Schools going mobile: A study of the adoption of mobile handheld technologies in Western Australian independent schools
Keywords:mobile handheld technologies, m-learning, iPad, iPod Touch, iPhone, schools, professional development, community of practice
This paper reports on the adoption of mobile handheld technologies in ten Western Australian independent schools, based on interviews with staff conducted in 2011. iPads were the most popular device, followed by iPod Touches and iPhones. Class sets were common at lower levels, with 1:1 models becoming increasingly common at higher levels. Mobile learning, or m-learning, was still at an experimental stage in most schools, but common themes were already emerging around the need to integrate mobile devices into a broader learning ecology. Key discussions focused on their role in promoting consumption or production, collaboration or personalisation, and creating seamless learning spaces. Used for both organisational and pedagogical purposes, mobile devices were seen as enhancing student motivation, with empirical evidence of improved student learning also emerging in small-scale studies conducted by two schools. Challenges included the need to carefully manage the technology, ethical issues in its use, and staff roles in its deployment. Pedagogically grounded and adequately contextualised professional development (PD) was seen as vital for time-poor staff, while a desire to set up a professional community of practice was widely expressed. All the schools surveyed planned to extend their use of mobile handheld technologies in the future.
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