Students learn through the benefits of technology at UAEU

Technology in education has benefitted a number of students at the United Arab Emirates University (UAEU), thanks to a course engaging them in learning through the use of tablets and mobile phones.

A study, conducted by Dr Ghadah AlMurshidi, Professor of Curriculum and Instruction at the College of Education, explored the major advantages and the challenges alike, that the students had experienced as a result of the introduction of Mobile Learning in their courses.

Based on surveys and interviews conducted with almost 400 students, the majority indicated that they were able to study with the help of these devices at any time and in any place. This enabled them to meet any potential deadline they had for their tasks much faster than without the use of technological devices.

“Our university is directed towards more mobile learning and our country is moving towards technology,” Dr AlMurshidi said. “From iPads to iPhones, we worked on this for three years and created a book for the course.”

Mobile learning was used in the university’s Family Community Culture and Society in the Early Childhood course, which Dr AlMurshidi teaches. “The students like it because they can use those applications, study and do their homework online so they don’t need to carry heavy textbooks anymore,” she said. “The e-book we created is interactive and it includes everything the students need in one location – tests, quizzes, reviews, videos and demonstrations. That makes it very practical for them.”

However, students revealed that they faced some difficulties in terms of access to networks in most places, as most of their work required some sort of network connection.

Although it proved partially beneficial, the survey also showed that the majority of students faced the challenge of distraction, as they used such devices during classroom lectures. Most of the students said they preferred to have devices with larger storage capacity, with the ability to open any file that may not be possible on most devices.

However, student interviews showed that the battery life of such devices prevented the students to carry on with their work, especially during quiz and presentation times. Devices are especially needed in such presentations, as they play an important role.

Other findings revealed that writing an email and submitting work directly via email had greatly helped the students in completing their work. But the lack of knowledge in using these devices affected most of the participants as it reduced their motivation to work with such technological devices.

Analysis showed that the majority preferred to get engaged in such kind of mobile learning in order to increase their opportunities on the job market, as it is considered an asset to have in different fields of education and work.

Dr AlMurshidi is currently looking at other universities, which have expressed interest in the device, to create a curriculum from it. “Textbooks are expensive,” she said. “What we are trying to do is blended learning, which means half the semester is done on the e-book.”

So far, 50 apps are available, including 11 chapters. A potential idea she has is to create a video story that students will be able to submit through the device. “The idea of this approach is that students have to go through a training, an internship or some field work,” Dr AlMurshidi explained. “It’s a place connected to what they are studying, and they will have a case study.

Through it, they will try to perform some research and interviews, and come up with solutions while documenting it – some videos can also be made public on YouTube, so people can access them.”

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Aug 7, 2018