Travelling together and sitting alongside: How might the use of mobile devices enhance the professional learning of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander pre-service teachers in remote communities?

Author: Philip Townsend

Townsend, Philip, 2017 Travelling together and sitting alongside: How might the use of mobile devices enhance the professional learning of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander pre-service teachers in remote communities?, Flinders University, School of Education

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Completion rates for community-based initial teacher education (ITE) programs in two states of Australia (South Australia and Queensland) are low. Over the past decade, the national rate for completion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students in teacher training was 36%, whereas in the two community-based ITE programs it was less than 15%. Literature in the field indicates that use of mobile devices in education can enhance motivation and increase the likelihood students will successfully finish a course. This research was designed to explore the perspectives and practices of participants about the use of mobile devices in their study.

A mixed methods approach was used to obtain data. Qualitative data was obtained at 15 sites from 64 volunteers (55 females and 9 males) who participated in semi-structured face-to-face interviews and focus groups. Quantitative data was obtained through a survey from 16 volunteer participants. An interpretivist phronetic stance was adopted as an ethical decision to recognise the values of both the research participants and the researcher. A constructivist Grounded Theory approach was used to generate a theory of enhancing professional development through the use of mobile devices.

Most of the participants used mobile devices for educational purposes, such as accessing content, handling administration, sharing personal encouragement and collaborating for academic support. The use of mobile devices facilitated their ability, as adults, to be self-directed in their learning with regard to place and time of study. Participants believed that use of mobile devices helped them finish work more quickly. They suggested that aspects of mobile learning fit with elements of cultural philosophies.

The significance of the findings is that they provide evidence on which a Grounded Theory was constructed, which articulated ways the use of mobile devices enhances the professional learning of these pre-service teachers. New knowledge was created through an explanation of the adoption of mobile devices based on congruencies between aspects of mobile learning and elements of cultural philosophies. A novel researcher orientation was presented which emphasised similarities between notions in Aboriginal and ancient Greek cultures about processes of making friends. A researcher with this orientation endeavours to be “one who comes alongside”.

The implications of the research are that if training providers support the use of mobile learning in community-based ITE programs then it is likely that completion rates will increase. This will mean a larger pool of qualified Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander graduates becoming registered teachers and being employed in very remote communities or elsewhere.

Keywords: initial teacher education, mobile devices, mobile learning, professional learning, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, pre-service teachers, remote communities

Subject: Education thesis

Thesis type: Doctor of Philosophy
Completed: 2017
School: School of Education
Supervisor: Emeritus Professor Dr R. John Halsey FACE FACEL(SA)