Increasing Student Engagement and Retention Using Mobile Applications: Smartphones, Skype and Texting Technologies: Volume 6 Part D

Cover of Increasing Student Engagement and Retention Using Mobile Applications: Smartphones, Skype and Texting Technologies

Table of contents

(18 chapters)

The chapters in this book focus on three key areas of innovation in teaching and learning in higher education today: smartphone devices, texting applications, and multipurpose, multimedia mobile communicative applications such as Skype. Today's educators have at their disposal a wide array of digital technologies that enable them to enhance the teaching and learning process. These technologies, coupled with more valid and reliable learning theories, are revolutionizing the way we teach and are altering our notions of what it means to learn and live in a post-industrial, globalized world. Both individually and socially, these new mobile technologies are becoming increasingly popular and useful as educational tools across a wide range of disciplines as a means to engage and retain students. If used appropriately and purposefully, these mobile technologies are well suited for the increasingly interconnected and interdependent world we live in and they provide educators with another set of tools by which to enrich the teaching and learning process and educational outcomes (Kukulska-Hulme, 2012).

The chapter discusses how student engagement can be facilitated through educational designs that make conscious use of various online communication technologies. The discussions are based on cases from the practice at the Danish Master Programme in Information and Communications Technology (ICT) and Learning (MIL), where students from all over Denmark within a networked learning structure are studying in groups combining on-site seminars with independent and challenging virtually organized project periods. The chapter discusses the involvement of students as co-designers of how courses and learning environments unfold, and deals with the development of students’ information literacy. Various teacher roles are addressed, as implementing new educational technology requires teachers who are flexible and aware of the different challenges in the networked environment. The aim of the chapter is to discuss the application of new technological possibilities in educational settings inspired by problem- and project-based learning.

New mobile platforms, connected seamlessly to the Internet via wireless access, become increasingly more powerful as each day passes. Smartphones and tablet computers, as well as other ultraportable devices, have already gained enough critical mass to be considered mainstream devices, being present in the daily lives of millions of higher education students. Whole firms, devoted solely to developing high-quality and high engagement content to these devices, have emerged, populating an application market of thousands of teaching applications (apps) focused on diverse higher education topics, from physics and calculus to anatomy and law. Many universities throughout the world have already adopted or are planning to adopt mobile technologies in many of their courses as a better way to connect students with the subjects they are studying. These new mobile platforms allow students to access content anywhere/anytime to immerse himself/herself into that content (alone or interacting with teachers or colleagues via web communication forms) and to interact with that content in ways that were not previously possible (via touch and voice recognition technologies, for instance). The study of such technologies and their possible uses for higher education, as well as the impacts they can have on stimulating more active participation and engagement with the course subjects and research in higher education, while at the same time fostering collaboration among students and even different institutions, is the goal of the proposed chapter. Through the evaluation of the teacher/student acceptance and adoption of such mobile technologies, this chapter plans to provide a thorough overview of the possibilities and consequences of mobile learning in higher education environments as a gateway to ubiquitous learning – perhaps the ultimate form of learner engagement, since it allows the student to learn, access and interact with important content in any way or at any time or place she/he might want.

In this chapter, we offer a thorough research compendium that bridges together theories and perspectives from various disciplines including adult and higher education, psychology and social psychology, sociology, and women's and gender studies in order to help instructors think about ways to expand on existing activities by incorporating mobile technologies in the learning process. Based on this review of literature, we discuss the importance of motivation, participation, community, voice, and learning in higher education and offer our Interdisciplinary Model for Student-Centered Classrooms as a guide for helping instructors who want to use mobile technologies in their own classes. In the second half of the chapter, we discuss suggestions for achieving this model through the use of mobile technologies, provide several opportunities for critical reflection of this model through problem-based scenarios to stimulate applications of our model, and consider the process of infusing mobile technologies into current pedagogical techniques. Overall, this chapter provides a theoretical basis and mandate for further research and implementation of mobile technologies as useful pedagogical tools in higher education capable of increasing student retention, engagement, and positive learning outcomes in higher education.

Mobile technology can offer new opportunities for online learning that extends beyond the learning management system. Advancing a teaching strategy that incorporates mobile technology for online classes does not need to require a large budget. Two adoption strategies are presented here: leveraging of mobile web 2.0 tools and use of native mobile tools. The paradigm of mobile learning brings new pedagogical affordances to context for authentic learning. We demonstrate an activity-based approach to provide learners with additional tools to create meaningful learning experiences anytime, anywhere. This approach fits nicely into learner-centered and constructivist environments because students are learning through their own active involvement. At the same time, it allows students to get excited about what they are learning. In addition, we discuss the institutional, architectural, and pedagogical challenges arising from the use of mobile technology in online courses.

The Fashion Design Podcast Initiative educated students about podcasting by having the students share in the teaching activities as part of learning. The faculty implemented Lernen durch Lehren (LdL) or “Learning by Teaching” pedagogy and Bloom's revised taxonomy to encourage and support creativity, independence, confidence, and soft skills (i.e., teamwork, communication, decision making, research, exploration, and presentation skills) with emerging technologies. By creating educational podcasts, students developed skills in new technologies and disseminated information to educate others about fashion design. Faculty and students discovered the benefits and drawbacks with emerging technologies as teaching strategies.

Research into the autonomous use of MP3 audio recorders by students in UK higher education demonstrated that students were innovative in their autonomous use of the devices. They used them to capture learning conversations from formal and informal situations to personalise and enhance their learning. However, today smartphones and other smart devices have replaced the necessity for students to carry multiple mobile devices including MP3 recorders. This chapter builds upon the earlier work and presents a small qualitative study into how students are autonomously using their smart devices to support their learning. The research explores the hypothesis that students are being innovative in the ways in which they are using their smart devices to support their formal and informal learning. The study involved five students who own smart devices who were invited to discuss their ownership of smartphone and tablet technologies and the ways they used them in their studies. The students first completed a short questionnaire and were then interviewed in small groups. The results agree with previous research into student use of smart devices and describe autonomous engagement facilitated by personally owned smart technologies. The study identifies continuous patterns of pervasive engagement by students and concludes that more thought should be given to disruptive innovation, digital literacy and employability.

Information and Communication Technology offers powerful Web 2.0 tools that can benefit learners with different learning preferences. The rise of video streaming, the increased proliferation of ‘on demand’ televisual media and new smartphone streaming opportunities have generated a range of web-based media that may usefully support teachers and learners in accommodating these varied learning styles. At the same time, media streaming technologies such as YouTube have distinct drawbacks for students, teachers and their institutions, particularly in relation to appropriate content and the ethical issues around the uploading of student materials to a public repository.

Two studies are reported. In Study 1, two case studies of how teachers engaged students with a media-streaming system called Box of Broadcasts (BoB) are discussed using principles of design-based research. The result from the first case study indicated that BoB provided an improved efficiency for teachers who filmed students’ presentations in a second language. The second case study illustrated how the integration of BoB into their classroom teaching led a psychology teacher to think differently about students and the design and delivery of teaching and learning resources. In Study 2, the use of a qualitative semi-structured interview approach with eight teachers indicated that staff felt that BoB was beneficial in supporting pedagogic practice. Furthermore, staff highlighted the opportunities for dialogue about theory, reality and practice that video materials offered to students as added value. Key limitations for some staff in their use of BoB as a support for video-enriched pedagogic practice were the restricted level of available content on BoB, some difficulties relating to the skills required for creating and using clips and technical stability when using clips.

In this chapter we report findings from a quantitative and qualitative pilot study of students from a single university setting in the northeastern United States. The majority of participants were enrolled in either face-to-face or online sections of a business course in organizational behavior, and the textbook modality included both open (PDF) and proprietary (CourseSmart) digital formats. The key research questions focus on the degree to which students feel satisfied with electronic textbooks (e-textbooks). We also explore correlates of students’ satisfaction and their positive attitudes regarding the functionality of the use of e-textbooks by examining the impact of prior coursework and students’ concurrent use of other Internet sites, e.g., social media networks, while reading e-textbooks. Specifically, we explore the extent to which students’ positive attitudes toward the functionality of e-textbook use is sufficient to result in students’ engagement. Engagement is measured via their intentions to buy additional e-textbooks in the future, their course grades, and their perceptions of comprehension of the material over time. Students’ overall satisfaction with the e-textbook is likewise explored to determine impact on the same measures of engagement.

In this chapter the notion of ‘the third context’ is presented as a useful perspective in order to reduce the gap between work and continuing education, as continuing education is argued to be an activity different from work as well as education, namely as something ‘third’. Consequently, ‘the third context’ is an alternative to the predominant understanding of work and education as two incompatible entities based on different paradigms. The understanding of incompatibility between work and education had extensive influence on learner engagement and learning outcome in two continuing education courses based on Facilitated Work Based Learning (FWBL). FWBL focuses extensively on integrating work and continuing education with the purpose of increasing employee involvement and engagement: Theoretically, FWBL is inspired by John Dewey and Problem Based Learning. Obstacles occurred during the FWBL courses, especially in relation to the question of ‘how can work and continuing education be integrated?’ More extensive use of information technology is argued to be a method supporting the alignment of processes between the FWBL course and the workplace.

Lars Birch Andreasen is Associate Professor at the Department of Learning and Philosophy at Aalborg University, Denmark, where he is a member of the Research Lab: ICT and Designs for Learning. He holds a Ph.D. in Education from the Danish University of Education and an M.A. in Cultural Sociology from Copenhagen University. His research interests are dialogic communication, problem- and project-based learning, collaboration in virtual learning environments, information literacy, and lifelong learning.

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Cutting-Edge Technologies in Higher Education
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Emerald Publishing Limited
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