Smart mobile devices (SMDs), especially smartphones (Smart mobile devices) and tablets are becoming increasingly ubiquitous among educators and students in Palestine. While their use is on the rise, many academics are not effectively incorporating this technology into their teaching, which may be attributable to their negative perceptions of these devices. This study, therefore, examined academics’ perceptions of the value of integrating SMDs into their teaching activities. A questionnaire survey collected data from 56 academic staff of the Palestine Technical University – Kadoorie, eliciting perceptions of the physical attributes of SMDs, participants’ self-efficacy, the pedagogical affordance of mobile devices, and challenges to their use in teaching.
The findings show that participants were still at the stage of actively experimenting with smartphones and iPads, trialing their use at different levels and for different purposes. In general, although participants were unaware of the full potential of their functionalities, they viewed positively the various pedagogical affordances of integrating these devices into their teaching activities. The most important affordances were linking formal and informal learning spaces by providing anywhere-anytime learning opportunities, and developing interest in the subject matter, thus making the learning experience more enjoyable, meaningful, and accessible. The results also identify various challenges including lack of experience and knowledge, finding the time to design and implement such integration, and selecting appropriate apps for the content being taught. Participants also expressed concerns with the limited connectivity and unreliability of Wi-Fi and 3G/4G networks in Palestine.
Keywords: Higher education; Smart mobile devices; Mobile learning; Faculty perceptions
Smart mobile devices (SMDs), particularly smartphones(Smart mobile devices) and tablets are becoming increasingly ubiquitous among educators and students. Increasing advances in mobile technology, wireless communication networks, physical features of devices, and high penetration usage will drive future trends in mobile learning (Johnson, 2011). By 2017 around 69.4% of the world’s population is expected to use mobile phones (Srivastava, 2014). Reflecting on global trends, mobile device penetration in Palestine reached 75% in 2012 (GSMA, 2013). Given the ready-at-hand availability of SMDs, it is reasonable to recognize the valuable affordance of these technologies to enhance the practice of teaching and learning in higher education (HE) in Palestine, as well as to meet the needs of a generation for whom mobile devices are becoming an integral part of their everyday lives.
In Palestine, there was the rapid growth of the e-learning approach across the HE institution. Almost all universities in Palestine are offering some type of online education and e-services. Students can register for their classes, exchange information, receive course messages from their instructors, search the library for books, access course materials, look up their grades, and stay updated on their academic and financial records. On the other hand, instructors post lecture notes and communicate with students via bulletin boards (Shraim, 2012). Most of these services are web-based computer applications that restrict the academic staff and students from accessing them anytime and anywhere (Atallah & Abu Ghosh, 2015). Recently, many Palestinian universities have mobile application initiatives. For example, Islamic University Gaza and Quds Open University applied Android Applications for displaying the courses’ schedule and exams’ schedule for students from anywhere and anytime, also notifying the students to student lectures’ schedule and exams automatically, viewing the academic information and grades report ( Atallah & Abu Ghosh, 2015). The Palestinian HE environment had the required infrastructure to utilize m-learning. The WiFi networks are available across most Palestinian universities (Alzaza, 2012). Nevertheless, special attention should be paid to teaching staff perceptions of using SMDs in higher education teaching, as they play a central role in the successful implementation of m-learning.
Recent studies indicate that while technology is used increasingly, many teachers are not effectively incorporating it into their teaching (Groff & Mouza, 2008; Levin & Wadmany, 2008; Russell et al., 2007). This can be attributed to teachers’ negative perceptions of technology (Crompton, 2013a). Academics’ perceptions of mobile technologies significantly influence the effective implementation of mLearning (Handal et al., 2013; MacCallum & Jeffrey, 2009). Therefore, if academic staffs are to enhance teaching and learning practice effectively by integrating emerging mobile technologies, they must understand their particular attributes, perceived self-efficacy in using them, have positive attitudes towards their pedagogical affordances, and recognize challenges to implementing them in education. In Palestine, university instructors’ views on integrating mobile technology into their teaching are rarely considered. Therefore, this research explores the perceptions of academic staff at the Palestine Technical University – Kadoorie (PTUK) towards the integration of SMDs in teaching, focusing on the most popular devices in Palestine: Android phones, iPhones, and iPads.
With the growing use of SMDs among educators and learners in Palestine, this study has investigated faculty perceptions of using these devices for meaningful instruction. The findings show that while mobile learning (mLearning) is still at an experimental stage in Palestine, respondents had positive perceptions of the affordances of SMDs in their teaching. SMDs offer much functionality and new opportunities in the evolution of technology-enhanced learning, 81% of respondents found their most useful feature to be mobile in terms of internet connectivity and portability, helping students to learn anywhere at any time.
Participants identified several pedagogical affordances of SMDs that would be useful to enhance their teaching practices. The most important affordances were linking formal and informal learning spaces, and developing interest in the subject matter, thus making learning more enjoyable, meaningful, and accessible. Half of the participants also agreed that SMDs helped them to engage students in exploring real-world issues and solving authentic problems. Smartphones/tablets offer learners various ways to connect the curriculum with real life and to engage through text, voice, image, and video.
Despite the high percentage of smartphone ownership, the study found that faculty were largely still unaware of the full advantages of the newly released SMD functionalities for their teaching, and indeed in daily life, including basic functions such as voice calling, photography, Internet access, and social networking. Therefore, they should become familiar with these basic functions and be encouraged to explore more advanced ones for use in teaching. The results also identify various challenges. The greatest challenges for respondents were wireless network limitations (93%) and their own lack of experience or knowledge of how to use SMDs in lessons (88%). Over 80% also had concerns about finding the time to design and implement their plans and about exploring appropriate apps to match the content being taught.
In order to take full advantage of SMDs in their teaching, faculty must be familiar with how to use them and must understand their affordance and how to incorporate their functionalities into teaching activities. The results also identify and the need for institutional support to invest in academics’ professional development and training in technology, in order to enhance the perception of mLearning in higher education in Palestine.
The limitations of this study include the small and limited sample of faculty from a single Palestinian university. Further research might focus on using the TPACK model to provide faculty with an understanding of the integration of subject content, pedagogical techniques, and mobile technological affordances. There is also a need to develop a set of principles to guide faculty in selecting appropriate apps while designing and applying mobile technologies.
The Kavian Scientific Research Association (KSRA) is a non-profit research organization to provide research / educational services in December 2013. The members of the community had formed a virtual group on the Viber social network. The core of the Kavian Scientific Association was formed with these members as founders. These individuals, led by Professor Siavosh Kaviani, decided to launch a scientific / research association with an emphasis on education.
KSRA research association, as a non-profit research firm, is committed to providing research services in the field of knowledge. The main beneficiaries of this association are public or private knowledge-based companies, students, researchers, researchers, professors, universities, and industrial and semi-industrial centers around the world.
Our main services Based on Education for all Spectrum people in the world. We want to make an integration between researches and educations. We believe education is the main right of Human beings. So our services should be concentrated on inclusive education.
The KSRA team partners with local under-served communities around the world to improve the access to and quality of knowledge based on education, amplify and augment learning programs where they exist, and create new opportunities for e-learning where traditional education systems are lacking or non-existent.
FULL Paper PDF file:Perceptions of Using Smart Mobile Devices in Higher Education Teaching: A Case Study from Palestine
Professor Siavosh Kaviani was born in 1961 in Tehran. He had a professorship. He holds a Ph.D. in Software Engineering from the QL University of Software Development Methodology and an honorary Ph.D. from the University of Chelsea.