Pedagogical Affordances, Challenges & Limitations of the iPad as it is Used in the Foundations Program of the Fujairah Higher Colleges of Technology in the United Arab Emirates
Ali, Barraq Hassoun
Date: 22 September 2015
University of Exeter
EdD in TESOL
The purpose of this study is to explore the integration of the iPad as a learning and teaching technology into the Foundations Program at the two Higher Colleges of Technology in Fujairah: Fujairah Men’s College (FMC) and Fujairah Women’s College (FWC) in the United Arab Emirates. The new technology was introduced to enable the Program’s ...
The purpose of this study is to explore the integration of the iPad as a learning and teaching technology into the Foundations Program at the two Higher Colleges of Technology in Fujairah: Fujairah Men’s College (FMC) and Fujairah Women’s College (FWC) in the United Arab Emirates. The new technology was introduced to enable the Program’s teachers and students to support their teaching and learning of English as a foreign language. Specifically, the study investigates how these teachers and students used the iPad’s technical affordances to create pedagogical affordances designed to construct and promote English language teaching and learning. It also examines the challenges they faced in doing so, the types of tasks and activities for which the new technology was used. Finally, it sheds light on the limitations of the iPad as perceived by these users as well as other relevant issues arising from the launch of the technology in the two colleges. The data for the research were drawn from class observations, interviews and surveys. Six Foundations Program classes were observed, five teachers were interviewed, five more teachers were asked one written research question, and ten students were asked another written research question. In addition, two surveys – one for the teachers and one for the students – were conducted to obtain further data. The study finds that the Foundations Program’s teachers and students used the iPad’s technical affordances effectively to construct activities that largely enhanced their teaching and learning by making it more interesting, and engaging. In doing so, they faced challenges that they tried to resolve and which had some impact on their teaching and learning. In addition, the study has identified a number of issues relating to the use of the iPad in the Program as well as what these iPad users perceived as limitations of the new technology. Finally, the study stresses the importance of conducting a pilot scheme prior to any proposed rollout of a new educational technology and suggests longitudinal studies with larger and more representative samples to assess and measure any contributions or lack thereof the iPad makes to the teaching and learning of English as a foreign language. I believe that the study contributes to the area of TESOL and mobile learning by its focus on the rich experience of two higher education colleges using the iPad as a teaching and learning technology in classes of Arab learners and by highlighting the challenges the teachers and students at these two colleges faced in their attempt to integrate the new technology in their context as well as what they perceived as the technology’s pedagogical and technical limitations. Another important contribution of the study is the exploration of other issues arising from the use of the iPad in the Fujairah colleges’ teaching and learning environment. It is also important to note that study findings could provide insights into the integration of the iPad into the foundations programs of the other fifteen colleges in the Higher Colleges of Technology system given the similarities these colleges share with the two Fujairah colleges. Neither would it be an exaggeration to suggest that these findings could also provide an insight into the experience of using the iPad in similar learning environments in other UAE educational institutions.
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