In Our Hands: Designing for Mobile Devices

Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Two significant impacts on K–12 learning environments are the increasing diversity of learners and one-to-one learning environments. Over the last two decades, several large-scale, provincially-funded projects have supported one-to-one technology in education and equity in Alberta’s education system. For example, the iPad was appropriated by education at an unprecedented rate. This participatory action research study engaged fifth-grade students and their teacher in an exploration of their science learning and teaching with iPads as the one-to-one mobile device used. Two main types of action research cycles occurred: 1) technology and 2) teaching and learning. Multiple action research cycles were carried out concurrently to investigate: In what ways does the design of technology-enabled, inclusive learning environments impact teacher and student learning and agency in middle school? Data collection methods included focus groups, individual interviews, observations, researcher journaling, a survey, documents, and artifacts. Three process findings emerged through the student focus groups: challenges, customization, and choice. Seven impact findings were evident from the classroom observations and individual interviews: increased collaboration, improved student engagement, student empowerment, teacher empowerment, technology-enhanced learning environment, shifts in teachers’ perceptions of learners, and shifts in students’ perceptions. This study revealed that a technology-rich classroom does not automatically create a technology-enhanced learning environment. Systemic barriers mute the potential of one-to-one access. When the design of technology integration at both the school and school authority level creates significant barriers to effective student and teacher use of mobile devices as pedagogical tools, the ability of both teachers and students to act in new and innovative ways is thwarted. The inability to act in new and innovative ways makes it difficult for teachers and students to develop and exert their agency. The findings of this study imply that the potential of iPads is not being fully realized in the context of learning and teaching as well as provides insight on how iPads can be leveraged as pedagogical devices. Ten recommendations for educational stakeholders, including the Department of Education, educational leaders, teachers, and Faculties of Education, are presented to support a shift from technology-rich classrooms to technology-enhanced learning environments.
Mobile Devices, iPads, Participatory Action Research
Caissie, B. M. (2018). In our hands: Designing for mobile devices (Doctoral thesis, University of Calgary, Calgary, Canada). Retrieved from doi:10.11575/PRISM/5434