As we continue to reflect on the value of mobile learning, it is important to consider the issues surrounding the difficulties in implementation. One cannot successfully implement the use of mobile devices for learning in schools without reflecting on the difficulties associated with this form of learning. Here, I reflect on what I perceive as five major difficulties associated with mobile learning. Please feel free to provide your ideas or solutions in the comment field of this blog post.
Difficulty #1: Cost
It’s no secret that supporting a mobile device is expensive. If it’s an iPod Touch, then the cost is upfront. If’s it’s a cell phone or smart phone, then the cost is perpetual. Regardless of the device, mobile learning involves an added cost and while the school can support some of the burden, often this burden is left to parents. How do we deal with the cost factor?
Difficulty #2: Changing Attitudes
I’m all for the use of mobile electronic devices for learning. However, I can honestly say that I am probably in the minority. From my perspective, many prefer to keep education in a state that is similar to the one that they learned in. Highly structured. Books. Paper. Assignments for the teacher only. Teacher as the keeper of knowledge. Students seated in rows and listening to the teacher most of the time. Where does mobile learning fit in this environment?
Difficulty #3: Dealing with Discipline Issues
This issue really hits home for me. As a teacher and a curriculum consultant, I had the privilege of focusing on curriculum. Now, as an administrator, I can appreciate how the presence of expensive devices can add stress and create problematic situations for staff. Whether the issue is theft, loss or damage, the inevitability of incidents that result from the presence of these devices is an issue that needs to be addressed. Then there is the issue of students using devices for activities other than learning. If a child brings a device to school because the school wants to allow them to use the device for learning, but then the student uses it to bully another child, how do we deal with that?
Difficulty #4: Access at school
It’s no secret that schools do not have infrastructure to support mobile learning. Even if students had devices at their disposal, how could they ever use them for productive ends if the school has no way to allow students to connect their devices to a network for access to the Internet?
Difficulty #5: School Board Policy
The school board I work for is open enough to allow students to use electronic devices for learning if the teacher allows for it. It gives teachers the flexibility to decide whether or not they want to use these devices for learning. From what I hear, this is the exception and not the rule. How can we use mobile devices for learning if policy prohibits their use in school?
While I have my opinions, I do not have the answers to these questions. How would you deal with these difficulties?