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Use of Emerging Mobile Learning Technologies to Teach Females in the 21st
Emerging Mobile Learning Technologies to Teach Females in the 21st
Mohamed Ally, Ph.D.
حمل المرجع من المرفقات
University of Alberta, Canada
It is a well known fact that for countries and economies to prosper in the 21st century, the citizens of the countries have to be well education and be creative and innovative. This implies that Females as well as males have to be educated so that they can become productive citizens. The use of Emerging Learning Technologies in E-learning, Online Learning, and Mobile Learning will allow educational institutions to reach Females students in their local communities to get an education rather than having them leaving their communities to learn. Hence, Females will be able to continue to maintain their Islamic and social values and learn at the same time. Delivering Learning materials to Females will give them access to Learning materials and at the same time, they will improve their expertise on the use of information, communication and Mobile technologies. Previous studies have shown that if implemented properly, Mobile technology can be used to delivery instruction and to provide support to learners. Using Emerging Learning Technologies to reach Females will place Learning in the hands of Females to improve themselves and apply what they learn to help family members and other members of society to become educated. Designers of Learning materials for Females must take into account the Islamic, cultural, and moral values of the society so that quality education is provided to female learners.
As we move into the 21st century, the use of Emerging Learning Technologies such as Mobile devices, laptop computers, and palmtop computers is having a major impact in distance education. These Technologies allow students to access Learning materials and use the internet to collaborate with each other. As a result, there has been significant growth in E-learning and Mobile Learning in education and training. These Technologies will allow organizations to reach students who do not have access to face-to-face education and at the same time, provide flexibility in the delivery of education. Examples of students who will have access to education include females, individuals who live in remote rural areas and those who have family responsibilities. Some muslim Females are not comfortable in a group face-to-face Learning environment where males are present. The use of distance education Technologies such as Mobile technology will allow muslim Females to learn from a distance.
All humans have the right to access Learning materials and information to improve their quality of life regardless of their gender, where they live, their religion, their status, and their culture. Mobile learning, through the use of Mobile technology, will allow female citizens of the world to access Learning materials and information from anywhere and at anytime. Learners will not have to wait for a certain time to learn or go to a certain place to learn. With Mobile learning, female learners will be empowered since they can learn whenever and wherever they want. Learners can use the wireless Mobile technology for both formal and informal Learning where they can access additional and personalized Learning materials from the Internet or from the organization server. Female workers on the job can use the Mobile technology to access training materials and information when they need it for just-in-time training.
Gulf countries need to develop a sense of urgency to educate the majority of the population to join the workforce to make the countries better prepared for the challenges in the 21st century. There is a need to produce a modern, highly trained and motivated workforce while maintaining traditional Islamic values and morals. The education system must reach out to the Females so that they can become productive and contribute to society according to the values of the culture. The best way to do this is to use Emerging Learning Technologies to implement E-learning and Mobile learning. However, there must be more research on the use Emerging Learning Technologies in Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries to prepare the systems and infrastructure to reach Females and other students (Al-Harthi, 2005).
In some parts of the world, Emerging Learning Technologies are being implemented as a way to improve the quality and expanding access to education for previously underserved sectors of the population. However, to achieve success, teachers and students need to develop new skills and modify their attitudes that will contribute to successful implementation of E-learning and Mobile learning. At the same time, educators need to become more aware of the need to design programs that respond to the specific needs of learners from diverse ********s and cultures. This group of learners should include Females so that they can have access to education and at the same time, develop their information and communication Technologies skills to function in the 21st century.
There are many benefits for using Emerging Learning Technologies for teaching females. The most important benefit is that Females will have access to quality education from anywhere and at anytime without having to leave their communities and families for extended periods of time. This will maintain the existing quality of life while Females obtain an education to contribute to the society and the workplace. Also, Females will gain expertise on the use of Emerging information and communication Technologies when they learn with the technology. The Females can then use the expertise they acquire to Teach their children about the technology and those that go into teaching will be able to model the use of the Emerging Technologies in the classroom for future workers and teachers.
This paper will examine the use of Emerging Learning Technologies to Teach Females and other students and will cover the following topics: use of Emerging Learning Technologies in education, how to design Learning materials for delivery on Emerging Learning technologies, the skills required by students and teachers to function in a technology-****d Learning environment, and research studies on the use of Emerging Learning Technologies in education.
Mobile Technology in Education
With the rapid development of technology, education is making the transition from print to e-learning to Mobile Learning which is defined as the delivery of electronic Learning materials, with built-in Learning strategies, on Mobile computing devices to allow access from anywhere and at anytime (Ally, 2004). The shift from print materials to E-learning to Mobile Learning is possible because of the rapid development of computer and communication technologies. As the demand for access to education grows and increasing numbers of adults return to schools for education and training, the need for new Technologies to facilitate Learning is becoming more important. Mobile Learning provides flexibility: in time and ******** of study; in availability of information and resources; and in forms of communication, such as synchronous and asynchronous, and using various types of social interaction methods through the Internet.
The use of Mobile technology in education is a recent initiative due to the availability and rapid advancement of Mobile devices such as smart phones, PDAs, palmtop, tablet PCs and handheld computers. A key benefit of m-learning is its potential for increasing productivity by making Learning available anywhere, at anytime. However, it is a delivery technology that is currently untapped in the education field. As distance education students increasingly use Mobile technology for everyday and work life, educational organizations must design courses and Learning resources for delivery on Mobile devices. When designed properly, Learning materials can be delivered on a variety of Technologies to allow students to learn and access course materials at their convenience.
There has been limited research on the use of Mobile technology in distance education (Ally, et al., 2009; Ally, 2008; Ally et al., 2008; Yang et al, 2008). Previous research on the use of Mobile technology in education looked at applications in classroom settings. It has only been recently that studies of the use of Mobile technology have moved outside the classroom. Dong and Agogino (2004) concluded that m-learning is most useful when it links real-world situations to relevant information resources. They explored how downloading key information to a PDA (Personal Digital Assistant) would help to enrich the Learning experience of students on a field trip. They also suggested the scenario of students at a museum being able to use their PDAs to provide relevant information. Waycott and Kukulska-Hulme (2003) also studied the use of PDAs outside the classroom. They focused exclusively on students’ experiences with reading course materials and taking notes using PDAs. They found that using PDAs for reading and note taking was less than ideal. Students were getting lost in the documents, and were unable to make notes as comprehensively and easily as they could with a paper copy of the materials. However, their study was conducted using a PDA which at the time was relatively affordable and offered most features common to PDAs, but which didn’t come close to offering the technology available today. The technology of PDAs has improved dramatically in the past three years. Screens are bigger and better, and systems have more memory, more multimedia capabilities, and better methods for inputting data. Given the constant advancements in this field as well as the plethora of possibilities – PDA types with individual capabilities, various systems and applications, and methods for delivering digital library content - there are more questions than answers in the Mobile Learning field. According to Clyde (2004), the challenge is to identify the forms of education and training for which Mobile Learning is particularly appropriate, the potential students who most need it and the best strategies for delivering Mobile education.
Although Mobile Learning is a recent development and there have been some research conducted in this area (Attewell, 2005; British Educational Communications Technology Agency, 2004; Keegan, 2002; Savill-Smith & Kent, 2003). Preliminary investigations report on the limitations of Mobile devices especially the limitations of the small screen size, but also limited processing power, battery life, and memory capacity. Other problems have been encountered because of the wide range in operating systems (Palm OS, ******s CE, Linux) and the differing input devices (Holzinger, Nischelwitzer, & Meisenberger, 2005). Overall, the research on the educational use of Mobile devices is very limited and at the early stages. However, research shows that Mobile devices can be more easily integrated across the curriculum than desktops computers (Moseley & Higgins, 1999). This is possible since many students already have Mobile devices and the wireless Technologies do not need extensive infrastructure as desktop computers. The mobility enabled by these devices can also foster a greater feeling of work ownership by students.
The goals and pedagogical approaches when using Emerging Learning Technologies must be clear as in traditional teaching (British Educational Communications Technology Agency, 2004). Teachers find they have greater confidence in supporting students and increased access to data from anywhere combined with increased efficiency and accuracy (Perry, 2000). Brown (2004) reported that there is already value of using Mobile phones in the management of distance learning. Taylor (2005) is researching Mobile devices use in teacher education in Kenya. White (2004) has conducted research using Mobile devices in disadvantaged communities in a developed country. English as a Second ******** (ESL) and other ********s are also being taught using Mobile devices. Song and Fox (2005) found significant improvements in learner performance of ******** tasks. Others have successfully used Mobile devices for teaching pronunciations and listening skills (Ally, et al., 2009; Uther, Zipetria, Uther, & Singh, 2005). Tense ITS is an adaptive system used for teaching English tenses to ESL learners, with significant positive outcomes (Bull, Cui, Roebig, & Sharples, 2005). Research has also looked at the adaptation of content for Mobile Learning using Learning objects and creating appropriate ****data (Ally, 2004; Friesen, Hesemeier & Roberts, 2005).
Benefits of Using Mobile Technologies
With the use of wireless technology, Mobile devices do not have to be physically connected to networks to access information. Mobile devices are small enough to be portable which allow users to take the devices to any ******** to access course materials. Because of the wireless connectivity of Mobile devices, a female student can interact with other students from anywhere and at anytime to share information or to work collaboratively on sections in a course. Use of Mobile devices to educate female students has many benefits because the wireless devices allow for mobility while learning. Below is a list of benefits of using Mobile technology to educate females.
Since Learning materials are developed in electronic format it is easy to update the Learning materials. Also, since Females can use their Mobile devices to access the Learning materials from a central server, they can receive these updates as soon as they are made.
There will be consistency in Learning since all students will access the same Learning materials from a series of educational networks. This will allow the transfer of Learning materials between educational institutions and across different regions in a country.
Learning is flexible since Females can be located anywhere and complete their education as long as they have the technology to access the Learning materials. This is possible because of the wireless connectivity of Mobile technology.
Females can access Learning materials anytime so they can select the time they learn best to complete their coursework.
There will be more opportunities for informal Learning for immediate application since Females will be able to access the Learning materials as needed.
Developers of Learning materials can take advantage of the computing power of the technology to personalize the Learning experience for individual female students.
The communication capabilities of the Emerging technology will allow Females to connect with each other to collaborate during the Learning process. Also, Females will be able to share their expertise and conduct peer tutoring.
Since the Learning with Emerging technology will be learner-focused, Females will be more active during the Learning process which will promote higher-level learning. This will help solve the problem of female students not being active in a classroom setting.
Since most female students already have Mobile devices, educational institutions can take advantage of this opportunity and design and deliver courses for delivery on different types of Mobile Technologies (Ally & Lin, 2005).
Research Studies Completed on Mobile Learning
The following sections describe recent research studies that were conducted on the use of Mobile technology in education.
Teaching English Grammar on Mobile Technology
A recent research project (Ally et al., 2009) investigated the use of Mobile phone to deliver English grammar lessons to students. The project involved a ‘before-after’ design following the achievements of target groups using pre- and post- tests on three different student groups (n=46). Subjects were given a pre-test to determine their current level of expertise in English grammar. After completing the grammar lessons, subjects were given a post-test and a retention test. The project was implemented in three different institutions with students Learning English is a Second ******** (ESL). All students completed the same lessons and also filled out a questionnaire to give their opinions on the Mobile technology and Mobile learning. The course content consists of 86 lessons and related exercises teaching the basics of the English ********, ranging from the difference between “is” and “are” to verb tenses, countable nouns, and other aspects of basic grammar in the English ********. The content is interactive where students are given constant practice using a variety of question types. Four different types of questions were used to make the grammar exercises more interactive, easy to access in the Mobile device and to test the students’ ability. They were true/false, multiple choice drop downs, changing the order of sentences, and matching questions.
Students completed three grammar tests during the study. The pre-test was written before the students attempted the lessons on the Mobile phones. The average score on the pre-test was 15 out of 20. The post-test was given immediately following the completion of the ten assigned grammar units. The post-test average was 17.7 out of 20. A retention test, in the same format, was given to the students one week later. The average score was 18 out of 20. A slight improvement was shown after the students accessed and studied the grammar units on the Mobile phone. There was further improvement on the retention test which was administered one week after the post-test.
Most participants in the study expressed a positive experience using the Mobile phone to learn English grammar. In the de******ive responses, they indicated that the use of Mobile technology for ESL would be a good supplementary medium of Learning such as, when waiting for the bus or being on the bus or whenever there is some spare time. The flexibility of anytime availability of the Mobile ESL materials was appreciated by the students. One major concern expressed over the user of cell phones to access the Internet and the lessons was the cost of Internet access. Availability of Wi-Fi capable phones should address the concern on the cost of access. Some students provided feedback on the limitations of the Mobile phones. Recent developments in Mobile technology, such as the virtual keyboard and screen, could solve the problem with the input device and screen size.
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