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Student devices in online environments

As part of the ID2ID Program, we are required to attend professional development events in order to keep up with current events. Today, we were presented with a webinar titled Student Device Preferences for Online Course Access and Multimedia Learning, presented by researchers at Oregon State.


This presentation opened my eyes to the idea and actual usage of mobile devices in online education. Based on conversations with individuals in the field - I thought the direction of education would be more focused on the use of mobile devices in learning. It was interesting to see that while mobile devices are used for convenience that actually 73% of students preferred laptops for accessing their LMS homepage (Dello Stitto & Linder, 2018).

There were four devices that were researched - desktop, laptop, smartphone, and tablets. There were only a few students who reported borrowing devices (as many provided they had their own). This data was not surprising (to me). What was surprising was that students reported that laptop and desktop computers were both considered preferred and ideal devices to use in terms of viewing multimedia. In fact, of the four devices, smartphones were the least effective for accessing their LMS. I do wonder if the type of LMS would make a difference. For this study, Canvas was the primary LMS used. I wonder if different LMSs appear differently on mobile devices. For example, does Blackboard work better on mobile devices over Canvas?

When discussing with a PhD student in our own program, he was curious of how this data would change if the population was changed to working adults not in educational programs (the use of mobile devices for learning outside of education programs among working adults). I think it brings up a valid point on how those who are enrolled or going to enroll in online programs typically purchase laptops because they think it is what they should be using. Once enrolled they start using laptops and then find it is the best method for accessing their courses. However, for those in a pinch, they use smartphones.

This conversation and the data from this survey made me think about how we are aiming and developing our educational experiences. While we are trying to create and develop interactive pieces into our classrooms and online environments - should we be trying to create elements for laptops and desktops rather than mobile devices? Here, I've been thinking that the future was smartphones, but it could be possible that we've been trying to fit a square peg in a round hole. Or, could it be, that we are just not "there" yet?

What are your experiences with mobile learning? Where do you think it is heading? Did the results of this survey shock you or help validate thoughts you already have?


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