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Title: The pedagogical affordances of smartphone applications for collaborative learning (CL) amongst pre-service teachers in Kuwait
Author: Alfelaij, Bader
ISNI:       0000 0004 5991 9732
Awarding Body: University of Exeter
Current Institution: University of Exeter
Date of Award: 2015
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Multiple technological tools are used on a regular basis these days, e.g. PCs, laptops, iPads and smartphones. They are constantly becoming faster, reducing in size and offer more and more functions, which encourages their use anywhere and at any time. The portability and ubiquity of smartphone communications technology has encouraged educators and policy-makers around the world to incorporate it into teaching and learning. However, portability and ubiquity are not the only pedagogical affordance smartphones (and apps) offer; e.g. social interactivity, context sensitivity, connectivity and individuality are also represented (Klopfer et al., 2002). In this study, I have discussed some of these; the main thesis focus is on the pedagogical affordances of smartphone apps, especially a smartphone app (i.e. WhatsApp) to support collaborative learning (CL) amongst pre-service teachers under the Kuwait Public Authority for Applied Education and Training (PAAET). The main research question: ‘Is WhatsApp useful in enhancing collaboration amongst pre-service teachers at PAAET? If so, then how and why is it useful?’ is divided into several sub-questions on students’ perspectives of CL, amongst other relevant issues. The main study approach adopted is qualitative, including several methods (interviews, observation, focus groups, field notes, and Interactional Analysis (IA)), in order to gain insights into M-learning, mobile computer supported collaborative learning (MCSCL), CL, and participatory simulation (PS). PS involves new roles – the role of a real teacher instead of a pre-service teacher. The participants (n=65 in the first iteration, and n=59 in the second iteration) were successfully engaged in two iterations of design-based research (DBR), where their voices were crucial throughout. The use of smartphone apps (i.e. WhatsApp) by the students was evaluated, with information on student usage obtained via various channels. The data was analysed using a thematic analysis approach. The findings support the key theory that unique affordances are offered by smartphone apps (i.e. WhatsApp) for CL, enhancing learning opportunities with the support of PS activities. However, it was found that there are also challenges presented by the integration of technology into PAAET and the Kuwaiti context. These findings have important implications for both theory and practice and the integration of smartphone apps into the collaborative educational status quo. Furthermore, they should expand our understanding of the pedagogical affordances of smartphone apps for CL in a specific context (PAAET), although there are limitations to the current study and recommendations for further work are ultimately presented.
Supervisor: Wegerif, Rupert Sponsor: Kuwait Cultural Office, UK
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: M-learning ; Education Technology