Enablers’ and barriers for Higher Education using mobile technology
According to JISC, during any change management process, barriers can appear in the
form of technical, procedural and cultural issues. “Technical and procedural barriers can be quantified and overcome through persistence whereas the cultural barriers can be multi-faceted and more problematic” (JISC. 2015).
Discovering enablers for Higher Education using mobile technology depends upon the context. JISC suggest that there might be a way of approaching the use of mobile devices within education that can reduce friction, based on findings from previously funded projects.
|Senior management||Cost||·Cost savings due to fewer PC clusters
·Improved targeting of information
|Senior management||Privacy||·Start off with admin side of spectrum
|Teaching staff||Distraction||· Classroom management (further education)
·Debate, backchannel and peer support (higher education)
|Teaching staff||Workload||·Explore subject-based ways to engage staff
·Use workshops to demonstrate how ‘mobile first’ can lead to better user outcomes
|IT staff||Compatibility/security||·Target key staff (eg director of IT services)
·Buy-in through finding solution to specified problem
|IT staff||Functionality||·Focus on lowest-common denominator
·Consider two-tier approach (basic and advanced)
|Learners||Disruption to personal life||·Set guidelines for staff on engagement
· Make policies opt-in whilst explaining benefits
|Learners||Unfamiliarity||·Don’t assume students ‘digital natives’ – run workshops for learners
·Consider making mobile learning part of induction activities
According to research by Unesco, educators are getting close to capitalising on the full potential of mobile technology. Advances in technology and societal shifts are key factors to reduced resistance for using mobile devices within education. The number of successful projects incorporating mobile devices within teaching and learning serve as examples for large-scale initiatives (Unesco, 2013). The future of mobile learning: implications for policy makers and planners).
- Decreased social resistance
In recent years, public opinion surrounding mobile technologies in education was largely unenthusiastic (Shuler, 2009). As new models of mobile learning emerge, many institutions are promoting the use of mobile devices in education. As the proliferation of mobile devices increases, educators and learners are starting to become more familiar and comfortable with using such devices for a wide variety of purposes (Unesco, 2013). The future of mobile learning: implications for policy makers and planners). Over the next decade, resistance to mobile devices for learning is set to decrease (Unesco, 2013). Teachers, parents and students are growing more accustomed to using these devices in their daily lives.
- Successful learning models
Research projects and initiatives promoting and using mobile technology within education are demonstrating the potential of new teaching and learning practice (Deriquito and Domingo, 2012). Mobile technology enhancing teaching and learning is being increasing scaled and replicated throughout the world (Schurmann, 2012). Significant resources are being invested into leveraging how mobile technologies can enhance learning. As successful models appear, educators and policy-makers will have sound practice and procedure to draw from (Unesco, 2013).
- Economic incentives
Mobile technology for learning is becoming increasingly attractive for business. Mobile learning products and services generate US$3.4 billion in annual sales (Unesco, 2013). It is forecast that by 2020, global spending on education is expected to reach over US$7 billion (GSMA, 2011).
- Pressure on educational institutions
As Higher Education becomes increasingly competitive, institutions are under pressure to increase the quality of teaching and learning for an increasing number of students. For example, India has 1.2 million engineering students but only has institutional capacity to provide a high quality education to 50,000. The chasm between supply and demand for well-trained teachers is so vast, traditional models of education are under strain (Unesco, 2012a). At the same time, the cost of Higher Education is increasing at a rate that is not sustainable (Unesco, 2013). Technology, specifically mobile technology is seen a potential solution to providing low cost, high quality education on a large scale.
- The rise of online education and distance learning
Distance learning through mobile technology has the potential for Higher Education institutions to expand their reach without significantly increasing their costs. In the last five years, distance learning has dramatically increased in scope and scale (Unesco, 2013). The Khan Academy claims to have delivered more than 230 million online lessons through it 3,900 video lectures on YouTube (Khan Academy, 2013). Projects such as EdX, a joint partnership between MIT and Harvard University offer online classes for free, in a bid to boost educational opportunities worldwide (EdX, 2013). Many of these new online learning opportunities are being accessed through a mobile, and many are being developed for mobile devices in the first instance.
- New procurement and distribution channels.
Traditional education resources are extremely expensive to distribute and scale. Mobile technology potentially provide a convenient and efficient portal for distribution. Textbooks can be converted to any language and do not rely on traditional infrastructure and distribution channels to make their way to learners (Unesco, 2013).
Although there are significant opportunities for mobile technology within Higher Education, there are still considerable barriers to address. Many within the academic community still hold negative perceptions about mobile learning, these are reinforced by failures and limited examples of sustainable projects (Unesco, 2013).
- Negative perceptions of models of failure
Although attitudes are shifting towards the positive transformational potential for mobile technologies, many educators are still not convinced by the small scale and short lived funded projects they have witnessed or experienced within education. Some teachers and institutions have received negative experiences with mobile learning. Frequently, these experiences stem from inadequate preparation or poorly designed or inappropriate lesson integration, leading to the opinion that it does very little to enhance learning (Unesco, 2013). Often initiatives focus on the hardware, with a secondary thought how it will affect or compliment the learning.
- Censorship and privacy concerns
The success of mobile technology within education relies heavily on the principle that information is freely available. Censorship, by either governments or institutions has the potential to limit mobile learning opportunities (Unesco, 2013). Conversely, big Data and leaning analytics raise important issues around information ownership and privacy.
- Limited examples of sustainability and scale
Most mobile learning initiatives currently are based on short term or pilot projects. These projects inherently lack the capacity to reach large audiences or have the ability to be sustained over a long period of time (Unesco, 2013).