Power, Tom and Sankale, James
In the palm of your hand: supporting rural teacher professional development and practice through the use of mobile phones and other handheld digital devices.
In: Meraka Innovate Conference, April 18-20 2007, Pretoria, South Africa, Meraka Institute.
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Given the huge growth of mobile phone access in Sub Saharan Africa (Minges, 2004) some of the most innovative uses of mobile devices are now to be found in the development context (Economist, 2005). Reviews of the use of mobile technologies point to a range of current and potential development for learning in classrooms, homes and the community (e.g. Naismith et al).
This paper draws on the experience of two projects: a large scale project for SMS mediated school administration in Kenya and a small scale research project using eBooks and other digital tools for teacher professional development and practice, carried out in predominantly rural schools in the Eastern Cape, South Africa. This research is set in the wider context of the emerging theory, practice and evaluation of the use of mobile technologies for improving teaching and learning (Leach 2006, Power & Thomas 2006, Traxler & Kukulska-Hulme 2006).
The paper considers the potential of currently common mobile phones to aid communication and break down isolation amongst rural teachers and the design, use and evaluation of e-book learning resources on handheld mobile devices, such as current ‘smart-phones’, which the authors anticipate will soon be the ‘normal’ ubiquitous mobile phone.
Whilst there is only a small body of evidence on the application of mobile technologies to teacher learning, impacts on teacher development remain a matter for debate. Findings suggest that given the right conditions, uses of mobile technology can significantly enhance teacher professional learning and practice.
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