Last Friday, my colleague Nick and I attended an HEA organised event – Changing the Learning Landscape (CLL) – at the University of Southampton (UoS).
It was an informative event about practices around mobile learning and bring your own device (BYOD) approaches by various UK institutions.
Following an introduction to the day by Alison Le Cornu from the HEA, Prof Hugh Davis, Director of CITE at UoS gave an introduction on university strategy and digital literacies. Digital literacies were defined as the skills needed to be developed by students in order to ‘be equipped to live, thrive, learn, work, collaborate, influence and lead in the increasingly digital and connected world’. Mobile learning and BYOD could certainly contribute towards that direction but some of the issues that a university has to take into account were reported to be the following:
What devices will it support
How these devices are going to be supported
Who will pay for software/apps required
If the university supplies hardware, who owns it (whose Apple id etc)
Which devices can access university systems
These questions set the scene for the rest of the day.
Fiona Harvey and Tamsyn Smith talked about their ‘iPads and alternative devices coffee club’ during which staff get together for coffee and a chat on various apps. Interesting idea that can generate informal networks for ideas exchange in the use of tablet devices for mobile learning.
Tim Cappelli form the University of Manchester Medical School disseminated information from their approach with medical students and explained why they did not follow a BYOD approach. These reasons included data security – which in their case were sensitive patient data – and homogeneity. However, Tim acknowledged the fact that the single platform approach is not without issues; those include high initial outlay, tablet fatigue and may make it hard to find an exit strategy.
Prof Steven Furnell from Plymouth University gave a talk ‘Your device – Everybody’s problem?’ in which he highlighted the dilemmas between pre-selected devices and BYOD in terms of ownership and management but also highlighted the security issues that mobile devices are prone to, including loss, theft, security passwords and malware.
Katie Spires, a Web Science PhD student from UoS shared her experiences on how some iPad Apps and the In class App in particular can be helpful as an assistive technology for organising one’s learning.
Following that, Adrian Halnan from the School of Education at UoS shared his reflections from BYOD as part of one of the modules he taught; this highlighted the advantages and limitations of students bringing their own device. An interesting point made by Adrian was that while the advantages of BYOD – familiarity, personalisation, access to own software, flexibility around study patterns/note taking and portability – were more related with students’ learning, the limitations of BYOD – lack of charging stations, printing problems, network reliability, some programs being unavailable – had to do primarily with management issues.
John Schulz, also from the School of Education at UoS offered his experiences from his School in which iPads are given as weekly loans to some mature students and army students during their on-campus residentials. The tablet devices have commonly used apps downloaded on them and as they are backed-up on the cloud, they can easily be restored and reused.
The day closed with an overview of the Students as Digital Literacies Champions (Digichamps) from the DL Digichamps at UoS