Monday, 7 March 2011

Teachers nervous on mobile technology - say pupils

The photograph and blog is the latest of my posts published on the Engage for Education blog as part of the Scotland's Government Learning Technologies review.

“We’re living in the real world but we just don’t know how school will get there” said Claire, a fourteen-year-old student talking about using mobile technology, including phones in school.

Talking to student groups recently, they all thought that most teachers were nervous about mobile technology and would not adopt its use willingly – unfortunately, they could not foresee any immediate change in this.

They suggested reasons, including the internet security issue. However, an overriding view was that they, as students, knew how to use and apply the technology more effectively than staff.

They gave ‘evidence’ for this. All students in the groups from three schools had mobile phones, over 90% had ‘smart’ phones. All used them for many functions. All, without exception, had to teach their parents and other family members how to use their own, often simpler, phones.

Less than 5% of students had been shown some application by an adult. Nearly all students had been taught applications by their peers though. None had read the manual that came with the phone – “Who does?” they asked.

Their logic followed on that if parents didn’t know how to use phones properly, there was a good chance that the range of teachers they encountered didn’t either. Therefore, if used in the learning context, “teachers may feel they would not be in control”. Few students thought that most teachers would be receptive to being shown by them how to use mobile applications in the context of learning students.

Is this view about attitudes true? I suspect that it may be harsh on many teachers who really do want to engage with their students and learning. For others though, I do have a nagging feeling that they maybe something in what they say!

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