Managing mobile learning in a higher education environment
The aim of this study is to conduct a thorough theoretical study on mobile learning (m-learning) in order to achieve the primary objective of the study which is to develop a general framework to implement and manage mobile technologies in a higher education environment. The focus of the literature study was to research the state of mobile technologies and their relevance to teaching and learning. The literature study investigate the implications of mobile technologies for students, lecturers and thus for the institution and provided an overview of frameworks found in literature with the emphasis on the management of m–learning within the higher education institution. M–learning is part of a new mobile conception of society, with the mobility of the technologies impacting on the mobility of the students, the lecturers and ultimately on the mobility of higher education. Literature suggests that, while m–learning is proving to be innovative, the factors that most strongly impact on the ultimate success or failure of m-learning will depend on human factors, the balancing of technological ideals and pedagogical imperatives, and the successful management of the interface between human educational systems and technology systems. The proposed general framework focuses on addressing key issues related to m–learning from the perspective of the student, the lecturer and thus the institution. In order to remain competitive higher education needs to be diligent in maintaining the complex technology infrastructure that supports a thriving mobile culture that will meet and exceed the expectations of both lecturers and students. The empirical research conducted had as objectives to investigate the mobile technology assets of respondents with regard to the hardware and the software that they own, the mobile technology actions of respondents in regard to what they do with the mobile technology that they own and to investigate the respondent's attitude towards mobile technologies. A survey was designed and distributed to a sampling of the academic staff and students of the North–West University (NWU) in South Africa, specifically the Potchefstroom Campus. There is ample proof from the empirical study that there is a gap with regard to the level of accessibility, usage, and attitude with regards to the different interest groups in the higher education environment. Higher education institutions should invest in investigating these gaps further and in leveraging off the benefits of the effective management of these technologies to improve teaching and learning. The final chapter concludes with a summary of the secondary objectives researched in the literature (Chapter two) and empirical research (Chapter three) chapters in order to support recommendations towards the primary objective of this study. The rapid pace of adoption and advancement of mobile technologies creates opportunities for new and innovative services provided through such mobile devices. Higher education finds itself in the early innings of the mobile Internet pulling both lecturers and students towards the same place: smaller, faster, cheaper devices working together in a web of connectivity. Recommendations were made in this final chapter on how higher education institutions can leverage the benefits of the effective management of mobile technologies to improve teaching and learning. M–learning has the potential to increase the capacity of higher education through improving efficiency and productivity of teaching and learning. M-learning could address challenges related to quality of teaching such as continuous professional training, lifelong upgrading, connecting with academics worldwide and communicating effectively with students. Higher education is discovering the potential of m-learning to promote student engagement and improving the quality of learning. Management of higher education institutions and systems, management of policy-making including storage and analysis of data, construction and assessment of policy scenarios, and tracer studies or academic tracking systems can be improved through the use of m–learning. Mobile technologies will continue to increasingly become an integral part of students' and lecturers' private and day to day lives and m–learning will be integral in educational content delivery. Additional research is required to study the effective and optimal implementation of m–learning. A better understanding of the benefits and leverage thereof is required and additional research should provide answers to these questions.
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