Learners and Mobile Devices

Key Findings and Practical Strategies for Learning and Teaching with Mobile Devices

The central aim of the project was to explore the potential benefits for student learning with mobile devices, through a focus on supporting practitioners, and developing their digital capability through local communities of practice and collaborative online networks across partner institutions. This study aimed to bring together key findings and practical strategies for teachers and institutions for learning and teaching with mobile devices.
The rest of this report will present voices from scholarship on mobile learning and Kaupapa Māori pedagogies in the form of the He Whare Ako He Whare Hangarau framework. Furthermore, chapters will be presented that look at the implementation of communities of practice for supporting professional learning; voices from learners in the form of the learner survey and the voices of the practitioners through reflections and summations of their own implementation of mobile technologies across a range of contexts and institutions.
From this euphony of voices, we bring together some key findings and practical strategies for teachers and institutions to consider and provide these upfront in this report to highlight and emphasise their importance to this project. Furthermore, tangible strategies are what this project was funded for and are what practitioners will benefit most from. It is intended that presenting these strategies at the beginning of this report will encourage further inquiry and investigation by readers, who, we hope, will seek clarification, context and understanding through the following chapters in this work.

Key Findings and Practical Strategies for Teachers

The project’s focus on supporting practitioners and developing their digital capabilities, and the strength of the practitioner voice throughout this report has formed some key practical strategies on learning and teaching with mobile devices. These are described here as six key findings:
  1. Teachers should have access to the mobile devices that their learners do.
  2. Teachers should have their technological and pedagogical development supported through a community of practice model.
  3. Teachers should be empowered to experiment with new tools and not be afraid to fail
  4. The mobile device should be approached as part of a shift in pedagogy and assessment where technology is integrated with good teaching practice and learning theory.
  5. A close collaborative and inclusive learning environment enables teachers to work alongside learners with the implementation of mobile devices.
  6. The use of mobile devices allows for engagement both inside and outside the classroom
The following section expands on these six key findings and provides contextual evidence found from across the report to support these statements.

1.    Teachers should have access to mobile devices that their learners do.

A fundamental starting point of this project was that all the participating practitioners would be equipped with mobile devices, in this case iPad Minis and iPhones, so that they had access to devices that were the same as, or similar to those that their students have access to. The learner survey showed us that 99.43% of the students surveyed had access to mobile devices like this (including laptops). The practitioners reflecting on getting the devices as being a key part of the learning journey,

As part of the larger project, we were given an iPhone and an iPad mini for personal and professional use to develop confidence in using the tools.  This was pivotal to my learning by helping me to develop confidence in using mobile devices which became integrated into my practice (Kelly Bigwood, UoA).

This was mirrored in another practitioner’s reflection who notes that the “provision of mobile devices” was one of three parts of her “sticking with it.” (Amanda Lees, AUT). This provision enabled teachers to experience and understand the technology so that they could get a sense of where their students were at and how their pedagogical shifts would cater to their students and mobile devices. Other practitioners’ noted the importance of having access to suitable devices to enable them to learn about effective use of mobile devices (Maureen Perkins, Lee-Ann Turton, Unitec). Equipping practitioners with mobile devices was not enough; a certain level of support was needed for their technological and pedagogical development – this is where communities of practice became critical to practitioner capability with mobile devices.

2.    Teachers should have their technological and pedagogical development supported in a community of practice model. 

A commonly found issue in the integration of mobile devices into teaching and learning practice was a lack of knowledge and expertise by teachers in using the technology, specifically in learning and teaching contexts. One of AUT’s coordinators on this project identified in earlier research the need for Communities of Practice (CoP) as a way of equipping staff with the tools and networks to enable them to learn about and use technologies (Cochrane, 2014). The CoP was a large part of the project, with an overarching online project CoP and local CoPs within most of the institutions. The importance of the CoP was referenced across the majority of practitioners’ reflections on the project noting two key insights:The creation of a social framework where practitioners work together, with the guidance or access to a ‘digital steward’ or ‘coach’ to share practice and work collaboratively was another key point reflected on by practitioners as being key to their learning journey with mobile devices. This fell into two parts: the technological support through a digital coach, and the support of the practitioners’ colleagues.
It was found through the practitioner reflections that it is essential that lecturers and tutors are well supported as they come to grips with the technological aspects of m-learning. In particular, this involved sustained support from staff with technical expertise, as discussed by Wenger, White, & Smith (2009). Practitioners noted the value of having ‘technology steward /digital coaches to support lecturers’ professional learning and that it was key to the CoP approach,

Our coach met with us on a regular basis and it was really small steps, cumulative, and I think there is a lesson about working with mature people who don’t have much experience with apps and digital equipment. There are real benefits to having a mature, patient coach for more mature academics because that makes it accessible and we are willing to keep coming back if we get affirmation on a small scale (Amanda Lees, AUT).

This links closely to the social space where practitioners were encouraging their colleagues not directly involved in this project) to be part of the journey and that “having a ‘buddy’ to maintain the digital connection” (Amanda Lees, AUT) was critical for professional learning.
Collegiality amongst the CoPs was also an important part of the process, as practitioners felt that they needed to share ideas, successes and failures and through sharing those experiences, people were able to learn off and through each other's experiences,

It was a wonderful opportunity as a Community of Practice here with five other people who basically provided a support mechanism to bounce our ideas off. [As] we were coming to grips with the nuts and bolts of what we were doing in our individual projects, we were able to share both successes, some of the huge triumphs, some of the failures - there were a few of those - to enhance our own understanding but also to develop an improved sense of delivery and engagement for our student teachers (Paul Neveldsen, UoA)


Being part of communities of practice (both the support from the wider project and our own faculty community of practice).  As a faculty community of practice we meet weekly to up-skill, share ideas, read, support and challenge each other. (Kelly Bigwood, UoA)


Our weekly COP discussions enabled me to think through and clearly articulate the pedagogical intentions of the redesign, to test ideas, assess different apps, and draw upon the lessons learned by my teaching peers who had already delivered their first curriculum redesign (Toni Bruce, UoA)

Practitioners noted that their engagement with technology also influenced other staff members outside of this project to experiment with technologies and rethink their own pedagogies,

As practitioners, we get stuck in our ways and don’t necessarily adapt and change as quickly as we could or should. Being part of this project allowed me to influence other staff to try out new things with technology to make processes much easier and more efficient (Monika Merriman, MU)

Practitioners noted the CoPs as being central to their own development and learning so that those skills could enable them to engage with their students through technologies and adopt new practices for teaching. The CoPs also posed challenges for some practitioners, namely the demands on time and having enough time to effectively engage in these sorts of professional development.
Time poor
The common issue for teachers engaging with mobile devices was that of time, the time investment for professional development was challenging however, the CoP provided opportunities to share, talk and as one practitioner notes, be accountable to each other,

Finding time continued to be a challenge, but being in the community of practice meant we were accountable to each other.  Without the weekly meetings I would not have been as committed to the change in practice due to the constant challenge of finding time (Kelly Bigwood, UoA)

It takes time to analyse situations and learners, play, explore and gain new skills, incorporate them into the course, design the assessment, develop the resources and make time for learners to engage with what you have designed (Adrienne Moyle, UoA)

The CoP approach allows for a safe and collegial space to explore and learn for teachers grappling with the integration of mobile devices into learning and teaching. For some practitioners, it enabled them to have a community of like-minded teachers also using the technologies and to be guided by a coach/expert. However, being time poor and responding to demanding roles and responsibilities as lecturers meant that many people were not able to fully engage and participate in the CoPs due to their time restrictions. Having adequate time for professional development is critical for practitioners and becomes an institutional issue and consideration. Through increased time to focus on one's capability as a teacher, learner experiences can be enhanced.

3.    Teachers should be empowered to experiment with new tools and not be afraid to fail 

The creation of a safe space where ‘failures’ or ‘mistakes’ could be made without fear as part of a learning journey was of great importance to practitioners. It was of key importance to practitioners to develop a mindset of not being afraid to fail - having no shame to make mistakes and treating these experiences as learning and lessons, “it is through making mistakes and not getting things quite right, that we were presented with the more powerful and memorable learning experiences.” (Amanda Lees, AUT). As the CoP progresses, small learnings are made through successes and failures, this is also a key value that practitioners adopt in the classroom with their own students in that failure is not necessarily a negative thing, but there are key lessons to be learnt in failing, “Even if the tech fails on all counts you will still have been learning.” (Rena Heap, UoA).
Failure along with success was part of the learning journey and the CoP provided a space to experiment with the technology and learn within the community. Central to creating a safe space and environment to learn is not being judgemental and encouraging people to give it a go (Stephanie Day, Donna Foxall and Michael Verhaart, EIT). As part of the He Whare Ako, He Whare Hangarau Framework, some of the key values embedded in that framework emulate these notions of creating safe learning spaces for both teachers and learners. Spaces that are conducive to positive affirmations, acknowledgement of achievements and ensuring that failures are not judged, put down or ridiculed, but they are also acknowledged and learnt from. Thus, these are findings that can be also applied to the technological development of learners, which their teachers can model and support it.

4.    The mobile devices should be approached as part of a shift in pedagogy and assessment where technology is integrated with good teaching practice and learning theory. 

All participating lecturers and tutors made changes in their practice because of their growing familiarity with mobile devices. Through working in local CoPs and individually, practitioners detailed a wide range of pedagogical changes in their reflections including: 
With the integration of mobile devices into learning and teaching it was acknowledged by some practitioners that the mobile device was not a standalone tool that on its own would transform learning, rather that it played role in the wider application of their pedagogies. Theory and evidence was also critical for many practitioners, ensuring that pedagogy led the technology, rather than technology leading pedagogy.

…it is not just about the technology. It is important to consider the learning activities that students will be engaged with to ensure that any use of emerging technology is fostered and allows for collaborative learning and sharing (Rachel Byars, OP)

…the use of technology was integrated into the planning in order to enhance learning. Every action was justified in terms of enhancing learning, so using the digital technology became a way of working for the lecture and for the students.  There has been an ontological shift and there is no going back to the way things were (Kelly Bigwood, UoA) 

Along with the ability to shift formative assessment, there was also ability to give immediate and ongoing feedback on project work and assessments. This is a key benefit noted by some of the practitioners,

Mobile devices and project management tools allow for constant feedback and discussion with students on their work especially in project and studio based courses (Ben Kenobi, AUT)

It really helps out our students as the comments that are generated from their work are sent to them instantly, so they are always informed about their progress within the course, in real time. It’s made a completely different way of doing things for me… What this new process has done for students is reduced the time to write and submit the reports, it hasn’t reduced the quality of the reports (Monika Merriman, MU)

As part of embedding mobile devices with good practice, a continued focus on pedagogy and good practice is integral. While practitioners acknowledged the enhanced functionality of using technology in these ways, there was also a strong sense of ensuring that quality was not being compromised and that checks and balances were put in place.
There was considerable emphasis on providing scaffolding for learners into using technology within a learning setting. Practitioners recognised that not all of their students had access to, or knew how to use mobile devices.  Scaffolding, encouraging and supporting students to learn about appropriate uses of m-devices for learning was an important consideration,

We have signs in all the lecture rooms that tell students not to use their mobile devices so my first move was to tell students to ignore these signs if I was in the room. I wanted to create a class environment where mobile device use was encouraged (Daniel Thomas, MU)

Students were reluctant to use mobile devices in class as they had previously been taught that they should be put away in order to learn (Elise Allen, OP).

Through understanding the needs of learners, practitioners were able to adjust their pedagogical approaches to cater and accommodate the learner. Through working together and alongside each other, learners and practitioners are learning from each other.

5.    A close collaborative and inclusive learning environment enables practitioners to work alongside learners with the implementation of mobile devices.

As discussed in the previous strategy, the importance of working alongside learners is critical to learner success. Close collaborative, inclusive learning environments enable practitioners to work alongside learners and allow for frequent feedback from the learner on the integration of mobile devices and for the co-construction of knowledge between learners’ and between learners and teachers. This strategy connects to He Whare Ako He Whare Hangarau framework and the key concept of ako, meaning both to learn and to teach. The term is interchangeable and represents the notion that teaching and learning is a reciprocal process where learners learn from the teacher and teachers may also learn from the learner.
Practitioners recognised the importance of asking students what works best for them and how technology could enhance the process of learning, and through this process, learners also determine how pedagogies are shaped and implemented to help their own unique styles of learning,

We told students that we were trying this out. We asked them what worked and what didn’t. We thought carefully about what the learning aims were, what our students could already do, where we might take them, how would we get there, and used mobile learning as a tool to support those aims. Students came up with useful apps to incorporate into their learning (Adrienne Moyle, UoA)

The approach ensured that students became collaborative partners in the learning process. The close collaborative teaching approach enabled the team members to elicit regular student feedback on the learning process and the use of technology in the tutorial sessions. This helped the team to evaluate and revisit teaching elements of the paper on an ongoing basis (Culture and Society, AUT)

The learning should inform the selection of tools used to mediate a task and that it is not necessarily the educator’s role to prescribe this, rather than allow the students to choose (Rachel Byars, OP)

This indicates that, not only is the learning at the heart of the implementation of mobile devices, but that the student voice and student feedback is an essential part of the implementation and development of the use of mobile devices in learning and teaching. This is closely linked with the inclusive learning environment, where a values base of caring, welcoming and empowering students and developing the relationship of trust between the learner and the teacher, and the learner with the rest of the learning community is key enhancing learner experiences. As part of enhancing learner experiences, Māori values are interwoven into pedagogy, whakawhanaungatanga (the process of establishing relationships) where practitioners sought opportunities through collaborating with learners to establish genuine relationships with them, establishing connections and making learners to “feel comfortable, confident and competent working both face-to-face and online, in the digital spaces” (Mandia Mentis and Wendy Holley-Boen, MU).

6.    The use of mobile devices allows for engagement both inside and outside the classroom

Learning occurs beyond the classroom and practitioners in this project found that mobile devices enabled their learners to engage with and access relevant information and resources from the course, while at home or away from the classroom. This level of access greatly increased a majority of learners ability to choose the best times for them to learn (in and around their own busy schedules, family life and work). 97.15% of the learners surveyed used a mobile device outside of the classroom for various learning activities e.g. personalising their own learning, research, assessments and assignments and the LMS.
Along with learning beyond the classroom, it was found that learners also have the ability to use and become familiar with technologies currently being used in key spaces, working environments or communities that learners are aspiring to become a part of, i.e. online global communities of medical specialists that the Interdisciplinary CoP from AUT University were accessing and engaging with through Twitter,

In lectures they are actually live tweeting specialists from all around the world and asking questions and getting tweets back in the actual lectures from these medical specialists and it is just something we haven’t had before (Interdisciplinary Community of Practice, AUT).

As one student put it, “I feel ‘more connected’ to the online group of educators who share information for the good of a worldwide group of educators.” (Toni Bruce, UoA)

The use of mobile devices to access course content and resources can lead to increased engagement both inside and outside the classroom and assists student familiarity with the technologies currently being used in the business environment (Ben Kenobi, AUT)


Key Findings and Recommendations for Institutions 

The above six strategies not only benefit practitioners, but also are recommended for institutions to consider. In addition, there are key findings and recommendations specific to institutions listed here. It was found that the institution and institutional leaders must consider strategies and policies that enable teachers and learners to explore, use and implement mobile devices in learning and teaching. Institutions might consider the following:
  1. Teachers should have access to mobile devices that their learners do.
  2. There should be robust infrastructure to support current needs as well as encouraging innovation and experimentation with new technology and spaces.
  3. There should be a robust digital strategy that accounts for the needs of the implementation of mobile devices, access to mobile devices by learners and how users and considers values that are often overlooked in policy and strategy.

1.    Teachers should have access to mobile devices that their learners do.

As discussed with regards to strategies for teachers, access to mobile devices is critical to enabling teachers to transform, shift and enhance their pedagogies. Without access to these devices and the trust built through communities of practice, practitioners would not have been able to experiment, explore and implement mobile devices into their teaching. Therefore, institutions are urged to consider how they can resource their teachers to being equipped with appropriate mobile devices, training and support to enhance mobile learning and learner experiences
Of equal importance is ensuring that learners are provided equal access to appropriate mobile devices to support and enhance their learning experiences. It was found that 99.43% of learners had access to at least one mobile device (laptop, smartphone or tablet), however, with a focus on an inclusive, equitable and collaborative learning environment, the 0.57% need to be considered and not disadvantaged. Institutions should consider how they might provide access to appropriate mobile devices for both learners and teachers to enable mobile learning to happen.

Not all students had an appropriate device or were willing to bring them to class so it would not be relied on that all students would have their own device. Sharing devices was encouraged and the classroom PC was used to supplement access (Kathryn Mac Callum, EIT).

Students were responsible for acquiring their own iPad, however, the departments involved provided support through the arrangement of special deals, access to technical support and a loan device scheme for those in need...The course coordinator of Business Statistics developed a set of multi-touch eBooks using iBooks Author and made these freely available to students in place of expensive textbooks in order to offset the initial cost of the iPads. (Wajira Dassanayake & James Oldfield, Unitec)

This is access and variety of access needs to be considered at an institution and institution leadership level for both staff and students and across the multitude of contexts within the higher education context.

2.    There should be robust infrastructure to support current needs as well as encouraging innovation and experimentation with new technology and spaces 

A critically important factor for institutions is that of appropriate technical infrastructure and its ability to support new initiatives:Support for technological and professional development with mobile devices has been discussed in detail with regards to the CoP model. While practitioners individually discussed what infrastructure improvements were required at their specific institution, broadly speaking across the six institutions was a focus on Wi-Fi capability and robustness.  Without appropriate Wi-Fi capability, practitioners were unable to meet their objectives within mobile learning, often being put on the spot in front of learners where technology had failed due to the institutions infrastructure. This put immense pressure on practitioners, creating awkward situations and leaving some practitioners turned off from engaging in mobile learning,

One of the major problems with us has been connecting wirelessly… wifi has kept dropping in and out and has, it would be fair to say, become a deal breaker for most of our students and staff. Therefore, the biggest take home lessons of using mobile devices via wifi is that you need a robust system and you need a system with enough bandwidth and enough IT support to be reliable otherwise people give up on it (Ross Brannigan, AUT)

We had a network outage so with that meant that even those who had their devices in the room couldn’t access the information. There is some work to be done behind the scenes in and around that and highlighted a few things perhaps about our readiness to be able to deal with blended learning in a prototype space (Nikki Timu, Unitec)

Although the field trip was organised and the activities prepared, there was a sense of nervousness that maybe the institutional wifi would let us down, the remote students may not engage, or that the various technologies would let us down (Stephanie Day and Michael Verhaart, EIT)

Out here on our building site we have just had radio WiFi put in which gives a far better coverage The Wi-Fi has been a real battle right from the start of this project but over the last 24 months with we have now had that improved. Constant checking and sometimes if the whole class logs on at once it doesn't seem to work. The IT department has assured me that this is all worked out now (Matt Thompson, OP)

Significant problems with device connectivity were faced at times despite major improvements to our wireless infrastructure. Learnings from these events have helped us to continue to improve our network (James Oldfield, Unitec)

Clearly, there is a real need for institutions to ensure that they have robust infrastructure for a wide range of learning spaces that require Wi-Fi capability. Institutions can consider and review their own digital policies and strategies that encompass flexible infrastructure and support for innovative learning and teaching development in both the mobile and digital learning space.

3.    There should be a robust digital strategy that accounts for the needs of the implementation of mobile devices, access to mobile devices by learners and how values can underpin policy and strategy. 

He Whare Ako, He Whare Hangarau framework discusses the importance of key values underpinning practice. While the values are termed in the Maori language, they are values that are universal and accessible by any practitioner. Whakawhanaungatanga is about establishing relationships and connections with learners that are meaningful and genuine; Manaakitanga is about looking after learners, creating a space that is welcoming, safe and non-threatening; such values guide practitioners in developing their own pedagogy. The framework offers tangible strategies that guide practitioners to incorporating values into their mobile learning pedagogies and will greatly assist institutions to developing their own robust digital strategies.
Practitioners commented on the need for robust digital strategies for their institutions to ensure that there is an emphasis on mobile learning and a support for mobile devices, resourcing and capability. Strategies should also consider Maori and Pacific learners through culturally responsive and enhancing pedagogies and incorporating values and notions from He Whare Ako, He Whare Hangarau to enhance their mobile and digital strategic vision and direction. 

Recommendations from the Learner Voices

A survey was conducted with over 350 learners to hear the voices and views of learners across the six institutions. From this rich set of data, findings emerged and four of them are presented here for consideration by practitioners (and are further detailed and elaborated on in the ‘Learner Survey’ chapter). These findings are recommendations on how teachers and institutions can respond to the needs of learners with regards to m-learning.

1.    Learners note that the main advantages of mobile devices are 24/7 access to information and resources, and personal organisation of learning.

Learners identified multiple and diverse advantages for their learning in being encouraged to use their personal mobile devices. In particular, learners commented on the accessibility of mobile devices any time of the day or night. Mobile devices were noted as convenient, easy to use and able to store key information relevant to social, cultural and educational contexts. Mobile devices also enabled learners to keep up to date and provided the ability to personalise and organise one’s own learning:

“It's there when we need it”

“You can store your own information, and can share what you have gathered with your group mates.”

“Easy access to a greater variety of resources”

“Can look for things quickly instead of forgetting to look up thing later on.”

“I can learn the way I learn, not how someone else learns”

“We are able to personalise the way we learn/use devices based on what we feel is the best way for us to do so.”

Recommendation: Teachers and institutions must consider the multiple advantages and uses of mobile devices (social, cultural, educational) and that learners are using mobile devices in many different aspects of their everyday lives. Teachers can consider how their practice encourages learner use of mobile devices both inside and outside of the classroom (24/7).

2.    Learners note the potential of mobile devices to distract from learning tasks, to take away from interactions, technology or the network failing, and possible inequities.

In contrast to the advantages of mobile devices, the vast majority of students focused on one key disadvantage - distraction or the ‘misuse’ of mobile devices. Alongside distraction there were some other, less mentioned, disadvantages, including devices being impersonal, technology/network failures, and possible inequities the use of mobile devices for learning may cause. This is expressed in the following quotes:

“Having a personal device can be distracting at times. But that teaches students self-discipline.”

“easy to get onto personal things like facebook and miss what is going on in class”

“Loose person to person learning, harder to bounce ideas off each other via personal mobile devices”

“Information can get lost/deleted easily/accidentally. Technology doesn't always work there a forever gliches in systems/programs.”

“If study resources are solely available to those with a personal mobile device, other students are put at a disadvantage- Don't assume everybody has one”

Distraction, as a disadvantage of the use of mobile devices in learning, was discussed by two of the practitioners in this project as well who addressed the issue by modelling the use of the device for learning by providing formal learning activities that utilised it and encouraging students to use their devices despite their previous learning experiences where they may have been discouraged.
Learners are also experiencing issues with Wi-Fi and network outages, affecting their learning experiences - similar to that of practitioners’ being distracted in their teaching due to technologies issues. This is more emphasis for institutions to strengthen their networks and Wi-Fi to ensure that connectivity is quality.

While only 0.57% of learners surveyed did not own a mobile device, it is recognised that this is still an advantage for some learners. Removing other student costs to offset the cost of purchasing a device and access to PCs that would provide the same access is important to ensure that all learners have equal opportunities to access mobile devices and engage in m-learning.

Recommendation: Institutions in particular should consider how their digital and technology strategies are equipping learners with the appropriate technology to effectively engage and participate in learning contexts and environments, including m-learning. Without access to mobile devices, learners are disadvantaged.

3.    Learners value teachers that enthuse, challenge and transform thinking while caring, supporting, and acknowledging the whole student and providing clarity on learning aims.

Learners identified multiple facets to the role of the teacher and the types of learning experiences they valued -  a teacher that enthuses, challenges and transforms thinking and provides challenging learning experiences. They also suggested that a teacher should care, support and acknowledge the whole student and provide clarity on learning aims.
When directly asked the role of the teacher, 46.10% answered “to enthuse and challenge, to transform thinking, to foster academic endeavour” and 27.6% answered “to challenge, to encourage discussion and debate, to teach research skills” placing a high value on a challenging learning experiences. 54% said that “being challenged, gaining different perspectives, developing critical thinking, learning through interaction” is what they value most.
Interestingly, learners value traditional modes of teaching and commented on wanting face-to-face or one-on-one contact, more discussion in class and interactivity,

“Get the class to participate and interact more rather than just speaking/teaching”


“Encourage interaction between students within the classroom”

Mobile devices are therefore the tools in which enhance those learning experiences, but they should not replace them. In addition, learners sought more understanding, respect and care from their teachers, this strongly connects to He Whare Ako, He Whare Hangarau framework and the underpinning values of whanaungatanga (establishing and maintaining relationships) and manaakitanga (the duty of care, nurturing and respect) which are all part of the process of ako (teaching and learning),

“Acknowledge that other things are going on in your life that may be more important than study including, work, family, stresses. Study is not at the top of the list other than to pass. Seeing it as anything more would be a luxury.”

“By making students feel welcome. That way they would be able to be confident to ask for help when needed.”

“Making sure that the information that they convey is the same through all the platforms (e.g. university online, google groups, email, face-to-face, through different teachers) because it has been very confusing when people receive different information depending on the platform they received it from”

Recommendation: Mobile Devices provide a catalyst for a shift in pedagogy and assessment but they do not replace the face-to-face interaction and engagement that happens between learners and between learner and teacher. Teachers should consider how their pedagogical approaches to m-learning also privileges classroom interaction, face-to-face, discussion, debate as well as whanaungatanga and manaakitanga within the classroom.

4.    Learners value having a range of tools through learning toolkits

Learners identified multiple tools, devices, and activities that they valued and used as part of a large learning toolkit. Learners identified the most important devices, applications and modes for learning were shown to be face-to-face with teachers, a laptop, the LMS, pens and paper, and digital readings/handouts. Thus a mix of both the digital and nondigital tools for learning. Students showed that they valued the flipped or blended approach. The vast majority of students considered face-to-face interaction in the classroom/teaching space with teachers and peers to be important/extremely important, in contrast the value of mobile devices for communication in class as fairly low. The value placed on the mobile device for communication outside the classroom goes up, thus students indicating a value on a blended or flipped approach:

“I think the lecturers at [institution] who teach [specific subject] do a fantastic job of teaching and using different mediums to do so.”

Having more face to face class time would be great”

“More one on one time”


“More communication/support with distance students. It is hard as we are not all able to attend a class with everyone else and our lives such as job rosters or locations do not always allow time off or the likes to attend arranged/allocated time slots”

They also note the range and variety of opportunities to use their mobile devices when asked how they use them in and outside the classroom. This included research, working on assignments and assessments, accessing the LMS, writing notes, communication and online course work.
Recommendation: Teachers should consider how a wide range of learning tools can be incorporated into their learning which include both face-to-face as well as digital/mobile technologies. The blended approach to learning appears to be most valued by learners as there are tangible benefits for both modes of learning.

5.    Māori learners value face to face communication and contact with teachers for learning 

While learners in general valued a blended approach to learning, it was noted that Māori learners valued face to face communication and contact. Many of the Māori learner feedback in the survey indicated a need for more face to face time through quality teaching. This was emphasised more so by Māori learners in comparison to non-Māori learners, 95% indicated their support for face to face engagement with teachers as well as classmates.

They could be more available to help face-to-face with assignments and topics

Be more available personally - one on one, face to face outside of class

 Have more one on one base style, slowing down on some of the context in lectures

Having tutorials for classes rather than it all be online with very limited contact…  

To listen and give feedback, to guide and give direction and excite learning

Actually teach! Having lectures and face to face classes

More face to face, in class learning... none of this online learning stuff

Māori learner access to mobile devices was recorded in the learner survey at 100%. Furthermore, Māori learners were using laptops more outside of the classroom for learning than the rest of the sample (87% compared to 74%). Despite this, Māori learner's value face to face engagement and communication with teachers - this finding supports the blended/flexible approach to learning where face to face time with teachers during class is provided and mobile access to learning outside of classes.
Recommendation: Teachers should consider the value Māori learners place on being face-to-face with both their teachers and classmates. Teachers can provide more engaging and interactive classroom settings that can also be replicated and nurtured in online environments when learners are not in class, for example, Google Hangout tutorials where learners can still interact with each other and with the teacher, through m-learning.

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