Students’ perceptions on the politics of mobile phones usage among learners

Crispen Bhukuvhani

Abstract


Besides the rapid proliferation of information technologies in the form of mobile communication devices and extensive mobile telecommunication networking and their potential to transform the curriculum, there has been a political and social debate in Zimbabwe as to whether it is good for school children to use mobile phones at school or not. The research study conveniently selected a class of forty-eight students on their views on the usefulness and effectiveness of smart mobile phones as form of educational technologies in their learning of science. The study was carried out at a rural secondary school in Plumtree district in Matabeleland South Province of Zimbabwe. Open-ended questionnaires, standardised semi-structured interviews and a science homework assignment were used to gather students’ views and the effectiveness of mobile phone usage in their science learning. Students with no mobile phone nor access to them were 40% (f=19) whilst 50% (f=24) borrowed from parents or guardians whenever they needed to use and 10% (f=5) only reported that they owned mobile phones. The students also reported that school authorities would confiscate the phones that are found in their possession. This is despite that the students view mobile phones as useful and handy for their science studies as they can access varied and most recent information. They also enable them to share information and collaborate among themselves. This, in part, solved the problem of the very limited information sources in the form of textbooks at the school. Students also felt that the use of mobile phones for learning instills a scientific and technological culture in them. The students were able to cite mobile phone applications and functionalities that could help them in their science learning. The most cited mobile applications were You Tube for accessing science lesson videos, Skype for video conferencing, Office tools for reading documents in Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and PDF, WiFi capability for connecting to the Internet for researching, and social media applications for information sharing. This research found out that mobile phone if used appropriately may enhance students’ learning. However, further research in this may illuminate on pedagogical issues for their effective and efficient use for learning.

Keywords


cience learning, mobile devices, educational technologies, science curriculum

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