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The theme of educational technologies is not new. A number of countries are eager to implement modern initiatives and make an educational process easier for students and teachers. The United Arab Emirates takes a leading role in using various technological devices and promoting interesting ideas about the worth of iPad as one of the possible educational computing platforms (Cavanaugh et al. 2012). Cavanaugh et al. develop the article about the iPad initiatives in the educational process in the UAE and present a thoughtful literature review and an informative, descriptive statistical analysis within the frames of which such sessions like content, technological (TK), pedagogical (PK), and technological pedagogical knowledge (TPK) are described to prove that mobile technologies can change the way of how education is offered to the UAE people.
The article written by Cavanaugh et al. is a credible source of information that can be used by different groups of people. For example, teachers can find it interesting because the authors focus on several pre-implementation pedagogical practices. Students can learn more about their possibilities with iPads. Researchers get a good basis for their further investigations in the sphere of educational technologies.
The main research problem discussed in the article is the inability to find the answers to all questions about iPadagogy and numerous attempts of many students and teachers to prove that active learning is more effective than the type of education improved by mobile technologies.
Regarding the challenges and multiple attitudes to the defined research problem, the authors’ goal is to prove that the development of iPad pedagogy is a crucial step to be taken in the sphere of education because people should not only analyze and implement the practices but also understand the reasons for why they should work with the chosen concept.
Cavanaugh et al. (2012) pose one main question in their project: they want to identify the extent to which faculty shared practices can display the worth of TPCK (technological pedagogical content knowledge) before implementing the iPad programs in classrooms. Still, is it enough to clear up the extent and neglect the role of such factors as gender, experience, and even the desire of people to combine technologies and education. The authors do not give the answer to such questions but offer a good ground for further research.
Nowadays, much information about educational technologies and iPad initiatives in the UAE can be found online. For example, when a person uses GoogleScholar, he/she gets access to a number of credible sources. The article by Cavanaugh et al. is not the only work that offers a powerful overview of the iPad initiatives implemented in the UAE institutions. The projects by such prominent researchers like Gitsaki et al. (2013), Ally (2013), or Al-Emran and Shaalan (2015) help to create a clear picture of how iPads or other mobile technologies may influence a learning process and open new perspectives. All sources taken for the development of the current critique are reliable as they are taken from popular local research journals like Learning and Teaching in Higher Education: Gulf Perspectives and internationally accept peer-reviewed sources like the International Journal of Interactive Mobile Technologies. The authors choose different methods to support their hypotheses and gather data from various sources.
Their approaches differ from each other; still, as a rule, they come to the same conclusion, similar to the ideas offered by Cavanaugh et al. about the role of iPads in education and the evident impossibility to avoid spreading various mobile technologies in learning processes. In the UAE, institutions adopt iPads as the platform in order to facilitate the chosen pedagogy and various learning environments offered to students (Cavanaugh et al. 2013). The literature review offered by Cavanaugh et al. shows that different Apple mobile devices have been offered to several Arab colleges during the last decade. Almost all students demonstrated their deep interest in the implementation of such an idea and the abilities to learn more about the possibilities available to them with iPads. The UAE male students are interested in the technological aspects of the initiative. The UAE female students are not always ready to accept the idea of complete dependence on technologies in their educations. Still, time is changing, and the priorities can be changed as well.
The UAE is the region with a variety of opinions and attitudes to the same issue. E-Learning is a popular practice, and the iPad initiatives have to be properly investigated to understand how learning materials can be delivered via iPads and how students should choose devices and use them properly to achieve the best results (Ally 2013). The case studies offered by Gitsaki et al. (2013) explain that iPads and other technologies can enhance student understanding of the learning process. The POE design used by Al-Emran and Shaalan (2015) describes the attitudes of different people to m-learning. The UAE students are more eager to use mobile technologies in their education and enjoy the possibilities available with iPads.
All these articles help to understand one simple truth about e-learning and students’ attitude to this initiative: young students are usually eager to use the devices they get access to every day. People use their mobiles, find and share information via the Internet, and exchange photos from the iPads. All these processes do not take much time, and people are satisfied with the possibility to save time, money, and efforts. Education itself is a complicated process. If students have a chance to spend less time searching for information or taking some quizzes, and teachers may share the required learning material to all students within a short period, these opportunities cannot be ignored. Still, not all faculties are sure of the quality of the offered implementations. Therefore, it is necessary to evaluate the nature of all sessions within the frames of which the iPad programs can be implemented and analyzed beforehand (Cavanaugh et al. 2012).
In my opinion, the study offered by Cavanaugh et al. contributes considerably to the evaluation of the iPad initiatives in the UAE. The design of the study is the combination of the literature review as the basis for the work to be done and the descriptive statistical analysis through which frequencies of different categories are taken into consideration. The design is the authors’ attempt to describe and analyze the consequences of the program under which people are able to learn more about iPads and their participation in an education process. I think that the chosen method of evaluation is interesting and powerful, indeed. Still, the authors do not pay much attention to the theoretical explanation of the steps that should be taken and the supportive aspect of their work. In other words, Cavanaugh et al. admit that they are going to use an Excel spreadsheet for their abstract analysis, but they do not find it necessary to share this table and its information with the reader and prove that their work is without any shortages. Among the variety of studies and sources used by Cavanaugh et al. in their research, it is possible to define the sample that is used in the UAE’s iPad program that was introduced for higher education in the Abu Dhabi Women’s College.
Sixty-eight presenters organized 51 sessions for 450 people to prove the importance of the iPad’s adaptation. Though the authors give a link to the call for proposal of the National iCelebrate Teaching and Learning event (Cavanaugh et al. 2012, p. 5), it turns out to be impossible to check the credibility of the source and make sure all information is real. At the same time, Cavanaugh et al. continue developing an interesting descriptive statistical analysis identifying such phases like content, TK, PK, and TPK and analyzing students’ and teachers’ attitudes to the iPad initiatives. The results of the analysis prove that people do not have a certain position in regards to the iPad initiative implementation in the UAE. On the one hand, students and the majority of teachers responded positively to the idea of educational technologies’ improvement. On the other hand, the level of the mobile, innovative integration is limited, and any educational innovations require more time and effort to explain all its benefits to people.
The SAMR model (substitution, augmentation, modification, and redefinition) also helps to make the necessary conclusions and understand the true worth of iPads in teaching and learning processes and identify the extent to which teaching and learning tasks may be improved. At the end of their project, the authors introduce a new concept (iPadagogy in practice) that helps to make informed decisions and understand what can improve education in terms of research, comparative analysis, creativity, and even professional development (Cavanaugh et al. 2012). IPadagogy is defined as an important aspect that becomes the basis for educational technologies implemented nowadays.
Cavanaugh et al. concluded that people do want to use some new technologies in the education process. However, they are not ready to apply to the requirements set. It is necessary to promote iPadagogy to help people benefit from the technological aspects of education and explain why UAE institutions should support the promotion of similar iPedagogical programs. E-Learning and Teaching can be considerably improved by means of iPads and other mobile technologies. The article created by Cavanaugh et al. is a good source of information that is based on the facts. Though the authors do not find it necessary to provide some Excel data, their analysis, literature review, and the attention to the current educational situation make the reader believes in the power of their thought and the necessity to continue investigating educational technologies and the use of iPads by the UAE students in particular. In spite of the existing shortages and the necessity of some sections’ improvements, I find this article as an educative and informative work that makes the reader think about the worth of the technological progress and the possibility to improve the sphere of education in a short period.
Glossary of Key Terms
- Educational technology – is the way of how different technological tools may be used in learning
- E-learning – is a form of education that is based on the use of electronic technologies like computers to promote better and faster delivery of information
- M-learning – is one of the possible evolutions of e-learning that is characterized by more effective communicative abilities and more powerful mechanisms of personalization
- iPadagogy – is a well-founded educational practice offered to the UAE students and faculty members and aimed at explaining how to use mobile technologies in education.
Al-Emran, M & Shaalan, K 2015, ‘Attitudes towards the use of mobile learning: a case study from the Gulf region’, International Journal of Interactive Mobile Technologies, vol. 9, no. 3, pp. 75-78.
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Ally, M 2013, ‘Mobile learning: from research to practice to impact education, Learning and Teaching in Higher Education: Gulf Perspectives, vol. 10, no. 2, pp. 1-10.
Cavanaugh, C, Hargis, J, Munns, S & Kamali, T 2012, ‘iCelebrate teaching and learning: sharing the iPad experience’, Journal of Teaching and Learning with Technology, vol. 1, no. 2, pp. 1-12.
Gitsaki, C, Robby, M, Priest, T, Hamdan, K & Ben-Chabane, Y 2-13. ‘A research agenda for the UAE iPad initiative, Learning and Teaching in Higher Education: Gulf Perspectives, vol. 10, no. 2, pp. 1-15.