The purpose of this study was to explore an m-Learning approach using mobile devices in an introductory-level course for undergraduate music education majors. In this context, mobile devices refers to media- and/or web-enabled platforms such as iPod Touch, “smart” phones, personal data assistants (PDAs), or tablet computers. These devices have capabilities that allow learning in a variety of mobile settings, hence “m-Learning.” The course in question (MUS 230) has traditionally incorporated a series of field observations in local K-12 schools, designed to acquaint students with a variety of music education practices and settings, with assessment accomplished by means of a written reflection assignment following each observation.
For the spring 2011 semester, the MUS 230 class was given the opportunity to purchase an Apple iPod Touch (4th generation) at a substantial discount. All members of the class elected to purchase the device and participate in the research project (100%, n = 19). All participants were asked to complete the first of five observation reports using a standard written form adapted from Hoffer (2009). In observations two through five, in addition to the traditional written reflection, students had the opportunity to demonstrate reflection and comprehension of field-based knowledge by submitting reports in m-Learning media or Web 2.0 formats: annotated video clips, narrated audio clip podcasts, captioned photo slideshows, or blog entries. Students were required to submit a minimum of two reports in m-Learning formats. Analysis was guided by two questions, with data gathered from student work samples and survey tools.
Can using media-enabled mobile devices engage the students in deeper reflection on their field experience?
• Students seemed positively engaged by the experience
• 12 students (63%) did more than the required minimum two reports in m-Learning formats
• The option for creativity seemed to spark unique moments of reflection
• Use of a “new” format may lead to greater attention focused on the assignment
• Attitude data may be skewed by the fact that the cost of the mobile devices was heavily subsidized, and attitudes may be different when such subsidies are absent
Can using media-enabled mobile devices allow the instructor a more meaningful assessment of the knowledge gained in field experience?
• Media tools allowed the instructor to partly experience what the students were seeing in the field
• Requiring the students to submit artifacts to support their reflection heightened the authenticity of the assessment
• Benefits may be limited by sporadic technical issues and time required to assess student work in real-time media
• Some formats generated more quality student work than others
Funding for this research was provided through the m-Learning Scholars program of the Center for Teaching & Learning at Boise State University.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/david_rickels/11/