Friday, October 1, 2010

Mobile computing and the teaching landscape: a relationship worth exploring


By Jessica McCurdy Crooks

Mobile computing is the new frontier in technology. When it comes to imparting knowledge, especially to today's always on-the-go population, few technologies offers the range of possibilities the way mobile computing does.

Just about everyone has some device that is part of the mobile computing world, be it a smartphone, cell phone, tablet PC, iPad, MP3 player or laptop -- and many people have more than one mobile device. The benefits of these mobile devices are already being utilized in the work world and in the world of home consumer electronics, so why not in the learning world as well?

The challenges of brining mobile devices into education

Many educators are supportive of the idea of utilizing mobile computing in various fields of study. In fact, the release of new devices is often met with great fanfare by teachers and students alike.

Some universities already have programs specifically designed to make use of iPods, netbooks and Kindles. The current hot ticket, the iPad, is being closely watched by teaching professionals and industry insiders alike. Its portability, storage capacity, and typical array of Apple-designed features make it an attractive option, especially for students.


Understandably naysayers have expressed concerns about potential distractions from using these devices. Wireless connectivity means that students can access anything they want at any time, including time that should be devoted to learning.

Some students simply would not be able to resist the temptation to go off-topic, so to speak. No wonder some educators have already voiced disapproval of what could possibly revolutionize the education landscape.


Plagiarism is another potentially vexing issue as far as mobile computing in the classroom is concerned. This is already being faced, not just by university lecturers, but also high school teachers.

Are educators really up to the challenge of tackling the problems associated with mobile computing in the classroom? The best solution is to have clearly defined parameters for the use of mobile computing devices in the classroom.


From a purely technical standpoint, there is some worry about possible conflict between the various mobile computing devices. In fact, Apple's iPad was singled out for its Enhanced Data Rate (EDR) with Bluetooth. It is felt that other device users could experience problems when in close proximity to iPad users.

Apple critics are also quick to point out that the iPad's lack of an external keyboard makes it less than ideal for the classroom setting. Whether this is as significant as some believe is still open to discussion.