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Enhancing student learning through ubiquitous technologies – the case of UCT By Dick Ng’ambi, PhD Annette Lombe WSU E-learning Conference November 3-4,

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Presentation on theme: "Enhancing student learning through ubiquitous technologies – the case of UCT By Dick Ng’ambi, PhD Annette Lombe WSU E-learning Conference November 3-4,"— Presentation transcript:

1 Enhancing student learning through ubiquitous technologies – the case of UCT By Dick Ng’ambi, PhD Annette Lombe WSU E-learning Conference November 3-4, 2009

2 Overview Introduction Mobile landscape in SA context Global literature on m-learning Theoretical underpinning Current practices Web2.0 in SA context Educational rationale for m-learning in SA context UCT case study & Observations o DFAQ o Podcasting Recommendations / Conclusion

3 SA ICT Indicators SA ICT Indicators IndicatorPer 100 inhabitants Computers8.25 Fixed telephone lines8.91 Internet users8.43 Broadband Internet subscribers0.77 Mobile cellular subscriptions90.60 Radio sets 24.24 TV sets 19.50 % population covered by mobile signal 99.79 ITU website Note: These statistics focus on devices / tools and not on what they are used for

4 Mobile learning …learning on the move and learning in any location enabled by wireless technologies …people can use odd bits of time …computing to come to education instead of education going to the computer [education in right context] Focus is not on a device, but on a learner; a learner on a move or in non- fixed locations but enabled by handheld devices



7 Mobile landscape in SA context Access to mobile phones among high school students in Cape Town is high (Kreutzer, 2007) Most common mobile devices among varsity students ◦ Mobile phones ◦ MP3 players Why mobile phones? ◦ Cost; investing and maintaining ◦ Ease of use ◦ More robust

8 Global Literature on m-learning Global Literature on m-learning In both developed and developing countries, use of mobile technologies has been limited to social interaction Limited uses for educational purposes is reported Why m-learning? ◦ Access to content in new ways  Re-packaging content in different formats  Response to new forms of learning ◦ Communication infrastructure  Convergence of wireless networks, Web services and enterprise applications  Emphasis is on HOW computing and telephony devices SHARE and DISTRIBUTE content

9 Global Literature on m-learning ◦ Mobile phones connectivity vs non- connected devices  Desktop experience is extended through mobile learning (both connected / non-connected)  Leveraging classroom activity/ interaction  Devices with no connectivity have not proved popular or sufficiently useful (FutureLab Handbook, 2006)  MP3 players and iPods are used along side mobile phones.  Most mobile devices are not integrated into institutional networks  students and educators see no linkage between mobile devices and learning  Significant blurring of distinction between mobile phones and data-centric handheld devices e.g. PDAs (Becta, 2004)


11 Theoretical underpinning Mobile devices are both media as well as tools for human activity To have a medium view of mobile devices is to see them as being used for reaching understanding ◦ Examples: education and social networking uses To have a tool’s view of mobile devices is to see them as tools for human activity ◦ Example: carrying it for immediate access to a deluge of resources if needed, or in case of emergency

12 Medium view of technology Tools view of technology Mobile learning Communication to achieve understanding e.g. consultation, learning, socialization, etc Features / facilities of devices e.g. bluetooth, camera, MP3 player etc Communication outcomes / goals Empowerment & social inclusion

13 Current practices  There is a growing popularity of social media among students  Example: Peer to peer file sharing like DC++, Facebook, Hi5, MXit, MySpace  There is an increasing ownership of handheld devices by students  Example: mobile phones, MP3 players, iPods  The value is derived when the popularity of social media is used on handheld devices owned by students, anytime and anywhere  The educational potential lies in exploiting students’ social practices of using social media on own mobile devices to achieve a learning task oriented towards learning

14 Web2.0 in SA context Internet and Web-based technologies Access is THE issue ◦ Off campus access for most students is problematic (Czerniewicz & Brown, 2009) ◦ Of 159 1 st year ‘digital strangers’  Computer based technologies 58% never or hardly use email 71% never or hardly use internet for social purposes 52% no access to PC off campus 32% access through public facility/third party  All own mobile phones 72% use SMS often 34% use MXit 38% use mobile phone as only source of off campus ICT access RATHER THAN IGNORE THIS FACT, WE DECIDED TO EXPLOIT IT

15 Educational rationale for m-learning in SA Allow anywhere, anytime collaboration and learning ◦ Effects extend beyond the classroom into the general learning environment (Alexander, 2006) ◦ Provide access to learning resources as and when need arises Observed benefits (Hodgkinson-Williams & Ng'ambi, 2009) ◦ Enhance communication between lecturers and students ◦ Introduce anonymity, empowering shy students ◦ Improve course management ◦ Monitor student performance

16 UCT Case Study 1 Dynamic Frequently Asked Questions (DFAQ) Tool ◦ An anonymous consultation environment designed and developed by the Centre for Educational Technology, UCT ◦ Aimed at addressing segregated knowledge production in diverse classes ◦ DFAQ allows shy and less confident students to anonymously SMS questions into a shared knowledge space visible to the rest of the class ◦ Members of class respond to questions anonymously, and the educators watch the space and responds as seen fit ◦ Responses are automatically SMSed back to the questioner Users also SMS to DFAQ to retrieve latest course notice An educator can post a class notice to a virtual notice board via SMS


18 Cases were DFAQ is used UndergraduatePostgraduate Film & Media Information Systems Information Technology in Business Law Organizational Psychology Education Information Systems Information Technology & Production Management Organizational Psychology Health Sciences Non-academic Office of Discrimination & Harassment Office; anonymous facilitation of reporting of and advice/counseling on assault, rape & violence within the community Research Ethics Committee; anonymous advice seeking Hodgkinson-Williams & Ng'ambi, 2009

19 IS courses where DFAQ is used INF1002 Introduction to IS INF1003 Programming INF2009F System Dev A INF2008F Database Systems INF2011S System Dev B INF2010S Info & Comm Tech INF3003W Group Project INF3012S IT Applications INF3014F eCommerce INF4014W IS Honours Ng'ambi & Brown, 2009

20 Information Systems 1 st year Online questioning environmentObservations Cases were used ◦ 2004 INF1003;Programming 35 students ◦ 2005 INF1003;Programming 63 students ◦ 2006 INF1002F;Introduction to IS 610 students Why? ◦ Empower shy students to ask questions anonymously ◦ Create personal learning support for students ◦ Anonymity enables honest communication on curriculum, pedagogy and emotional confusion typical of 1 st year experience ◦ Online consultative environment enhances classroom learning ◦ Provides immediate feedback on how course is running, i.e., ongoing course evaluation ◦ Reveals students’ grasp of content through level questions and answers – lecturers learn Ng'ambi & Brown, 2009

21 Film & Media 1 st year Collaborative learning and preparation for exams Observations Creation of a virtual revision environment Students can retrieve announcements on demand by SMS Postings can be made by SMS or web Use of DFAQ during term time was minimal 25 postings over the semester; 75% of these were made during consolidation week No easy access to internet, tutors & friends during consolidation week Ng’ambi & Knaggs, 2008

22 UCT Case Study 2 Podcasting on mobile devices ◦ Students in large first year classes experience a personalised teaching experience through listening to podcasts on mobile devices ◦ Students who struggle to understand English and / or accents listen to lectures again to enhance their understanding of lecture content Postgraduate students use podcasts to scaffold reflective learning Students create podcasts as portfolios of work Podcasts uploaded to a Learning Management System (LMS) and students use Really Simple Syndication (RSS) to download to mobile devices

23 RSS feed to mobile devices

24 Educational uses of podcasting Lectures – for listening again or extension Supplementary learning resources Collaborative and active learning support Cultivation of confidence in a subject Instructions & guidance e.g. lab work Support for distance learners Feedback on assessments Reflections

25 Podcasting for effective learning Decide the pedagogical rationale and the driver Select the medium; audio only or video Choose convergence, i.e. how much the podcasts are integrated with other e-learning Choose authors and contributors to podcasts Decide on structure of podcasting; frequency & timing

26 Decide on reusability Choose length Select presentation style; interview, dialogue Decide on framework of content organization Select access system, via LMS or internet- based feeder service Edirisingha et al. 2008

27 Cases were podcasting is used UndergraduatePedagogy Information Systems Dept  2008-MP3 428 1 st year students (28 tutors) Lectures; theory/prac in lecture theatre  2009-MP4 608 1 st year students (44 tutors) Lectures; theory/prac in computer lab Podcasts in pedagogy loosely coupled Didactic teaching approach Learner choice and flexibility high

28 Cases were podcasting is used PostgraduatePedagogy Graduate School of Humanities; School of Education  2008 16 postgraduate students 8 week module (4-7PM Tues & Thurs)  2009 18 postgraduate students 1 week block release module (Mon-Sat) Podcasts in pedagogy tightly coupled Reflective learning teaching approach Learner choice and flexibility medium

29 Observations Chance that frequently accessed podcasts represent a topic of interest to students Chance that both student & educators may want to share these resources or recommend them Lecturers in SoE or IS cannot access these resources without being a member of a course site Potential of podcast reuse beyond a module Resources are not accessible to students outside the module Self ranking of podcasts by frequency of use

30 Recommendations 1 of 3 Designing tasks for learning while on the move requires both educators and instructional designers to focus on the medium possibilities of mobile devices Aligning pedagogical goals with affordances at medium view level that draws on existing device uses, reduces the learning curve and engages learners

31 Recommendations 2 of 3 Ensuring that none of the learners are excluded, use a tools view to determine type of devices that learners have ◦ Don’t develop learning tasks that requires an iPhone when learners don’t have the device or a wap application when only a handful of learners have wap-enabled phones ◦ NB:  For DFAQ case studies, all mobile phones could SMS so no student was excluded  In podcast case studies, learners had MP3 players

32 Design learning activities to combine the rigidity of lecture schedules, fixed desktops, learner mobility and ubiquitous technologies Leverage institutional LMS with popular social media so as to: ◦ Maximize use of tools ◦ Provides multiple ways of accessing content and social networking Value of using ubiquitous tools ◦ No additional costs in acquiring & training students to use new tools ◦ Ensures more equitable access to content Recommendations 3 of 3

33 Thank you Contact: Dr Dick Ng’ambi Centre for Educational Technology Email:

34 References Alexander, B. (2004). M-Learning: Emergent pedagogical and campus issues in the mobile environment. ECAR Research Bulletin, Boulder, Colorado, USA: Educause Centre for Applied Research. Becta (2004). Becta Home Page [Online] mputers.doc Accessed: October 26, 2009. mputers.doc Czerniewicz, L. & Brown, C. (2009). Debunking the ‘digital native’: Beyond digital apartheid, towards digital democracy. Edirisingha et al. (2008). Podcasting for learning in universities. P. Edirisingha & G. Salmon (Eds.). London: Open University Press. Faux, F., McFarlane, A., Roche, N., & Facer, K. (2006). Learning with handheld technologies: A handbook from FutureLab, Bristol, UK: FutureLab. Hodgkinson-Williams, C.,& Ng'ambi, D (2009). Opening Scholarship, case study 5: Mobile learning. Cape Town, South Africa: Centre for Educational Technology (CET). Kreutzer, T. (2007). Generation Mobile: Online and Digital Media Usage on Mobile Phones among Low-Income Urban Youth in South Africa. Available from Accessed October 26, 2009. Ng'ambi, D., & Brown, I. (2009). Intended and unintended consequences of student use of an online questioning environment. British Journal of Educational Technology, 40 (2), 316-328. Ng’ambi, D., & Knaggs, A. (2008). Using mobile phones for exam preparation, In Proceedings of the IADIS Mobile Learning Conference, 11-13 April, Algarve, Portugal. ITU (2009). ITU website Accessed October 26, 2009.

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