COMPARATIVE STUDY ON UNIVERSITY STUDENTS’ EXPERIENCE AND OPINIONS ON USING IPADS
In the current project HEI ICI LITE the University of Betlehem, Palestine and the Diaconia University of Applied Sciences, Finland the purpose is to develop and implement the use of new educational technology and blended learning approach applying mobile learning and teaching options. The teachers and students in both universities were provided with iPads, and the teaching staff is engaged and encouraged to pilot in their work with the help of experts in educational technology and blended learning. The mutual project has enabled the applying of new apps and methods as well as sharing of experiences.
In our comparative study, the focus is on student experiences and opinions regarding iPads both in studies and leisure time. The students taught by project participants answered a questionnaire with both qualitative and quantitative question components giving results covering versatile topics such as benefits in formal and informal settings, self-expression, skill development, empowerment, potentials and problems in reference with iPads.
Our hypothesis is that as two different organizations and societies are in question, differences are expected; but also similar challenges and success is to be seen since educational opportunities might be scarce due to longer distances, unstable conditions or request for independent and flexible study paths when combining work and family life with studies. In the analysis of the answers, we discovered differences and similarities in the patterns of iPad usage, in the usefulness of the device, student experiences and opinions.
Given an iPad, a device to enhance learning mobility and to improve learning outcomes, offered students versatile means to experience the accessibility of people and information, to be able to share material and express themselves, to feel both empowered as well as self-regulated in the learning process. On the other hand, students felt challenged by the necessity of both more independent and collaborative learning combined with technological challenges especially when a more traditional teacher-led tuition in class was anticipated.
The results of the analysis will contribute to the future mutual cooperation of both universities as well as to the considerations of mobile teaching and learning options, pedagogical development of curriculum and chosen teaching approach in each university. Future research will parallel to student experience focus on teacher perception of applied blended learning methodology and experiences concerning applied educational technology, thriving rather than rivaling the learning process, guidance, collaboration, assessment and influence in a new way and altering the teacher role towards a facilitator of the learning process.
As handheld devices and internet connection accessible, the 21st century skills including the knowhow to apply new technology in all aspects including lifelong learning is an equitable resource. Thus, the use of modern technology accelerates the ongoing pedagogical revolution, a change inevitable in all societies allowing us global citizenship by justifying the right to express oneself and manifesting the right be seen and heard.