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Supporting university students’ learning across time and space: a from-scratch, personalised and mobile-friendly approach

Eliza Rossiter (School of Communication, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Australia)
T.J. Thomson (School of Communication, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Australia)
Rachel Fitzgerald (School of Business, The University of Queensland, Saint Lucia, Australia)

Interactive Technology and Smart Education

ISSN: 1741-5659

Article publication date: 9 November 2022

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Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this study is to evaluate the use and effectiveness of a bespoke mobile learning resource, Pocket Tutor. This resource responds to a number of teaching and learning challenges within the tertiary education context. These include those related to the number and type of learning activities that can be offered, class pacing, subject-specific content considerations and the availability and quality of off-the-shelf learning resources. Educators have to potentially contend with all of these amidst mounting institutional constraints and external pressures. Yet, a supplemental, from-scratch online learning resource can help mitigate some of these challenges.

Design/methodology/approach

This study presents the successes and challenges of introducing a mobile learning resource, Pocket Tutor, to bolster autonomous learning in a supported university learning environment. Pocket Tutor was designed and developed in 2019 and integrated in 2020 and 2021 into a multimedia design class offered at a large university in the Asia-Pacific. The resource’s effectiveness is measured against common technology acceptance factors – including self-efficacy, enthusiasm and enjoyment in relation to contextual purpose and class learning outcomes – through a multi-pronged approach consisting of a class-wide survey, developed specifically for this purpose and analysis of usage data. Deeper context was also provided through a small pool of follow-up interviews.

Findings

Evidence from this study’s data suggests that a bespoke, mobile-learning resource can provide greater consistency, more relevance, more flexibility for when and where students learn and more efficiency with limited opportunities for synchronous interaction. At the same time, a bespoke mobile-learning resource represents a significant investment of skill and time to develop and maintain.

Originality/value

This study responds to calls from scholars who argue that more research (especially that is qualitative and discipline-specific) is needed to investigate students’ willingness to use learning apps on their mobile devices. This study pairs such research about student willingness with actual usage data and student reflections to more concretely address the role of mobile learning resources in higher education contexts. This study also, importantly, does not just assess perceptions and attitudes about mobile learning resources in the abstract but assesses attitudes and usage patterns for specific generic and bespoke mobile learning resources available for students in a specific university class (thereby providing discipline-specific insights). This study also provides a unique contribution by including multiple years of data and, thus, offers a longitudinal view on how mobile-learning resources are perceived and used in a particular higher education context.

Keywords

Citation

Rossiter, E., Thomson, T.J. and Fitzgerald, R. (2022), "Supporting university students’ learning across time and space: a from-scratch, personalised and mobile-friendly approach", Interactive Technology and Smart Education, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print. https://doi.org/10.1108/ITSE-07-2022-0082

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2022, Emerald Publishing Limited

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