Doctor of Education
Dr. Ric Dressen
Dr. Laura Wangsness-Willemsen
Dr. John Braun
Mobile phones offer many features and functions that could potentially enhance and expand student learning. However, practitioners and scholars have identified several concerning issues commonly associated with extensive student mobile phone use. Those who engage in discussions of the potential role for mobile phones in the learning process face a difficult task in deciding whether the advantages of mobile phone use for students in schools outweigh the disadvantages.
This paper aims to contribute to that discussion by offering the perspectives of 11th and 12th grade students in a rural Minnesota community. This study featured a mixed methods research design. In the first part of the study, a group of participants (n=23) completed a survey detailing rates of mobile phone ownership, Internet accessibility, and experiences using mobile phones in schools. Participants reported a 100% ownership rate for mobile phones and Internet access at home, while 87% of participants rated their Internet connection as “reliable” or “very reliable”.
The second part of the study included small group discussions to explore student experiences and perceptions of mobile phone use in schools. Participants (n=11) expressed a desire for teachers not to make generalizations based on the actions of a handful of students. They also offered several examples of how they were using mobile phones effectively to engage in their learning. Finally, the participants encouraged collaboration between teachers and students and voiced support for teacher autonomy in the implementation of mobile phone use in classrooms.
Based on the data collected, recommendations have been made for teachers, administrators, and district policymakers who are considering implementation of mobile phones as tools for learning in their schools. This includes suggestions for teacher training and policy formation involving collaboration with students. Finally, with the Coronavirus Pandemic forcing mobile learning to the forefront of educational practice, recommendations have been offered for future research aiming to shift the focus from use and access of mobile devices towards effective implementation of mobile phones as a learning tool.