Tech-savvy students demand mobile tools

Last updated 17:35 11/04/2013
Tablet education

TOOLS AT HAND: Massey University research shows education providers can't keep up with the needs of a more technology-savvy generation of students.

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University lecturers feel out of their depth as students demand the use of smartphones and tablets in class, new research shows.

Massey University PhD student Kathryn MacCallum said there was a clear difference in attitudes towards technology from teachers and students.

"Students are increasingly demanding mobile learning," she said.

"They are very comfortable using smartphones and tablets and find the flexibility and ability to share resources and collaborate on projects really engaging.

"There is a clear generational shift, with some teachers not comfortable using mobile technology at all, while many others are comfortable using it in their personal lives but not as a teaching tool."

Massey University Bachelor of Science student Shane Field said he had been a student for several years and classes that had a lack of technological engagement were much harder to learn in.

"Some classes only use the online tools to put up lecture slides, and really that is not much of a step further than paper."

He said most lecturers used online resources well, but there was no real engagement with smartphones or tablets.

One lecturer who has experimented with mobile learning is Massey economics lecturer Sam Richardson.

He implemented a system where students could ask and answer questions on their cellphones during classes.

He said the system had mixed results.

"The response from students was good, but at times it was hard to implement," he said.

"I had to change the way I did things and it required some special class planning, but it had its moments."

Richardson said lecturers faced two main challenges when it came to mobile technology.

The first was availability of resources as tertiary institutions did not back these sorts of initiatives. His one was a personal endeavour.

The other was a resistance to using mobile technology in class from some students, who believed their mobile device was a social tool and not an educational one.

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