Reading: “Pupil perspectives on using mobile devices for learning”

The advance of mobile devices into our everyday lives continues, and doesn’t look to falter any time soon (if at all).

As educators and facilitators we talk and plan and design and write about implementing and using these devices (phones, tablets, etc.) as either part of the learning process or as an ancillary device, something additional, to where we want the learning to take place. But are we taking the students’ needs and hopes and desires into account when we do this, or do we think we already know and plough ahead regardless?

As I said in the ‘Improving Learning with Mobile Technology’ eBook “If children are spending more and more time connected online, then it stands to reason that some of this time will be in class. In your class? What are you doing about it?”. This is why the article in Research in Learning Technology – ‘‘I don’t think I would be where I am right now’’. Pupil perspectives on using mobile devices for learning – is relevant and important … it highlights the students’ perspective in a comparison bet ween two academies where mobile devices are encouraged in one and banned in the other.

“Results show that pupils at both schools do use their mobile devices for learning, with significantly more use at the school which allows mobile devices.” (Walker, 2013)

The surveyed children are asked about their use of the devices, whether allowed or not, and whether these are encouraged by direction or whether the students are left alone to figure it out for themselves. By providing children access to a WiFi network for connectivity and online activity is this enabling and encouraging a more inclusive environment for them to work and learn in? If we’re to prepare children for a world after education should the world inside the classroom it look (and work) like the world outside it?

“This article shows that pupils themselves believe that mobile devices help with their learning and that they are convenient and useful.” (Walker, 2013)

The report closes with questions for secondary education leaders on aspects of inclusion and encouragement of mobile technology, but this should also be aimed squarely at the HE sector too. What we, HE, must consider is this … the students that were surveyed for this report, and others like it, are 1-2 years away from being (y)our newest students. These students have expectations  on what kind of environment they will expect to find when they look for University places. We have been warned, we must deliver or risk losing them.

Prof. Stephen Heppell has also warned us of this impending situation, back in 2011, when he interviewed children at a UK school who has helped design their own classrooms, on what Universities and their learning spaces would be like:

Oe student said that she thought  “Universities will have probably thought more about it because they’re more experienced, they’re bigger, there are more students so they have more opinions.” Another students has the expectations of a “range of different type of learning styles and I’ll be able to choose the styles that I like to learn, it’ll be more independent.” Professor Heppell recorded the students knowing it would, and should, act as a wake up call to Universities.

Update: See the original and all of Professor Heppell’s video here – Bournemouth University: Learning The Future

Walker, R. 2013. ” I don’t think I would be where I am right now”. Pupil perspectives on using mobile devices for learning. Research in Learning Technology, 21. Available at: [Accessed: 17 Dec 2013].