A case study of mobile internet technology in bilingual elementary classrooms
MetadataShow full item record
Research about the use of mobile Internet technology in education is increasing, but gaps remain in the literature. This study used a case study approach to understand how teachers in a bilingual English Language Learner (ELL) classroom used iPod touch devices in a Texas public elementary school. Unlike many other studies investigating the use of mobile Internet technology in education by motivated educators and researchers, this research focuses on an initiative where apprehensive teachers were mandated to integrate mobile Internet technology. It also has a relatively rare focus on the implementation process rather than learning outcomes. Research questions were designed to explore how teachers implemented the iPod touch devices, whether the implementation encouraged informal learning, and what implementation challenges arose. Data sources consisted of qualitative interviews with students, teachers, and a school administrator as well as classroom observations and an analysis of student artifacts. Data showed that many activities resulting from the implementation of the iPod touch initiative included elements of constructivist learning and encouraged student interaction. Another finding was that giving students full-time possession of the devices did lead to students using the device outside of school, but that most of their activities involved practicing what they had learned in the classroom and not true informal learning. Overcoming teachers’ hesitancy and lack of familiarity with technology were found to be major obstacles early in the program, but findings suggested that training, support, and student enthusiasm overcame teachers’ initial reluctance. Implications of this research are that efforts to integrate mobile Internet technology with elementary-level ELLs need an active focus on informal learning to leverage the potential the devices offer. Also, successful implementation requires more than just the availability of the technology; it also requires training and support for teachers to increase their familiarity with the technology and to provide them with ideas that allow them to use the technology most effectively.