Research in Zambia investigated mobile forms of digital technology used
to embed interactive forms of teaching and learning into classroom
practice. The project explored what kinds of mobile devices and uses can
create an environment supportive of learning through active
participation and collaborative inquiry within under-resourced and
under-privileged school communities. It also examined the constraining
factors. The specific focus was on using netbook, tablet and laptop
computers, e-Book and wiki readers, digital cameras and mini-projectors
along with Open Educational Resources and Open Source software to
support students' learning in mathematics and science. A variety of
educational ICTs in two Zambian primary schools were evaluated over 30
visits in a period of 6 months. Data collection methods included
interviews, post-lesson surveys, classroom observations, and video
recordings. The work was carried out by Aptivate in conjunction with the
Centre for Commonwealth Education at the University of Cambridge, and
with iSchool Zambia.
Recommendations from the research are as follows:
- ICTs should be procured in sets comprising a teacher laptop and
student laptops, as well as provision for storage and transport.
- Continuing professional development opportunities are essential for
teachers to become familiar with the mobile technologies and to make
creative use of them.
- ICTs should be used in conjunction with non-ICT resources, such as
mini blackboards, because these add significant value cheaply.
- Robust and cheap netbooks (e.g. the Classmate netbook) are presently
the best candidates for classroom use. Android-based tablets can
support interactive, collaborative learning effectively but
technically (in version 2.2) they are not yet ready (early 2011).
Keyboard-based data entry in Flash games can be particularly
difficult. However, devices running Android 3.0 should be considered
for future procurements, including an investigation of suitable
onscreen keyboard or docking stations.
- Mixing devices within a single class is not recommended, but if more
than one class set of computers was procured, it may make sense to
purchase a set of netbooks (for tasks requiring a standard operating
system), as well as a set of tablets. However, cost and
setup/maintenance issues need to be considered
- Teacher and student laptops need to be configured well so that effort
expended in lesson preparation is not prohibitive.
- Resource sharing with student laptops needs to be considered; local
wireless networks can be deployed effectively to achieve this.
- Teachers want laptops to allow them to study outside of school.
Microfinance could allow teachers to buy laptops which would build
their skills and promote successful application of ICTs in schools.
Apitivate, Cambridge, UK/Centre for Commonwealth Education, University of Cambridge, UK, 74 pp.