TRANSFORMING LEARNING WITH MOBILE TECHNOLOGY: LESSONS LEARNT FROM A FACULTY WIDE PROJECT
University of Westminster (UNITED KINGDOM)
About this paper:
Conference name: 10th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 7-9 March, 2016
Location: Valencia, Spain
Abstract:In September 2015, the University of Westminster’s Faculty of Science and Technology began transforming its learning by providing over 2000 staff and second and third year undergraduate students with I-Pads. This ambitious project comes with a multitude of challenges encompassing technology, regulations, distribution, legal aspects, but above all else its success relies on staff and students choosing to adopt the technology and adapt their practice. Here, we present an overview of the project so far, with a review of what has been learnt to date and the journey ahead of us. We will present current approaches to adapting teaching to include mobile technology, such as Puentedura’s 2006 SAMR model for introducing technology into the classroom, and we will explore some of the barriers to change e.g. Karsenti & Fievez (2013).
As noted by Thibert (2012), we should not be assessing the impact of technologies on outcomes; instead we should be looking at the teaching and learning conditions in which the technologies are being used. Many studies have illustrated that the teacher is key to the successful pedagogical integration of technology (e.g. Fourgous, 2012), and this requires a dynamic community of practice to share and develop practical classroom ideas. It’s with these issues in mind that the University of Westminster’s Faculty of Science and Technology embarked on deploying mobile devices to all staff and students in time for September 2015.
The project was initially divided into 6 working groups each addressing a different strategic aspect, including tender, user engagement, policies, content and research and evaluation. A project steering board formed of the group leads and representatives from staff, students and key stakeholder university services meets bi-monthly. In addition, each working group meets regularly to operationalize each aspect of the roll out. Despite a very tight time frame of 9 months from initial bid to full roll out, the project has now successfully completed the first semester of teaching.
Here we present an overview of the operational strategies and procedures the team put in place to successfully reach the end of phase 1 of the project, along with a reflection on the lessons learnt along the way. The project began in January 2015, with a bid to tender in April 2015, initial roll out to 250 staff in July 2015 and roll out to over 2000 students in September 2015. The size of the project has brought a number of critical issues, including contractual issues with the provider, infrastructure issues such as ensuring that all classrooms have a suitable wifi coverage, a procedure for tracking and monitoring student eligibility to iPads, ongoing training for staff and students and ongoing technical support, each of which will be discussed.
Keywords: IPads, strategy, learning and teaching, faculty, science, mobile learning, staff development.