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INVESTIGATE THE PEDAGOGICAL AFFORDANCES OF SMARTPHONE AND WEB 2.0
The modern generation has seen rapid development in terms of technology. This has been transferred into various environments including learning centers. How is technology used in learning environments such as classrooms? Smartphones as part of technology are widely used by students in classrooms for various purposes (Lu, 2012, p 12). Although teachers are against the idea of students carrying Smartphone to class, research shows that the technology has greatly influenced the learning process. Considering this as the point of focus, some of the ways through which students use Smartphone include taking notes and transferring them online with a study group, creation of presentations or flashcards, having instant access to sites that aid in answering questions asked and for doing video assignments where students are in a position to record their films and send them to their teachers for assessment. This paper introduces what Smartphones are, how they are used by students and the accompanying advantages and disadvantages in the learning processes. Besides, the paper includes a literature review section that gives details of previous studies that indicate how learners use Smartphone in the learning process. This section also includes a definition of terms such as mobile learning, Smartphone, Web 2, affordances and context based learning among others. Comparison and analysis of context and students’ learning practice also forms an integral part of the paper. The paper concludes by summarizing all the necessary and vital information about the use of Smartphone in the classroom and also gives future trends in the use of Smartphone in learning institutions.
More people are embracing the phrase “Getting smart with Smartphones”. As a result, the population of people with Smartphones across the world is growing fast. The devices are known to have multiple functions, are portable and have easy internet connectivity and this is opening doors for effective learning in classrooms and other learning environments. Wankel et al (2013) articulate that today, most students depend on Smartphones to improve their academics although they face great opposition from their teachers. A large percentage of the teacher population has the perception that the gadgets distract the students more than they help them in the leaning process. This is because they only view them as gadgets of communication which students use to access social networks such as Facebook, Twitter and Whatsapp among others while in the classroom. However, research shows that today, students perceive and use Smartphones in the classroom with the aim of improving and excelling in their academics. This is known as mobile learning and it has various advantages and disadvantages. The mobile learning influenced by Smartphones is advantageous due to the portability, low cost, energy-saving ability, easy and fast connection, the personal feel, the engagement involved and the good use of time Ravenscroft, 2012, p 111). Nonetheless, the use of Smartphones can be a great disadvantage due to the high cost of some of the gadgets, the small size which make them get lost easily, the battery life and the complications during usability (An et al, 2015).
Previous studies have examined how students use Smartphones to improve or enhance the learning process. In their study “Using Smartphones as Essential Tools for Learning”, Cathleen Norris, Akhlaq Hossain and Elliot Soloway articulate that individuals need 21st century tools to truly teach 21st century skills. According to the trio, that means that, with laptops not being sustainable, Smartphones are sustainable, cost-wise and should be used in educational institutions to improve students’ skills. The study states that during the 2008 school year, students in 3rd grade at Nan Chiau Primary School used HTC 68000 Smartphones with software that enabled the entire presentation and enactment of the lesson. In the case, all the activities that students had to undertake through the lesson were specified in the software on the Smartphone. Their study also opines that students often use Smartphones for outdoor learning activities such as taking pictures of objects in their neighborhoods using the cameras on their Smartphones and this enables the learners to relate the abstract ideas in the lessons to the concrete things in the world.
Subsequently, research done by Daesang Kim, Daniel Rueckert, Dong-Joong Kim and Daeryong Seo suggests that the use of mobile devices in learning environments has become more pervasive, and that the devices will provide greater mobile connectivity and communication in learning institutions. However, the researchers mention the weaknesses in the use of Smartphones by students in learning environments. For instance, they argue that some students might have limited access to mobile devices due to device and service costs.
Understanding specific terms accompanying the use of Smartphone technology in learning institutions is very important, and research done by Daesang Kim et al defines Smartphones as gadgets that have allowed individuals to communicate to others through making phone calls and text messages as well as use other features that were initially only found on personal computers. The research opines that the first company to come up with a successful Smartphone was the BlackBerry. Daesang et al relate Smartphones to mobile learning. In their research, they define mobile learning as the use of various gadgets such as Smartphones, music players, tablet computers, laptops and netbooks among others for education-minded purposes and productivity (International conference on e-learning, 2014, p 213). Apart from Smartphones, Daesang at al opine that Web 2.0 also plays an integral role in influencing the learning processes in educational institutions. According to their research, Web 2.0 is described as a site that allows for interaction and collaboration among its users in a social media dialogue to create content that is user-generated in a virtual community. The research gives examples of Web 2.0 including social networking sites, blogs, wikis, hosted services, Web applications and video sharing sites among others. The other concept included in their research is Smartphone affordance which is the relationship between students in the learning institutions and Smartphones that gives the students the opportunity of performing certain actions such as taking notes and transferring them to computers and doing online research on questions asked by teachers. The other concept included in Daesang’s research is context based learning which is achieved by Smartphones. The research describes context based learning as the use of real-life situations in the teaching environment to enhance the learning of a subject matter that is at hand and this is enhanced by the use of Smartphones.
Away from the literature review, in the modern world, it is important to note that Smartphones play an integral role in the students’ learning process. To begin with, as earlier mentioned, HKAECT (Conference) & Ma (2014) are of the opinion that the use of Smartphones in the learning environment has given learners the opportunity of taking notes and transferring them to laptops and computers where they are able to share them with study groups. Secondly, the use of Smartphones has helped enhance the learning process as teachers are in a position to create presentations or flashcards through the use of Smartphone technology. Thirdly, according to HKAECT (Conference) & Ma (2014), when learners have Smartphones in the classroom, they are able to have instant access to several websites and this helps them answer questions asked by the teachers easily and in a faster way. The other way through which learners use Smartphones in the learning environment is that they are able to have discussions about academic assignments and homework through social network sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Whatsapp among others. These sites can only be accessed through Smartphones and other computer gadgets. Apparently, unlike normal cell phones used for calling and sending messages only, Smartphones have a variety of features such as the calculator which aids or rather helps learners in their arithmetic calculations while in the classroom.
HKAECT (Conference) & Ma (2014) also state that the other role of Smartphones is that they enhance context based learning. As dicussed earlier, this is the practice where real-life situations are used to enhance the learning process. Most of the time, Smartphones have features such as cameras which are used to take images of objects or places that are studied by students. Conversely, Smartphones have Google maps that have the ability of directing individuals from one place to another. This aspect is beneficial especially for students who go out of their classrooms for fieldwork. They often use the Google map application available in the Smartphones to indicate directions.
According to Mezirow & Taylor (2011), there are relationships that exist between contexts and students’ learning practice. This is because learning practices such as the use of Smartphones only depend on certain contexts. For example, if the devices are meant for the learning process, they are always supported by teachers and all stakeholders in the learning environment. However, if the devices are not meant for learning, they often face opposition from various stakeholders (Organization for economic co-operation and development, 2009, p 12)
In recap, the wide use of Smartphones in the modern day society should be attributed to the rapid technological development and acceptance. One encouraging fact is that Smartphones are very different from other cell phones because of the several features they possess. In fact, Smartphones are defined as gadgets that have allowed individuals to communicate to others through phone call making and text message sending as well as use other features that were previously only found on personal computers (An et al, 2015). This research opines that Smartphones have been of great help and contribution in the learning process as they have helped improve the academic standards of several learners. Some of the ways through which learners use Smartphones in the learning process include taking of notes and transferring them to laptops where they are able to share them with study groups, creating presentations or flashcards, having access to several websites that help in answering questions asked by teachers and discussing homework or assignments through social networking sites available on Smartphones. Generally, the modern-day improvements in the global education standards can be attributed to the integration of the use of Smartphones in learning institutions.
The use of Smartphones should be embraced in almost all learning institutions. In fact, it is predicted that in future, every student in any educational institution will be forced to have a Smartphone in order to enhance the learning process. The world is moving fast and digital and e-learning will be embraced. To effectively achieve this, internet connectivity is vital and since laptops are not sustainable, Smartphones will be the only way out.
AN, H., ALON, S., & FUENTES, D. 2015. Tablets in K-12 education: integrated experiences and implications. http://site.ebrary.com/id/10927551.
HKAECT (CONFERENCE), & MA, W. W. K. 2014. New media, knowledge practices and multiliteracies: HKAECT 2014 International Conference. http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&scope=site&db=nlebk&db=nlabk&AN=876805.
INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON E-LEARNING. 2014. Proceedings of the the 9th International Conference on e-Learning, ICEL-2014, 26-27 June 2014. Reading, Academic Conferences and Publishing International Limited.
LU, Z. 2012. Learning with mobile technologies, handheld devices, and smart phones: innovative methods. Hershey, PA, Information Science Reference.
MEZIROW, J., & TAYLOR, E. W. 2011. Transformative Learning in Practice Insights from Community, Workplace, and Higher Education. New York, NY, John Wiley & Sons. http://nbn-resolving.de/urn:nbn:de:101:1-201412225493.
ORGANISATION FOR ECONOMIC CO-OPERATION AND DEVELOPMENT. 2009. Creating Effective Teaching and Learning Environments First Results from TALIS : Executive Summary. Paris, OECD.
RAVENSCROFT, A. 2012. 21st century learning for 21st century skills 7th European Conference on Technology Enhanced Learning, EC-TEL 2012, Saarbrücken, Germany, September 18-21, 2012 : proceedings. Berlin [etc.], Springer.
WANKEL, L. A., BLESSINGER, P., STANAITYTE, J., & WASHINGTON, N. 2013. Increasing student engagement and retention using mobile applications smartphones, Skype and texting technologies. Bingley, U.K., Emerald. http://oclc-marc.ebrary.com/id/10654602.
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