User Generated Education

Education as it should be – passion-based.

Mobile Learning: End of Course Student Survey Part II

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This is the second of two posts on student perceptions of mobile learning integration within an undergraduate course on Interpersonal Relations.  It combines two semesters’ worth of student surveys.


As is true for many of us using educational technology in the classroom, we are experimenting with how technology can enhance the learning experiences of our students.  Sometimes we have failures, often times we have successes.  Yet, in this age of evidenced-based education, educators, administrators, and other decision-makers are depending on and using the data gleamed from large studies often completed by companies with vested interests, e.g. Gates Foundation, book publishers, and testing companies.

Educators can easily conduct action research about the practices they are using in their own classrooms especially given the ease of creating online surveys and data collection methods.  Yet, it seems that it is rarely done.

For example, I introduced Quest Atlantis into my gifted classes a few years ago and asked these 3rd through 5th graders to complete a survey to assess its efficacy from the student perspective.  The results I received were rich and informative.  The kids offered great feedback, ideas, and suggestions.  See Beyond the Game: Quest Atlantis as an Online Learning Experience for Gifted Elementary Students.

So if educators want to influence what occurs in not only their own classrooms, but in the classrooms of their co-teachers, then they need to invest the time and energy to demonstrate best practices.  In a related blog, I discuss Every Educator Has a Story . . . Just Tell It.

End-of-Course Survey

The two sections of Interpersonal Relations course were offered during Fall, 2011 and early Winter, 2012.  There were 20 students in the sections – eight were male, 12 female; 16 of the students were 17 to 20 years old, one was 25 year old male, another a 40 year old female, and two of the  students were females in their fifties.  All of them had/owned some type of mobile device.  No two of the owned devices were of the same make or model.

The first section of the survey listed all of the class activities that used the students’ cell phones.  I blogged about the individual activities.  The archive of these blog posts can be found at User-Generated Education tagged with mobile learning.

As can be seen by these results, most students rated most of the mobile-driven activities to be of some value in helping them understand the concepts being discussed/covered.  Students were them asked to identify their least and most favorite activities.  The most favorable activity was Building Communications.  The least favorite did not identify any consistent activity.  A few mentioned that there were none, “They were all pretty good.”

Do you feel that using students’ mobile phones during class time was a good idea? Why or why not?

  • Yes, it was great learning new technology and interacting with each other via phones.
  • Yes I do because it brings our generations technology and learning.
  • Yes I do feel it is a good idea. I believe technology is growing so much that mobile phones are vital in today’s communication.
  • There were some things about people calling with different providers which would be annoying.
  • Yes, I liked it because I know how to use it so well.
  • I do, but with my phone, it didn’t work well.
  • I thought it made the time go by faster because we were learning a different way. But some other students took advantage of this and used it as personal time.
  • Yes I do because it gets more involved in our lives.
  • Yes, it gave us the ability to open up and be ourselves.
  • Yes, I did. We are in a technological age, it is time to accept that.
  • Yes, it made things more entertaining.
  • Yes and no. we could have done the same on the computer.
  • I think it was in the middle because I would get distracted.
  • Yes because it helped us use our cell phones for good use in activities.
  • Yes. I think it was because you go to learn more things about people
  • Yea. Cell phones are a big past of society these days.

As can be seen in these results, there was an overwhelming positive response to mobile device use in the class.  A few problems were noted but no students reported a purely negative response to their use.  The reasons stated for positive feelings about mobile device use seemed to revolve around three themes:

  1. Technology is part of today’s world.
  2. It made the activities more engaging and interesting.
  3. It provided the means for learning to be more personal.

What was the greatest advantage of using students’ mobile phones to get to know one another and build a sense of community in the class?

  • It was nice to use them and not have to hide them and it connected the class because one way or another we all got each others numbers.
  • I think people are a lot more open on their phones so I believe it helped us get to know each other more. Also we were able to show pictures of important people in our life so that I feel personalized it.
  • The greatest advantage was how we could text and get to know each other.
  • Ease of communication.
  • You got to know the students better.
  • It made us open up to one another because we had to connect at a more social level.
  • It was something that we use everyday so it related back to us
  • To get a better experience from the class and enjoy coming to class.
  • It was something they were familiar with.
  • It provided us with a common ground on which to get to know each other.
  • We got to talk to each other outside of class, not just when we were in class.
  • The students use their phones on a regular basis.
  • That we didn’t waste paper.
  • Getting the other students numbers and exchanging phone numbers to get to know one another.
  • You got to know the people better though them
  • We were able to communicate outside of class and create friendships.

The student responses centered around the social nature of mobile devices adding to their feelings getting to know one another.  Several students mentioned that it provided them with a forum to open up with other students.

What was the biggest problem in using students’ mobile devices during class time?

  • People who did not have unlimited texting, or did not have a phone..
  • Sometimes your phone wouldn’t be charged and you wouldn’t be able to participate in the activity.
  • I think some of the students were confused on some of the activities.
  • It distracted me because I kept texting and not focusing
  • Lack of technological compatibility.
  • People text other people other than the class mates.
  • I didn’t always remember to charge my cellular device so I thought it was going to die.
  • People would abuse it and text friends and do other things that the activity wasn’t for.
  • Caused outside social distractions
  • The students were tempted to use the phones for personal use.
  • Not everyone brought their mobile device.
  • Students had more of a chance to get distracted.
  • Some didn’t work.
  • The service was bad because i would send a text and it would show up ten minuets later.
  • Some people texted when they should have been participating.
  • I didn’t see any problems.

Not surprisingly, the responses centered around two themes: distraction and not having a device/device that worked for the activities.

In addition, students wrote a final course reflection.  What follows are some comments regarding their significant overall course learning.

I think I learned more about myself in the building structure unit then I did in the whole quarter.  I always thought of myself as having the potential to be a leader but this activity helped me believe it.  When I was trying to help the others build this structure without actually being able to help was very difficult, I had to make my teammates feel confident enough to where they could achieve the end project.

The most significant learning would be the, “building the bridge” because that was fun to be able to know who would take charge and everything you said over the phone about what your team was building with the blocks would affect how there bridge would look. I had to be very precise and accurate, nearly perfect in order to get them to build it the same. Something I am going to improve on is the clarity of how I talk.

My favorite activity would have to be going around taking pictures of our emotions with the emoticons.  We really got to see everybody’s different personalities and see them open up on a different level.

I learned several ways to communicate effectively with others, especially during our build a bridge activity.

I appreciate that there were so many hands on activities to do and that we got to learn in a different style other than lecture or reading.

I enjoyed them all because I like doing hands on learning and I learn the best that way versus book work and paperwork. Being able to learn about something then put it to use during a couple activities actually helped me a lot to understand everything I was learning.

I personally enjoyed the activities quite a lot. They helped me learn the concepts effectively while also being enjoyable to participate in.

I really liked having the participation on Facebook as part of our assignments. It was nice to have discussions throughout the week with classmates about what we had done in class


This part is easy.  Based on student testimonials both through the survey and their end of course reflection paper, the following two themes emerged:

  • Students appreciated the use of mobile devices and believed they helped to increase their engagement.
  • Students appreciated and learned best through the use of experiential and hands-on activities.

This is in line with recent research.  An EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative report, Authentic Learning for the 21st Century: An Overview, states that “students say they are motivated by solving real-world problems. They often express a preference for doing rather than listening.  At the same time, most educators consider learning-by-doing the most effective way to learn.” and that the focus should be “on real-world, complex problems and their solutions, using role-playing exercises, problem-based activities, case studies, and participation in virtual communities of practice” (

Written by Jackie Gerstein, Ed.D.

March 25, 2012 at 6:10 pm

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