VIDEO and audio recording capabilities that are found in mobile devices can aid teaching and learning if harnessed for the classroom.
A teacher can record voice lectures and instructions that can be shared and used by students and fellow teachers. This method of teaching aided by mobile technologies will surely enable learners to relate theory with practice.
These very mobile devices also possess Web Browsing capabilities that allow learners and teachers to surf for up to date information from various sources on the Internet leading to learners and teachers getting quality, balanced information due to its varied sources.
This is unlike a scenario where learners and teachers have one textbook that they all rely on and is usually outdated since in most scenarios it won’t be a recent edition of the textbook. With web browsers such as Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Internet Explorer and many others, researchers (Learners and Teachers) can get information from Websites, Podcasts, Blogs and Search Engines such as Google and many others. If these mobile technologies are harnessed, they will surely unlock value for the education sector.
The Web is continually evolving, with millions if not billions of pieces of information being added on a daily basis. This is unlike in the use of textbooks in their paper format that can become obsolete for as long as the latest edition is not readily available.
Education in recent times (21st Century Teaching and Learning) encourages on collaboration. With mobile technologies, learners can collaborate and corroborate thanks to mobile technology features that enable Social Networking.
Though social networks have been used and abused, they possess great potential that can be harnessed for great use in an educational setup. Learners in a 21st Century environment are encouraged to acquaint themselves with what has become known as Social Learning (learning within a Learner’s environment). Therefore, if we are to blend social Learning with social media, we end up with Social Media Learning.
In this setup, learners end up adopting Social Media Learning through Social Networking. The collaborative features that come with social networks are characteristic of social networking applications such as WhatsApp, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, Telegram and many others.
True as it may be, social networks have been abused, especially by individuals who haven’t seen their great potential. Imagine if we were to harness collaborative abilities that are so evident in the use of the popular WhatsApp application and incorporate them into a classroom setup, how much benefit would we draw?
WhatsApp comes with such features as Group Chats and message broadcasting that are so powerful to such an extent that if used for teaching and learning, they would extend learning beyond the physical classroom. Teachers and learners can continually interact even beyond the physical classroom. Students using social media learning collaborate and share resources even outside prescribed learning times.
Recent versions of WhatsApp permit the sending of various types of files. Microsoft Office Documents (MS Word, Excel, PowerPoint and others) can now be shared via WhatsApp. It is such files that can be used in the teaching and learning environment to aid learning. WhatsApp also allows sending of PDFs and ePUB files that are file types mainly used in eBooks.
This feature therefore allows learners and teachers to share eBooks amongst themselves. This will cut on costs of acquiring reading material. Harnessing the use of social networks such as WhatsApp and others will surely permit growth and development of Zimbabwe’s education sector.
Coupled with the Expanded Presidential Computerisation programme where His Excellency, President Mugabe has been donating Computers, harnessing Mobile Technologies will greatly improve teaching and learning even in the most far-flung areas of the country.
It is now high time we forget about the bad things that have been said about technology and start harnessing Mobile Technologies for use in our education sector so that we create a techno-savvy digital generation.
Isolating Mobile Technologies from our education system will continually breed more ills than good since the learner and society in general are not aware as to how to harness mobile technologies in aiding teaching and learning.
The author of this article is a Teacher at Emmanuel High School in Nyanga and can be contacted on: Email: [email protected]