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Using Mobile Technology for Fostering Intellectual Engagement (#mlearning)

Using Mobile Technology for Fostering Intellectual Engagement

Armando Paulino Preciado Babb, Candace Saar, Chenoa Marcotte, Jim Brandon, Sharon Friesen, University of Calgary, Calgary, Canada

Published on International Journal of Interactive Mobile Technologies

(Articles in this journal are published under the Creative Commons Attribution Licence , CC-BY.)



Student engagement, and in particular intellectual engagement, has been identified as a key factor in learning at the high school level. While this type of engagement has an impact on student learning in fields related to science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), it also has a positive impact on the learning of other disciplines such as English, Fine Arts, and Social Sciences. This report describes a set of projects co-designed by teachers and education specialists aimed at engaging students intellectually in each major high school subject area. Student use of mobile technologies, in this case the iPad2, features prominently in each of these projects. Interviews with teachers and students were conducted in order to identify evidence of intellectual engagement, as well as students’ interactions with the mobile device. Data from a survey was also used to identify the level of engagement of students involved in these projects.

Teaching Effectiveness Framework (TEF)

First, teachers are designers of learning environments that engage students intellectually and academically.

Second, work students are asked to undertake is worthy of their time and attention, personally relevant, and deeply connected to their world.

Third, assessment practices improve student learning and guide teaching.

Four, teachers foster a variety of interdependent relationships.

And five, teachers improve their practice in the company of peers and others.

An additional aspect of student engagement is the relationship of new generations with technology. The infusion of digital technologies is an essential part in the programs of study, in most Canadian provinces.

Increased Level of Engagement

The TTFM survey indicated an increased level of engagement when compared with other Grade Tens during both the same and the previous year (Figure 1). In particular, the level of intellectual engagement was 11% higher when compared with non-pod students in the same year, which suggests that the intervention impacted positively on student intellectual engagement.
Although it was not a main focus of this research, it is worth noting that social engagement improved as well: The category Sense of Belonging was 14% higher in the pod group compared with the other non-pod Grade Ten students in the school.

iPad increases intellectual engagement, research finds

The student was intrinsically motivated and self-directed during the study. One of the reflection excerpts from students contrasts a superficial experience of language arts with a more challenging program(deeper learning) that demanded more of students.

We would usually do whole bunch of grammar things and just general learning how to use the language. This year, there was a lot of reading comprehension, like we had to do with To Kill a Mockingbird. We had Romeo and Juliet. We had all of these essentially bits of reading or we would read through the passages of anything that [teachers] gave us and we’d have to comprehend what we read, like what did this character do at this time and how did that affect the story? So, it was a lot less learning how to use the language and more learning to kind of think with it, really, because we know how to use it now, so you get to think.

The increased rate of change in day-to-day technology makes it very difficult, or even impossible, for the teacher to be up to date with the most recent apps and software available, and adaptable, for educational purposes. The teacher is no longer the expert in the classroom in this regards, which opens the possibility for students to contribute with their knowledge and skills in mobile technology.

But teachers are still the subject matter experts and learning designers, only the role of teachers is different.  To leverage iPad’s versatility to obtain the positive learning outcomes,   readers should understand how the learning activities are designed. Access the full paper here : Using Mobile Technology for Fostering Intellectual Engagement.



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“Tell me and I will forget, show me and I may remember, involve me and I will understand.” -------- Chinese Wisdom "Games are the most elevated form of investigation." -------- Albert Einstein
"I'm calling for investments in educational technology that will help create digital tutors that are as effective as personal tutors, educational software as compelling as the best video game," President Barack Obama said while touring a tech-focused Boston school (year 2011).
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