İngilizce öğretmenleri mobil öğretime bağlanıyor - English language teachers connect to mobile learning

10/11/2010 00:00:00
İngilizce öğretmenleri mobil öğretime

Apple's iPhone has caused arevolutionin the way weinteractwith mobile phones andaccessthe internet. With early sales of the new iPad breaking records, and manypunditspredictingthat this will be the educational mobiledevicetotransformthe classroom and make e-textbooks accessible to students (who can afford an iPad), I decided to have a look at how mobile devices areimpactingon thepracticeof English language teaching.

In June Ilaunchedan online survey to discover how teachers viewed the use of mobile learning, how many of them had access toweb-enabledmobiles and tofind outif and how they were using them.

My first surprise was the number of teachers who could already access the internetviatheir mobile phones.Almost80% of the 500 teachers who responded to the surveyclaimedto have some form of web-enabled mobile device. When asked whether teachers planned to buy a mobile device in the near future, almost 60% responded positively, with 50% planning to buy either an iPhone or an iPad.

It would be easy toassumethat the teachers responding to the questionnaire were all of the younger generation of "digitalnatives", but this isn't thecase. Almost 80% of teachers who responded had 10 or more years of teaching experience and more than 60% werequalifiedto master's level or higher.

And the data was not onlycollectedfrom the more technically developed and richer countries. The responses show awidegeographicalspreadfrom across South America, to Asia and eastern Europe.

Having a devicecapableof accessing mobile internet, however, is very different from having the ability andwillingnessto use it as atoolfor teaching. Again, themajorityof teachers who responded were very positive about the potential of mobile learning. More than 70% agreed that mobile learning would play an important role in the future of English language teaching, with only 6.7% disagreeing (theremainderwereunsure).

Astriking34% of respondents claimed to be already using mobile learning with their students.

Accessing dictionaries, either online or dictionary applications they had downloaded, was acommonactivity. Many teachers areenthusiasticabout this because it means that students don't have to carry around heavy dictionaries and also because the dictionaries they are accessing often have audio examples of pronunciation.

Podcasts are also popular and teachers are finding and recommending podcast materials for the students to download and listen to. Some are creating their own podcasts with their students.

Many are also using the video or audio recording capabilities of their phones to get students to record themselves or each other during speaking and pronunciation activities.

Teachers' use of mobile isn'tlimitedto the more expensive smart phones. Many are also using simple phones with SMS texting capability toenhancelearning. These are used to send quick quiz questions to students to help themreviseor check their understanding of new vocabulary.

Many are sending their students definitions of vocabulary and expressions as they learn them. Some teachers are even sending their students gapped sentences for them to complete to check their grammar.

But this is only half of the 70% of teachers who claim they and their students have access to the technology. So, what isholding backthe rest?

Theobstaclesmentioned are cost, mainly charges for mobile connectivity, and worries about students or the teachers themselves having to pay to access their mobile course materials. Another problem is thevarietyof different mobile devices being used by students and the fact that not all students have them. Last, and possibly the most significant, is the lack of available content specifically designed for language learning.

Whereasteachers and students seem willing toembracethis technology, ELT publishers arelaggingbehind. Services such as iTunes now provide simple payment and distribution platforms as well as the digital rights security that should allow publishers to start to generatelarge scaleonline sales of e-products at much lower prices (their dmany mobile applications cost between 10% to 20% of desktopequivalents). Yet the response from many publishers has been slow. This is the ideal time for publishers to jump on the mobile wave and startdeliveringinteractive andaffordablemobile content.

Nik Peachey is a freelance learning technology consultant and teacher trainer. For more information about the survey go to

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