Identify a form of technology used in an educational context.
What do you think is the likely impact of this technology on the students’ perceptions of the quality of their modules, their approaches to studying and their academic performance?
The OU has seen in the last quarter a 13% rise in the use of mobile devices (smartphones and tablets). I think this is some 3,500 OU students now accessing the OU VLE in a mobile form. This has come about as a process of responding to students' requests ... some had been tinkering with code to get it on the mobile devices and the OU response has been to configure the new version of the VLE on a new version of Moodle to accommodate this. By responding to the wishes of the students the OU will be perceived as progressive and responsive, appreciating the wishes, circumstances and opportunities that these devices provide a group of people. The immediate request was for alerts of assessment scores and to receive these to mobile devices. With EVERY module now offered in a mobile format you can check off activities as they are completed and keep this track record of what you are getting through in your pocket.
It plays into the hands of the 'innovators', those who are early adopters ... at the expense of the 'laggards?' We've seen the death of the Academic Journal in favour of the e-Journal, and we're seeing modules delivered entirely online ... which kisses good buy to books and folders of paper too. This is the new paper.
No technology results in a clean slate, nor should it. The needs, wishes, desires, hopes and expectations of students have to be met. The next struggle will be for tutor or tutor-like time. We demand so much in this instant world and can often nail the precise person to whom we put questions.
What do you think is the likely impact of this technology on the teachers’ perceptions of their teaching context and their approaches to teaching?
Those in distance learning are already conscious that they are developing a quality product that will be used by hundreds, perhaps thousands of students at a time. They are, like the anonymous authors they are, just pleased that more people can get their fingers onto the content that has been created for them. From a tutor or associate lecturer's point of view, already hamstrung by time constraints, they may feel students have the means to contact them 24/7 from these devices and expect feedback as quickly.
Do you think this technology embodies particular assumptions about the nature of teaching and learning in higher education?
That is it is becoming more student-centred and individualised?
The people can be anywhere and study at any time in a formal manner guided by their course content that is expressed in the same way whether on a mobile device or on their desktop. There's an assumption that enough people have these devices. The OUs policy is to be platform agnostic, all devices can receive or need to be able to receive these data feeds. At the same time, those who do not have or use or want to use mobile devices in this way should never feel left out, in other words you cannot abandon one platform or approach in favour of another when students want to learn or can only learn in such a variety of ways ... except that a box of books and DVDs is understandably dropping out of favour.
Are these assumptions likely to promote more positive perceptions, more desirable approaches to studying and better performance on the part of the students?
On the basis that we all must 'borrow time' from somewhere else to study at all, do mobile devices simply mean that people will try to walk the dog ... and study, go to the football match and do some course work? Travel and work (back of car, on a train or bus, yes), but in micro-moments at other times of the day? I wonder. Though have to confess that I find I concentrate best when on a headland looking out to sea ... tablet in hand? I'm yet to have one of these devices but wonder if it will allow or encourage me to keep topics at the front of my mind, as I could and perhaps would steal moments while a kettle boils, or I eat a sandwich to read and respond to a Forum Thread?