Learning through A Constructivist Approach with Mobile Device (#mlearning)
The paper on “mobile learning through indigenous languages: learning through a constructivist approach“(Creative Commons BY 3.0 licence) written by Mmaki Jantjies and Mike Joy reports on a case study in a South African high school that evaluated the potential use of mobile learning to support bilingual learners using a constructivist learning approach.
With their research they provide a possible solution to work around bilingual students (in this case African languages) and how this can be used to increase learning overall by allowing students to support themselves and use multilingual communication through mobile devices, and at the same time allow teachers to create solutions for the bilingual challenges.
An increase in accessible electronic pedagogy available in African languages is vital in extending learning resources to resource constrained schools and multilingual communities. The lack of appropriate mobile and electronic resources in these contexts often limits learners from participating in the digital age and discovering knowledge through technology. South Africa, used as the context for this study, has eleven official languages and promotes their use for education in schools. There are however limited bilingual resources that support bilingual education. The different challenges, such as the limited resources that enable an effective learning environment, often make it difficult for teachers to create new learning environments that embrace technology in classrooms.
This paper presents a case study that evaluates the potential use of mobile learning to support the current informal
learning process for resource constrained multilingual high school learners. In the study learners created their own audio based bilingual learning material on mobile phones using a constructivist learning approach, in the subject area of physical science. A total of 32 high school learners and their teacher from a South African school participated in the study, and though semi–structured interviews and questionnaires learners reported on their experiences. Infrastructure challenges, including limited access to free electronic resources, and slow and expensive Internet access, became the main hurdles in supporting a constructivist learning environment. The mobile learning process however gave learners an opportunity to create their learning content in their own languages at any location at any time, and use the content later for revision.
The data from this research revealed that mobile learning can be effective in supporting constructivism approaches used in informal bilingual learning. The challenge was, however, using the technology to support this traditional approach without seeing technology as a distraction in the learning process. In this study, a large percentage of the learners seemed to prefer using both mobile phones and text books to create knowledge and learning material. Their preference for the textbook as their main source of learning material seemed to stem from the challenges they faced when accessing electronic learning content. Even though mobile learning provided an ubiquitous learning environment, learners still preferred a blended learning approach of using both traditional sources of learning content and modern methods to create their knowledge. There seemed to be a lack of exposure to free and online mobile learning material and the use of the Internet to seek knowledge.
After interacting with the mobile learning system, learners were motivated to seek learning material from other resources as they found their own learning material created using different sources to be easier to understand compared in comparison with their text book notes. The benefit of being able to learn on the mobile phone was highlighted by learners as they reflected how they enjoyed their trial experience of ubiquitous learning.
The design and development of personal learning content for learners also shifted the responsibility of the teacher to the learner allowing learners to create their own mobile learning environments. Through mobile phones, learners have had a personal environment that has allowed them to truly express their understanding of the topic area in a language that they could best relate to. The learners felt they could relate to their personal notes and were also open to expressing challenges where they felt they did not understand allowing them to reflect on their learning activities (Shih and Mills, 2007). In this activity, learners were allowed to construct notes based on their understanding from their personal perspectives and information gathered from different sources based on the class topic. Therefore, learners could not have identical reflections on the paths of creating their learning content (Boghossian, 2006).
In conclusion, the opportunity of being able to create material in their own languages on their own mobile phones, at their own time allowed learners to create learning material that they could relate to and engage with at any time. The learners found this very useful for assessment purposes. The teacher also found the experience useful as they could access the audio learning material to monitor the understanding of learners, verify the learning content and ensure it was relevant to their learning curriculum