THE SURGE OF MOBILE TECHNOLOGY USE BY FEMALE STUDENTS IN TWO GULF UNIVERSITIES
Tertiary students’ perceptions of technology and learning are rapidly changing. Learning technologies, tools and applications, are being used in new ways in and outside the EFL classroom. The proposed study describes the current findings of a comparative study of first and final year female learners in two classroom at two UAE Higher Education Institutions as support and requests funding for expansion to a broader investigation of the area focusing on the instructors and students within two Gulf Universities.The use of technology in learning has been an area of high interest and focus in language learning and teaching for some time. However much of the research presented has been specific to a particular learning environment or subject areas. Little has been reported on how Middle Eastern Female students perceive technology in their own learning and how they are applying technological tools and applications in both their learning and real life contexts . This paper describe how these students often termed as (unique or isolated) have like other students around the world, have grabbed the wheel of technology and are developing at a much faster rate than perhaps educational institutions can plan for. ESL learners graduating with degrees from UAE higher education institutions are rapidly applying new technologies in their learning both in and outside the classroom. At present a typical technology friendly learning environment might provide smart boards, laptops and overhead projectors but these tools are rapidly becoming only part of what learners are using on a daily basis. Students are coming to class equipped with their own tools and communication devices like cell phones, cameras, iPods , PDA and laptops are being used in increasing sophisticated ways and for diverse communication purposes. In the past, Internet searches, electronic grading, email services were the applications of a high-technology classroom. Recently however there has been a surge of change with a wide variety of new technologies that provide real time collaborative communication, social bookmarking, presentation options and information sharing being independently applied by UAE students. Surprisingly, the amount of portable technology use reported to be connected to learning situations such as cell phone features was quite large. (usage feature - respondent number that uses it) : 1) 28/28 100% sms texting, 2) 18/28 64% time management, 3) 9/28 is 32% websufing, 4) 8/28 28% reading e-books, 5) 10/28 35% internet, 6) 10/28 35% email, 7) 4/28 14% posting to blog, 8)15/28 53.5% chatting, 9) 19/28 picture sharing 67%, 10) 20/28 71% information sharing, 11) 13/28 46% playing educational games. A hundred percent reported using their phones for sms texting or communicating in text as well as voice. Across the group 35 % used their phones to email and although all of the students reported on the various functions they used on their cell phones they were reluctant to describe classroom use. Highlighting the impact of educational settings and teachers’ perceptions of technologies on students use of technologies in learning contexts.