Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Mobile learning and questioning the book metaphor

The current issue of EDUCAUSE Quarterly has an article of interest. The article asks why we should consider "pdf-equivalent" of the print book as the proper metaphor in creating digital course materials. Such close equivalents produce few, if any, notable improvements in student learning outcomes. The piece goes on to focus heavily on mobile pilot projects that have been going on at Abilene Christian University over the past three semesters.

The article's reported key takeaways were:

  • Students have expectations for interactivity and connectedness when they use digital devices, yet these expectations are frequently unmet when using most digital textbooks, resulting in a lack of mass adoption.

  • Visions of media-rich, cost-efficient educational texts available on a variety of digital devices seem frustratingly slow to solidify due to a wide range of factors, including failure to effectively exploit the pedagogical potential of mobile devices.

  • Abilene Christian University and GYLO partnered to investigate student attitudes and perceptions of impact of using a mobile device app as a supplemental tool for teaching statistics.

  • A series of pilot studies found a positive correlation between use of the app and perceptions of increased engagement and consequently higher grades in the course.
These findings mirror observations noted on this blog in the past, and noted in other studies. The focus and emphasis on mobile as an adoption factor in this particular study was interesting, in addition to its reinforcement of our already held beliefs as to why digital course materials fail to meet expectations on the sales side.

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