Students are using mobile technology for learning more than ever before to the extent that it now forms a critical part of their academic success.
Mobile technologies offer rich and diverse media applications that let users integrate photos, videos, text
and provide real-time recording and analysis tools that can be used anywhere and anytime. Inquiry-based learning is the type of learning approach in which learners get in touch with authentic situations to explore and solve problems. Learners explore, investigate and observe and become more involved in social interactions and higher level thinking. In inquiries, learners develop a deeper understanding of the subject with positive participation, on-task behavior and rich collaboration. It also empowers their ownership and sets the path for self-directed learning by increasing learners’ involvement and responsibility for their own learning. Inquiry-based learning encourages learners to be active participants in their own learning, rather than being passive recipients of knowledge.
Mobile learning environments provide a plethora of possibilities for inquiry-based learning. The handheld, wireless mobile devices extend the learning experience to outside the classroom and also enhance the thinking abilities of the learners. Using them, learners can record information, organize ideas, assess, interact and collaborate with peers. On field trips students can use their mobile devices to explore the place, gather information and take notes. They can record their observations and take pictures quickly, with Internet access they can search for even more information. They can synthesize and categorize their data and share them with fellow students, leading to discussions and feedbacks which simulate higher level thinking. Inquiry-based mobile learning expands students’ depth of knowledge; the knowledge acquired through this learning is dynamic and can be expanded according to students’ exploration.
There are various ways in which Mobile Technology can help in Inquiry-Based learning:
Within one device students can do multiple tasks like conduct research, record interviews, gather data, take notes, document events, collaborate with peers, create multimedia projects and share their work.
Mobile devices can be used to gather rich data in the form of text, audio, image, video, etc.
They can support real-time interaction for real-time communication and feedback of learners with their instructors and the larger community.
Student interest is maintained and engagement is increased, which is much required to perform authentic investigations and research to support inquiry-based learning.
Students can use multiple data capture methods with annotated photos, GPS coordinates, etc., to gather and analyze data thoroughly.
Mobile device technology reduces the amount of time and work required in data entry and research and also improves the quality of the learning experience.
Having personal devices makes students responsible for their own learning by designing their research projects from developing the question and methods to data collection and analysis to presenting their research.
Students can access relevant digital resources such as identification guides, weather records and maps and specific apps like Twitter, Skype, etc., for communication.
Students can have continuous access to research groups to connect with a greater scientific community.
There are various apps available on mobile devices which facilitate inquiry-based learning. These apps can be used by educators and students for designing inquiry questions, identifying problems, planning projects, integrating assessments, assisting with the management and location of research materials, creating multimedia projects, and connecting with an audience. They offer immense possibilities and continue to evolve with updates. Some such apps are; for the inquiry process of tuning in by watching, questioning, thinking, observing, reading, Safari, YouTube, BrainPop can be used, for supporting student as a problem solver, critical thinker, collaborator, communicator, creator, use Lino, Podcast, Evernote, for collecting, curating, searching, gathering, identifying a topic, and connecting with others, use Skype, Google Earth, Diigo, Twitter, for synthesizing information by interpreting, comparing, reviewing, sorting, formulating and analyzing use Skitch, Socrative, Dropbox, Calendar, Google Drive, etc.
Overall, using mobile technology to support inquiry-based learning has a positive impact on student engagement. This technology can facilitate the research projects significantly, enabling additional opportunities for data collection, communication, and troubleshooting. The ability for real-time use of social media further enhances learning and engagement, and feedback and input from experts validates the experiences. It allows students to have a more customized learning pace and process and receive individual attention and learning guidance. It helps students with low learning achievements to perform better, as now they learn by doing and seeing instead of memorizing.
I can see a clear benefit of mobile technology in inquiry-based learning, and see much potential for its continued use. What do you feel about the use of mobile technology for inquiry-based learning? Share your views and experiences with us. Make comments in the Comment Box.