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Challenges of Integrating Mobile Technology into Mathematics in Secondary Schools

Info: 9069 words (36 pages) Dissertation
Published: 10th Dec 2019

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CHALLENGES OF INTEGRATING MOBILE TECHNOLOGY INTO MATHEMATICS INSTRUCTION IN SECONDARY SCHOOLS: AN INDONESIAN CONTEXT

Implementation of mobile learning in curriculum-based educational settings faces challenges related to perceived ethical and learning issues. This study has investigated the affordances of mobile technologies to support mathematics instruction by teachers. An exploratory study employing questionnaires and semi-structured interviews has revealed that while mathematics instructions can be augmented with mobile learning, the majority of schools in Indonesia have banned students from using mobile phones in classrooms. Teachers worry about the improper use of mobile phones which could impact their students’ mental well-being and distract them from learning. Mostly teachers perceive mobile technologies to be disruptive and seem reluctant to use them for their teaching delivery. However, teachers are eager to experiment with digital technologies within mathematics instruction. Our findings suggest infusing alternate technologies which fit better with the school’s teaching and learning environment into classroom teaching. This could include web-based applications that can run on different digital devices, ranging from desktop computers, laptops, tablets to mobile phones. We propose the setting up of communities of practice for mathematics teachers to share their instructional repertoire on integrating digital technologies within classroom teaching practice. 

 

Keywords: Mobile learning; mobile devices; mathematics learning; mathematics teacher

INTRODUCTION

The regulation (reference number 68 in the curriculum year 2013) of Ministry of Education and Culture (MoEC) of Indonesia states that all subject disciplines (including mathematics) are to be integrated with technology (MoEC, 2013). Teachers are required to develop the necessary skills to integrate technology into instruction. To achieve this, teachers need to be provided with appropriate guidance and support to integrate technology into their mathematics teaching practice. Specifically, this study looks at mathematics subject discipline to explore how mobile technology is used as an aid for delivery of mathematical concepts. Technological devices deliver a range of functionalities, such as rich graphical interfaces which provide visual representation of logical evidence suitable for enhancing the process of teaching and learning mathematics, and computational capabilities to motivate and support problem-posing activities (Abramovich & Cho, 2015; Niss, Blum, & Galbraith, 2007). The inclusion of technologies in the instructional repertoire for presentation of mathematics concepts would help create an environment where students engage with mathematics in a meaningful way (Jung & Conderman, 2013; Lew & Jeong, 2014). The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) acknowledges that technology can be leveraged effectively by teachers if they know how to make good use of technological tools as mediators (NCTM, 2011). Therefore, a good understanding on how the technological platform grounds the underpinning teaching pedagogy and assists in delivery of the curriculum content is essential (Koehler, Mishra, & Yahya, 2007). Technology can then be used as an intervention to improve students’ learning skills across different teaching and assessment strategies.

Despite policy expectations and the proven value of technological tools in the mathematics classroom the majority of teachers in Indonesia lack adequate technology skill levels (Copriady, 2014). The results of the national examination of teachers’ competency (UKG) of Indonesia, conducted online in 2011 and 2012 also corroborate this evidence. The national average score for UKG in 2012 was 47.84/100, far from the passing grade of 70/100. This low result does not reflect on teachers’ lack of teaching experience, rather it illustrates teachers’ lack awareness, particularly in terms of technicalities needed in the conduct of online examinations (Yusri & Goodwin, 2013). The centre for information and communication technology in education and culture (PUSTEKKOM) has reported that although the use of information technology has been part of the curriculum at all school levels, no specific instructional hours have been allocated at primary level while about 1 to 5 hours per week are mostly allocated at secondary level (Pannen, 2014; UNESCO-UIS, 2014). In 2013 curriculum, schools had indicated willingness to integrate technology in their curriculum (MoEC, 2013), but a survey conducted by UNESCO-UIS (2014) revealed low technology usage in teaching practice along with poor infrastructural support. Consequently, the integration of technology into the school curriculum in Indonesia is still far from meeting the desired expectations.

The presence of technology has made teaching and learning mathematics easier in recent times (Eng, Han, & Fah, 2016). The advancement of feature-rich mobile technologies as well as the emergence of new theories in mobile learning have raised a lot of attention to the way mobile technologies can transform and reconstruct educational practice (Crompton & Burke, 2014). However, the use of mobile technology for learning has raised some ethical issues and concerns (Thomas, O’Bannon, & Bolton, 2013). For instance, many teachers have expressed concern about the use of mobile devices in their classrooms since they may distract students from engaging responsibly in learning activities (Dyson, Andrews, Smyth, & Wallace, 2013; Keengwe, Schnellert, & Jonas, 2012). Consequently, many schools ban students from using mobile devices (Thomas et al., 2013). It is important therefore to understand mobile learning challenges as well as their capabilities.

This paper investigates teachers’ attitudes towards the use of mobile technologies. Particularly, we investigate the current use of mobile technologies at schools in Indonesia to understand what are the perceptions regarding the potentials being offered or challenges being faced with the use of mobile technologies for teaching and learning in mathematics classrooms. Two research questions are posed:

  1. To what extent are mathematics teachers using their own mobile devices either in their daily activities or in schools?
  2. What challenges do they face in implementing mobile technology for teaching and learning mathematics?

This section has introduced the study context and posed the research questions. The next section gives an overview of literature of both the potentials and challenges of mobile technology for learning, and explores affordances of mobile technology to support mathematics learning. The methods employed for the conduct of the study are described next, followed by the findings and discussion. The following section consolidates the findings and suggests recommendations for integrating mobile technology within mathematics instruction. Finally, the implications and limitations of the study are stated and further research directions are proposed.

REVIEW OF LITERATURE

Technology offers enormous potential for teachers to change and develop their teaching practice (Leach, Ahmed, Makalima, & Power, 2006). Traditionally in many mathematics classrooms, teaching involves a one-to-many role where one teacher explains and leads a discussion for a given problem to many students in a classroom setting. In contrast, technology usage has the potential to enhance mathematics teaching and learning (Lew & Jeong, 2014). Technology can incorporate interaction to individualise instruction and engage students (Maddux & Johnson, 2005). Using appropriate technological tools, students can individually interact and experiment with subject specific applications to aid in their understanding of the subject concepts as they contribute to classroom discussions.

Mobile Technology for Learning: Potentials and Challenges

There have been various definitions to describe the term mobile learning.  According to Park (2011, p. 79), “the use of mobile or wireless devices for the purpose of learning while on the move” can be described as mobile learning. Meanwhile, O’Malley et al. (2005, p. 7) defined mobile learning as “any sort of learning that happens when the learner is not at a fixed, predetermined location, or learning that happens when the learner takes advantage of the learning opportunities offered by mobile technologies”. Sharples, Taylor, and Vavoula (2007, p. 224) define mobile learning as “the processes of coming to know through conversations across multiple contexts amongst people and personal interactive technologies”. However, mobile learning is not limited to the mobility aspects of mobile devices. Some researchers describe mobile learning with regard to learners’ experience of learning with these devices. According to them mobile learning can provide opportunities by accessing learning resources and collaborating with people, even at a fixed location (Kukulska-Hulme & Traxler, 2005; Parsons, Ryu, & Cranshaw, 2007; Traxler, 2007).

In this study, we use the meaning of mobile learning as related to learning opportunities offered with interactive mobile devices where a learner accesses resources at a fixed location or while on the move. Mobile devices therefore comprise any handheld device capable of multiple functions, including but not limited to, accessing the Internet, the running of applications, listening to music, taking pictures and recording audio/video. Examples include a mobile phone, a smartphone, a tablet, a laptop, a notebook or similar devices. A number of embedded features in mobile devices can be beneficial for teaching and learning activities, supporting communication, enhancing collaboration between and among students and teachers, thereby providing a dynamic learner-centred educational environment (Aubusson, Schuck, & Burden, 2009; Looi et al., 2010; Thomas et al., 2013). In addition, mobile devices can enhance learning within some authentic real world context and cultural setting to allow learners to personalise their own learning tailored to their individual needs (Naismith, Lonsdale, Vavoula, & Sharples, 2004; Parsons, 2014).

Although mobile learning has promising future potential, the opportunities for mobile learning do not come without challenges. Mobile phones in the classroom have been perceived as a disruptive technology for teachers.  A ringing phone is considered the most common disruption in the classroom and may negatively impact on student performance (Thomas et al., 2013). Teachers also have concerns about students’ use of mobile phones for cheating and collusion in which students text answers during exams, take pictures of exam papers to share with friends, store answer keys to be consulted in exams, or find answer sources via the Internet during exams (Dyson et al., 2013; Keengwe et al., 2012). Students may also use their mobiles for inappropriate activities (sexting) (Thomas et al., 2013). Sexting can lead to harassment and cyberbullying (Siegle, 2010). A number of teens are reported to have committed suicide after being victims of cyberbullying (Keengwe et al., 2012).

Affordances of Mobile Devices for Mathematics Learning

The goal of teaching mathematics is to make students competent so they are able to successfully deal with new situations containing explicit or implicit mathematical challenges (Niss, 2015). The goal “could only be reached by having students start from situations that needed to be mathematized” (De Lange, 2003, p. 87). Nevertheless, there are still many difficulties which students face in connecting the mathematics they learned in school to situations and problems occurring on a daily basis (Sawaya & Putnam, 2015). The proliferation of mobile devices and their applications have provided access to real-world data and contexts for solving mathematics problems to allow teachers to make connections between mathematics and real-world situations.

In considering what mobile devices offer to support connection between mathematics and real-world situations, White and Martin (2014) proposed four basic practices which augment mobile learning. The first basic practice is capturing and collecting information relevant to learning activity. Information can be obtained by recording auditory and visual content, and documenting numerical, text, and location coordinates using cameras, microphones or Global Positioning System (GPS) (Sawaya & Putnam, 2015). The second basic practice is communicating and collaborating via phone, text, emails and social networks. Mobile devices can enable learners and teachers to have two-way communication synchronously or asynchronously as part of their learning activity when they share their experiences with each other (Berking & Haag, 2015). Mobile devices can also be used to gather many kinds of information including images, videos, e-book and websites. Learners and teachers can then evaluate the information obtained through discussions (Sawaya & Putnam, 2015). The use of information and providing reviews of it can be identified as the third basic practice which is consuming and critiquing. The fourth basic practice related to content creation such as editing of images and videos, sketching designs, producing podcast, posting articles to blogs and so forth. The practice to follow such developing and producing content is called constructing and creating. In addition to these four basic practices, Sawaya and Putnam (2015) add a practice specifically related to numerical calculation. Mobile devices allow learners and teachers to input data and perform computations by using various types of calculator applications. Obviously, these computational functions are found in other devices such as desktop computers and calculators, but the emergence of mobile devices makes them more easily accessible in a variety of contexts. The practice related to processing numerical data is referred to as computing. While none of these basic practices are unique to mobile devices, if used effectively they can better integrate the affordances offered by mobile technologies with teaching practices within mathematics instructions to support learners.

 

METHODS

This study employed both quantitative and qualitative methods in collecting, analysing, and integrating data to understand the research dilemma (Creswell, Fetters, & Ivankova, 2004) in regard to perceived opportunities and challenges facing mobile learning platform implementations in Indonesian schools. The research team has much experience in this domain, comprising of educators in fields related to teacher training, mathematics education and information technology. Quantitative methods were employed through a survey which was subjected to statistical analysis. The survey consisted of 20 items including both closed and open-ended questions. Further, qualitative data collected through open-ended survey questions and semi-structured interviews aimed to understand teachers’ experiences in using mobile devices either in their daily activities or in mathematics classrooms. Further interviews were conducted with school teachers to gain insight into current issues in school environments regarding mobile teaching practice and to assess teacher readiness to use available technologies.

 

Participants

The study was conducted in Semarang municipality, Central Java province, Indonesia. The sample size of the survey was determined by a formula proposed by Yamane (1967, p. 886). The number of mathematics teachers in Semarang municipality consists of 462 teachers, so by using Yamane’s formula with a margin of error of 0.05 the sample size is 214 teachers. In this study, 213 teachers from 129 different junior high schools participated, which is, very close to the target number. By gender, the participants were 61.5% (131) female and 38.5% (82) male. Further, most of teachers were from an urban area (195 or 91.5%), with very few (18 or 8.5%) from a rural area. Moreover, most teachers (157 or 73.7%) who participated had a teacher’s certificate from the teacher certification program (i.e., a program designed by the government of Indonesia to establish a quality benchmark for both in-service and pre-service teachers (Jalal et al., 2009).)

After analyses of the survey data, we selected a purposive sample of fifteen mathematics teachers for further interviews. We wanted to understand from these teachers their overall school and classroom experiences with regard to mobile teaching and learning practice. Each interview took approximately 20 minutes. Four teachers were interviewed face to face at their schools while eleven teachers could not be met face to face since they were busy with school-related work, so they were interviewed over phone. In this paper, the teachers are identified by their user codes (T1, T2 and so forth).

Data Collection and Analysis

Quantitative data gained from the survey were first coded and then analysed using descriptive statistics functionality available in SPSS (IBM, 2015). The outcomes have been used to understand the experiences of respondents in their use of mobile devices in teaching and learning activities. The interview data were wholly transcribed and analysed in Indonesian language. Categories were identified by dividing each type of the gathered data into segments and examining these segments for similarities and differences. Next, each response was coded to a number of categories. After coding the responses, the categories which had the most responses were marked as prominent. The next step was to see which categories were related and whether any patterns and trends could be identified. Once the more prominent categories were identified, they helped identify trends to give a holistic view on potentials offered and challenges faced by teachers as they leveraged mobile technology for mathematics instruction in their teaching delivery.

 

RESULTS

This section presents the results based on the analysis of the results of questionnaires and interviews. We present the results in two subsections to answer the two research questions (RQ1 and RQ2), that is, (1) leveraging mobile affordances refers to experiences of teachers with how they have used mobile technology in their daily activities or in schools (RQ1), and (2) challenges in using mobile learning for mathematics instruction refers to challenges faced by teachers in their use of mobile devices in Indonesian school contexts (RQ2).

Leveraging Mobile Technology Affordances

Before we asked the teachers about their experiences in using mobile devices either in daily activities or in schools (RQ1), we enquired how many teachers currently used mobile devices, and if they used more than one mobile device. Findings revealed that over a half of the teachers owned smartphone (124 or 58.22%), tablet (28 or 13.15%), and Internet-enabled basic phone (23 or 10.80%). However, some of the teachers (40 or 18.78%) did not have mobile phones with Internet capabilities. Further, we enquired how often teachers currently used mobile devices to support their daily activities. Almost half of the teachers (104 or 48.83%) reported that they mostly used mobile devices for texting or sending messages. The teachers (82 or 38.50%) occasionally used mobile devices for social networking activities and some of them (51 or 23.94%) used them for all sorts of social and computing activities. Teachers (85 or 39.91%) further used mobile device for activities related to email. These findings show that mobile devices are mostly used as tools for communication and collaboration among teachers. Some teachers’ responses in the survey stated:

I use mobile phone only to keep in touch with my family and friends.

Anytime I need to communicate with my friends, I use my mobile phone.

Further, most of the teachers with mobile devices also used them for consuming information such as reading content files (106 or 49.77%), searching for information (100 or 46.95%), and listening to music or watching videos (122 or 57.28%). The teachers commented that they sought relevant information from the Internet via mobile phones to get the latest information to supplement information obtained from books.

I usually use my mobile phone at home to find any information from other sources when I could not find them in the books.

At school, I use my mobile phone for searching materials that do not exist in the books and also seeking for mathematics-related questions for practices.

In terms of affordances of mobile devices as tools for constructing and creating, few teachers (23 or 10.80%) used them for creating and uploading content (e.g., image, video, etc.) as a general practice. However, some of them (96 or 45.07%) said that they did this occasionally. Regarding the basic practice of capturing and collecting information using mobile devices, some teachers (96 or 35.21%) responded that they occasionally used their devices to view maps to get driving directions to required locations by using GPS-enabled mobile apps. Table 1 represents teachers’ activities (in percentage) in their day-to-day use of mobile devices.

[Table 1 about here]

Next, we asked teachers about their experiences in using mobile devices for mathematics instruction. The survey revealed that only 31.9% (68) of teachers have used mobile devices in teaching and learning activities. They used mobile learning in all sorts of activities either indoor (28 or 13.1%) or outdoor (19 or 8.9%) activities as well as in either formal (24 or 11.3%) or informal (3 or 1.4%) settings.

With respect to the use of mobile devices in mathematics class, teachers shared many experiences.

I use the Quipper School [a web-based application]. For example, I give an instruction to them like this: “Ok everyone, I have posted a homework [these consist of 10 multiple choice questions related to the material taught today] in the Quipper School, you have one week to complete them just take a look at your own account”. Then, they are able to do the work in one week [since to complete this homework, students will require computers/mobile devices to answer the multiple choice questions posted in the Quipper School]. One week after, I can immediately check the results. I can also determine which students are in upper, middle and lower level (T10).

I even applied this method [mobile learning] in my classes. I even asked the IX grade students to bring their mobile phones and I gave them a web address where they were able to do some exercises and they could also match their answers by looking at the discussions of national exam made by the government. Besides, I also applied this method for the VIII grade students. [Using a mobile application] we placed some points [in a GPS-enabled map]. Students were then asked to approach these points by following a map, and in each point there was a mathematics real-world problem to be solved. The result was they were very interested in this kind of activity (T6).

These views indicate that the teachers perceive mobile phone usage in instruction to be beneficial. The affordances of mobile technology enable teachers to enrich the overall learning experience as they create innovative teaching and learning strategies for delivering mathematics instruction.

I usually use my phone to see if there are any emails. I often get much information about online training from the email…….. Sometimes I use it to find some terms in mathematics via Google, and sometimes I also seek some materials to motivate the students at the beginning of the learning, so they will feel excited before the actual learning takes place (T6).

 

Challenges in Using Mobile Learning for Mathematics Instruction

The affordances of technologies (mobile devices) can bring a sense of positive and negative perceptions to individuals (teachers) on how its usage will impact their environment (classroom teaching instruction) (Gibson, 1977). On one side, benefits afforded by mobile devices in classrooms like bringing in of new technology interfacing capabilities are positive; while on other side, mobile devices also affords challenges such as changes to instructional practice in teaching. Teachers were asked to identify the challenges in the use of mobile learning in mathematics instruction (RQ2). Based on the survey, 58.2% (124) of teachers responded that they considered that mobiles would disrupt the class (e.g. phones ringing during class, texting and checking incoming phone message in classroom). The second challenge related to cyberbullying and sexting (106 or 49.8%), followed by cheating (87 or 40.8%). One teacher opined:

I think the parents’ awareness about bringing the mobile phones into the school is caused by uncontrolled pornographic contents, but in my opinion if they [teachers] are able to control and monitor their students carefully, these unwanted problems might not happen. Therefore, the students should hand in their mobile phones to the homeroom teachers… In this way we can anticipate and resolve many negative impacts for them (T4).

Some schools have banned mobile phones. At the beginning of each new academic year the school invites all parents and presents the school’s policies; one of which is that children (especially freshmen) are not allowed to bring mobile devices to school. The parents are asked to sign an agreement stating that they will comply with the school’s policy.

In my school the students must not bring their mobile phones…….. This prohibition is written in the school’s rules which are delivered explicitly [in the meeting with the students’ parents] and they are asked to sign a form of willingness that their kids will obey this rule (T6).

…particularly for the freshmen, during PPD [the new students’ orientation], we made the rules. There were some agreements between us and their parents. There was an item stating that the students must not bring their mobile phone. The reason [of this rule] was also stated [in that meeting] and it had finally become one of the rules (T1).

Above quotes indicate that the schools impose restrictions whereby students are not permitted to bring mobile phones to school, which could be a reason why teachers are reluctant to use mobile phones in classroom teaching. With such restrictions in place, teachers are not able to apply creative teaching methods. Prohibiting mobile phones at school thus limits teachers in expressing themselves in the exploration of mathematics concepts using mobile technology.

Apart from the teachers’ concern about using mobile devices within instruction, the findings show that the limited availability of technology (e.g. students do not have mobile devices, schools have insufficient / do not have mobile devices) to also be a barrier in the implementation of mobile learning. When questioned some teachers (70 or 34.3%) confirmed this to be a challenge:

The challenge [of mobile learning] is that not all students have an Android phone or a smartphone (T8).

Another challenge described by teachers is the limited availability of wireless connectivity in schools. To engage with mobile technology in instruction, Wi-Fi has to become ubiquitous. However, not all schools have good Wi-Fi connection and even so, the connection only covers few areas. Two teachers voiced this issue:

[Wi-Fi signal] does not cover the whole [school] area, but is only available within a certain area (T3).

The second challenge is the overload of Wi-Fi networks usage leading to slower access time in loading resources [from the Internet] (T5).

In this regard, we found that poor wireless connectivity is another hindrance to the implementation of mobile learning. These findings are similar to those of Muir (2013) who suggests that although there are various Internet data packs offered by companies, the mobile learning implementation is costly.

With respect to ethical issues that led to the emergence of a ban on mobile phone usage in schools, two teachers shared their recommendations.

The representatives of the school committee, representatives of the students’ parents, representatives of the guidance and counselling, and representatives of the classroom teachers should discuss this rule [using mobile phones for learning] together to find the best solutions. Then after this discussion, we will be able to execute the discussion results in the learning process (T4).

In my personal opinion, if the students are very excited in using mobile technology in the learning process, first thing to do is consulting or coordinating with the homeroom teachers, preceptors of intra-school organization, and of course to the school principal… after that, all stakeholders [must] agree on what have just been delivered and we also need to tell the parents. We make a notification letter that up from now, the students are allowed to use their mobile phones for the purpose of learning process (T6).

These teachers share similar views that mobile learning can still be implemented in teaching and learning activities by involving all stakeholders, and by adjusting schools’ policy to relax restrictions on mobile devices. These findings are similar to those of Dyson et al. (2013) who suggests that that the involvement will encourage ownership of the policies at all levels.

The readiness of teachers towards mobile learning is also a positive step towards this endeavour successful. One teacher expressed a similar view.

The first challenge is about the teachers’ readiness. All teachers must be more progressive in preparing the learning materials. The second is monitoring to the students [during the mobile learning process], and the last is the learning process must be conducted as creatively as possible (T10).

Readiness in this view can be interpreted in terms of the skills teachers possess and the extent to which teachers feel comfortable in using mobile device for their teaching practice. Therefore, in this regard, readiness towards mobile learning needs to consider three aspects, namely technological, pedagogical, and psychological (Stockwell, 2008). These three aspects will help teachers resolve any concerns which might come up when actual implementation of mobile learning does eventually take place.

DISCUSSION AND RECOMMENDATIONS

This study has provided insights on how mathematics teachers view the potential of mobile devices as instructional tools to support out-of-school or in school activities in Indonesia. The current study has also investigated the challenges teachers face with mobile technology being infused into mathematics classrooms.

Teachers’ Personal Use of Mobile Devices

The data show that most teachers own mobile devices and some of them have more than one mobile device. The teachers leverage the affordances of mobile devices to get driving directions using GPS-enabled mobile apps. However, many teachers do not use their mobiles for teaching and learning activities, rather devices are used on a daily basis for out-of-school activities. The majority of teachers use mobile devices for communication and collaboration either with family or peers, such as for texting, social networking and email exchanges. The presence of mobile devices has widely transformed the way teachers connect with each other. Two-way communication can easily be performed either synchronously or asynchronously. Text messages, social media, and email are forms of communication that make it easier for teachers to stay in touch with distant peers.

Apart from the affordances of facilitating communication, mobile devices offer ease of access to information. Some teachers utilise mobile devices to search relevant information from the Internet via mobile phones to get the latest information regarding subject content which supplements the textbook information. The teachers reported that they use mobile devices to create content (e.g. edited images, videos, sketches, podcasts, posted articles, etc.) and to upload the content to public media or private storage. Mathematics-related questions are sought to enhance student learning experience (for example, embedding problems in maps, posting homework online and providing students instant feedback on right and wrong answers). This illustrates that the teachers also use their mobiles for professional purposes. When the teachers are able to select information that fit with their needs, they can analyse, synthesize and personalize the information for creating technology-enabled subject delivery for classroom teaching.

Therefore the argument can be made that the teachers can make effective use of their mobile technology for teaching purposes (Overbaugh & Lu, 2008; Zhang, Trussell, Tillman, & An, 2015). For those who had implemented mobile learning in mathematics class, they viewed mobile devices as useful instructional tools; although they admitted that they could be more creative and innovative in delivering mathematical content with this technology. The opportunities are in front of us; we just need to identify the best route to overcome the challenges so as to achieve them.

Ethical Considerations in Mobile Device Use

Adopting mobile technology in education raise some ethical issues and concerns (Dyson et al., 2013). This study examined ethical considerations that might arise when students bring mobile phones into classrooms (For example, distractions from learning, cyberbullying, sexting and cheating). More than half of the teachers perceive that mobile devices can be a distraction in classrooms and almost half are concerned about cyberbullying and sexting. Some of the teachers are also concerned about cheating. Lack of technology resources also are seen by teachers to be a hindrance in infusing mobile technology in education. More than one-fourth of teachers confirmed this view. These issues are indeed the most-cited reasons causing teachers to be reluctant to use mobile learning within instruction.

These challenges need to be addressed if mobile technology is to be used more effectively by teachers and their students. Regarding technology availability problems, Thomas et al. (2013) recommended that teachers should allow students who have mobile phones to work collaboratively with those who do not, and that school could procure mobile phones to facilitate the students use in classrooms. Whereas, to deal with ethical concerns, some teachers have recommended that all stakeholders need to be invited to discuss the policy. Involvement of all stakeholders refers all those who will be affected by the policy as well as those who will enforce it (Dyson et al., 2013). In fact, the ethical issues arise as a result of concerns about misusing mobile devices for something inappropriate. Therefore, the teachers must be able to encourage students to process the information obtained while using their mobile phones only for the purpose of learning mathematics concepts. Further, teachers should encourage students to be responsible and take positive actions towards their own learning, rather than just avoiding technology due to perceived harmful, dangerous and unethical reasons. In line with what some teachers have delivered with mobile technology, it is seen that despite these challenges, teachers have been able to assign study tasks to students and allocate them homework online.

Instead of forbidding students to bring their mobile phones, there should be another strategy that introduces specific steps to restrict bad behaviour among students in how they use mobile phones. As stated by one teacher, rather than banning phones completely, the school can control inappropriate use of mobile phones, by making students hand in their devices to the homeroom teachers. Students can then use their devices as and when required, such as during classroom teaching and learning sessions. However, this will include an extra overhead for the school as they are now responsible for the safe-keeping of these devices.

CONCLUSION AND IMPLICATIONS FOR FUTURE RESEARCH

The findings affirm that mathematics instructions can be augmented with mobile learning; however the majority of schools prohibit the use of mobile devices in classrooms. Most teachers also perceive mobile devices as a disruptive technology. Moreover, many teachers confirmed that schools have insufficient facility with regard to mobile technology. Further, limited access of mobile devices in schools constitutes the main hindrance factor for process of adoption of mobile technology. These make teachers reluctant to use mobile learning in teaching and learning activities.

Whilst environmental challenges have restricted the use of mobile devices within mathematics instructions, there are compelling reasons to use digital technologies to communicate mathematics ideas. Our findings suggest that classroom teaching be infused with alternative technologies for instructions; especially those that fit better with the current social situation of schools in Indonesia. These could include web-based applications that can run on all digital devices ranging from desktop computers, laptops, tablets to phones. Teachers are eager to experiment with technology for classroom teaching; however, the difficulties in using mobile devices can undermine the full potential of their realization of their use. This has implications in tailoring of teachers’ skills with technology usage in line with underlying school practices. Appropriate teacher-training programs can help teachers in improving their technology skills and in manifesting pedagogical knowledge with technology. Within this context, suitable training relevant to educational goal and priorities, knowledge and skills must be imparted. Teacher-training can be part of teacher professionalism development to improve quality teaching with technology. While these are initiatives to be considered by the school, the teacher’s professional development in use of mobile technology can also be conducted by initiating an online community of practice as another means for the teachers to learn and share technology-enabled teaching experiences with their peers informally.

Communities of practice have proven successful in teacher professional development (Schlager, Fusco, & Schank, 2002). A community of practice enables teachers to perform a collaborative learning process to build knowledge (Hoadley, 2012; Kirschner & Lai, 2007). Besides, community of practice supports teachers to critically reflect on their own practices to improve their instruction (Kirschner & Lai, 2007; Yang, 2009). Our study findings indicate a gap in the use of mobile technology for mathematics teaching, that is, only a few teachers are using mobile technology for analytical thinking and problem solving purposes, while the majority of teachers use technologies for content delivery. Moving forward, in the next stage of the study, we propose to build a closed online Community of Practice, where teachers will be invited to join this community. Joining the online community will be totally voluntarily. It is hoped that this community will provide a platform for discussions on already-in-place and new teaching practices, as teachers share their views informally on applying mobile (and more broadly digital) technology in classroom instruction. This will provide a leeway to teachers for reconstructing their teaching delivery practices to help bridge the current gap as they integrate mobile technologies into their mathematics classroom instruction.

The findings of this study are not without limitations. The study participants were mathematics teachers who attended a teacher workshop. Because this study was limited to teachers who attended the workshop, it does not give attention to teachers who did not attend, which limits the generalizability of the study, and such conclusion made here must be considered in the context of this study. Finally, further research to investigate students’ attitudes towards technology for learning mathematics also is crucial. Teaching and learning is a two-way process, and we need to know how students attribute technology towards promoting their mathematical thinking and reasoning. To put forward an effective technology-enabled teaching practice, we need to focus on individuals (both students and teachers) first within their social context, which in turn will lead to broader mobile/digital learning strategies and contribute to design of instructional tools and repertories for mathematics classroom.

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

This study was supported by the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) ­– Universitas Negeri Semarang and the Indonesia Endowment Fund for Education (LPDP) dissertation scholarship. We would like to thank the editors and anonymous reviewers for their insights. We believe that the review process greatly strengthened this report.

 

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Table 1. Teachers’ activities in the use of mobile devices

Activity Never

(%)

Seldom

(%)

Occasionally

(%)

Always

(%)

Social networking 28.64 8.92 38.50 23.94
Reading content files (e.g., e-book, article, etc.) 27.69 10.33 49.77 12.21
Accessing emails 28.64 15.02 39.91 16.43
Text messaging 21.12 4.70 25.35 48.83
Searching for information 22.06 1.88 46.95 29.11
View map and get driving directions 35.68 24.88 35.21 4.23
Creating and Uploading content (e.g., image, video, etc.) 32.39 11.74 45.07 10.80
Playing games 38.50 28.64 27.70 5.16
Listening to music or watching videos 23.47 11.74 57.28 7.51

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