HOW TO: USE MOBILE IN HE Students at UWE are using their smartphones to aid learning. Picture: UWE Bristol Dave Pratt
SMARTPHONE, SMART UNI University students are inseparable from their smartphones, yet rather than ﬁght the revolution, many universities are embracing mobile as an aid to learning. Terry Freedman investigates
t hardly needs stating that the majority of people carry a smartphone, a device that is increasingly being used to access the internet. According to Ofcom’s Communications Market Report of 2016, 71% of adults own a smartphone, a ﬁgure that rises to 93% when those aged 16 plus are included. As far as the student population is concerned, a 2015 study by McGraw-Hill found that 61% of students said that they used their smartphone regularly to aid study; this ﬁgure is almost certainly larger now. Universities recognise the need to make resources and facilities accessible on mobile devices. In this article we look at three examples of how students are using their smartphones at university, both in and out of the lecture theatre.
VIDEO ASSESSMENT A challenge facing Manuel Frutos-Perez, director of learning enhancement at the University of the West of England (UWE), concerned assessment. In nursing, for example, an ability to communicate is crucial, but a traditional examination-type approach would only tell the instructor if a student understood the theory. The solution has been to incorporate students’ use of smartphones, in the form of video-based assessment. 20
On the first-year nursing degree programme, students are grouped into threes and given roleplay assignments. Two of them act out the roles, while the third films them on a smartphone. Then the roles are rotated. According to Frutos-Perez, “These videos form the basis of a highly detailed written self-reflection, and show whether or not students can put the theory into practice”.
CAPTURING LEARNING To facilitate this large-scale use of students’ video recordings, UWE has integrated Kaltura’s video platform into the virtual learning environment (VLE), making it easy for students to upload their videos. At the same time, the categorisation of the videos and other metadata are handled in the background. For outside of lectures, UWE has developed an app that makes it easy for students to manage their library accounts, check their timetable and ﬁnd where their next lecture is taking place. Helen Caldwell is the senior lecturer in education (primary computing) at the University of Northampton, her students being trainee primary teachers on the BA primary QTS and foundation degree in teaching and learning. The students in her computing and
technology enhanced learning (TEL) seminar sessions are encouraged to use their smartphones to capture their activities and then to post to the online Google Plus communities and personal blogs associated with the modules. Caldwell states: “This blended approach extends the formal learning into more informal contexts away from the faceto-face sessions.” Students also submit their blogs as reﬂective e-portfolios for their module assignment. A key feature of Northampton’s computing and TEL work is using technology to support children engaging with authentic real world exploration to make and share a range of digital artefacts. For example, students use their smartphones to take a photo, and then use Thinglink to overlay it with tags that, in eﬀect, bring the picture alive by embedding documents, videos and other types of link. Caldwell believes that students use smartphones well to share and build knowledge collaboratively, such as through social media.
AUGMENTED REALITY Steve Wheeler is associate professor of learning technologies, and is the subject lead for ICT and computing at Plymouth University. His students on the BEd (primary)
course use smartphones sometimes to grab images from the screen and then use them to jog memories of conversations, or maybe use them in blog posts, or annotate them. As part of the course, students do a ‘learning walk’ around Plymouth, the objective being to tell the history of the town without words, courtesy of their smartphones’ cameras and augmented reality apps such as Aurasma, Layar and Blippar. These enable students to turn images (and other objects) into rich interactive experiences. According to Wheeler, students’ use of smartphones is good, in that they share ideas on social media, and sometimes poor, such as when they check their emails in lectures. Yet Wheeler is very deﬁnite about the value of mobile technology in universities: “The future of learning is smart mobile. As I said in my book Learning with E’s, ‘You literally hold the future in your hands.’” www.aurasma.com https://blippar.com/en www.kaltura.com www.layar.com www.northampton.ac.uk https://plus.google.com www.plymouth.ac.uk www.thinglink.com www.uwe.ac.uk
Technology for engaging minds