Currently I am working on a project for my Master’s degree – which probably brings back painful memories for some people. My problem is not struggling to find research, but narrowing down the research. Yesterday I literally spent three hours reading articles from the archives. Some of them were off topic, but I felt compelled to read the entire article.
The articles are inspiring, reassuring, and flattering. They inspire me to explore new technologies. The articles reassure me that I am still using best practice even though the medium has changed. This is especially important since my school focuses on ‘data driven decisions.’ Many times as teachers we just know what is best for our students, because that is our job, but it is really nice to have someone else do the work and publish their findings with data to prove it is the best choice for our students. The articles provide flattery since many of the technologies mentioned I have already found and incorporated in similar ways.
The current edition of the journal focuses on vocabulary. There was an article about using cell phones to study vocabulary. Since cell phones and iPod Touches made frequent appearances in my classroom this year, the title of the article captured my attention Using Mobile Phones for Vocabulary Activities: Examining the Effect of Platform.
There was a clear novelty effect, with the mobile phone being used for 17% of the first lesson, but only 3.2% of the last lesson, but the increases and decreases in use across the semester suggest that this was not the only factor contributing to choice of platform. Of interest was the fact that even those learners who did not use the mobile phone provided positive comments about the concept of learning through this platform, but nonetheless, it appears that their concerns outweighed the perceived benefits of using the mobile phone. These studies have suggested that while learners have a positive view of mobile learning, and feel that there are the potential benefits, not all students are willing to engage in it.
This was the finding of the study discussed in the article. Many of the points I agreed with. Students were much more enthusiastic about using cell phones initially. Generally, the enthusiasm died down for the students who had phones with limited or basic capabilities. My students still preferred to use their cell phones over a paper Spanish-English dictionary for word definitions – but anyone could do that texting the desired word to Google.
Students were still highly motivated to use their cell phones if they had Internet access and a Qwerty keyboard. Their interest was strong until the end. Students with iPhones and iPod Touches were more motivated to use their personal devices than any other group. Now that I have an iPod Touch, I understand where they are coming from.
However, given the choice between cell phone, desktop, or using the Interactive Whiteboard – the choice was clear. All the students wanted to interact with the Interactive Whiteboard. Cell phones are everyday objects, Interactive Whiteboards are special.
The article by Glenn Stockwell explained what I saw in my classroom, but it provided the unspoken rationale for why it was occurring. It was one of the many great reads I’ve enjoyed in the Language Learning & Technology journal and I highly recommend it.