on the networking which is possible between staff, students and parents in virtual spaces accessed through mobile handheld devices.
9: Consider lower vs higher year levels.
At early childhood, primary and middle school levels, encourage directed-play and creative approaches to using mobile handheld technologies.
At middle and upper school levels, consider mobile handheld devices as a complement to, rather than a replacement for, laptop and desktop computers.
Consider e-textbooks, including those designed by teachers, as a replacement for hard copy textbooks.
Mobile education landscape report.
Johnson, L., Smith, R., Willis, H., Levine, A., & Haywood, K. (2011).
The 2011 Horizon Report
. Austin, TX: The New Media Consortium.
Koehler, M.J. (n.d.).
TPACK – Technological pedagogical and content knowledge.
Koehler, M.J., & Mishra, P. (2008). Introducing TPCK. In AACTE Committee on Innovation and Technology (Ed.),
Handbook of technological pedagogical content knowledge (TPCK) for educators
(pp.3-29). New York: Routledge.
Murray, O.T., & Olcese, N.R. (2011). Teaching and learning with iPads, ready or not?
Oakley, G., Pegrum, M., Faulkner, R., Striepe, M. (2012, Sept.).
Exploring the pedagogical applications of mobile technologies for teaching literacy.
Report for the Association of Independent Schools of Western Australia. Crawley, WA: Graduate School of Education, The University of Western Australia.
Puentedura, R.R. (2011, Dec. 8). A brief introduction to TPCK and SAMR.
Ruben R. Puentedura’s weblog.
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Sean MacEntee's photostream
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