NUI Galway Lead International Study of Educational Technology during Covid-19 School Closures

Sep 09 2020 Posted: 11:52 IST

Study highlights that effective, continuous training for online and distance learning in education and teaching will be of critical importance in the event of recurring school closures

Researchers from NUI Galway’s School of Education have led the publication of a comparative study of learning with mobile technology in collaboration with universities and technology consultants in Europe, the UK and Australia.

The international team of researchers found a ‘digital use divide’ in learning with mobile technology in schools, highlighting the need for appropriate, continuous training and supports for teachers, alongside investment in devices and infrastructure.

Lead author on the study, Dr Tony Hall, Senior Lecturer in Educational Technology and Deputy Head of the School of Education, NUI Galway, said: “Looking at the history of pandemics and their impact on schooling, but also the differences between the current and previous viruses, there is the real risk of continuing school and campus closures. This means that mobile and distance learning will remain of crucial importance in supporting young people, parents, families, and teachers in ensuring continuity of learning where the pandemic makes learning at school impossible.

“A significant finding of our research, which looks at mobile technology in schools in six countries: Australia, Belgium, Cyprus, The Netherlands, UK, and Ireland, is a prevailing gap, not only in terms of those who have technology and access, but also those who can access the required expertise and support they need to use mobile devices effectively. Our study highlights that investment in providing technology alone will not be sufficient, especially if the situation necessitates the large-scale return to mobile and online learning – outside of classrooms.”

Through its work developing mobile devices and technologies collaboratively with teachers and schools, and like other projects internationally, Designing and Evaluating Innovative Mobile Pedagogies (DEIMP) has developed resources that can help provide real support to schools and teachers where they need to move their learning online.

Dr Hall continued: “The current situation also presents opportunities to rethink education, and to try to make it more inclusive and engaging for all young people, where we can lessen the pressures of formal examinations and assessments. For example, the current situation is reminding us of the importance of learning outside school, and in informal education environments. In our research for the European DEIMP Project, we have developed resources for teachers and educators to use, to guide and develop best practice, including an app, multimedia case studies, and an open online training course for mobile learning. We have also generated 21 principles for effective learning with mobile applications and devices, which can help to guide positive change through mobile learning in education, both in and outside of classrooms. These principles emphasize fundamentally important aspects of learning, education and teaching, including: authenticity, collaboration, and student choice.”

The research paper, “Education in precarious times: a comparative study across six countries to identify design priorities for mobile learning in a pandemic” is published in the international journal, Information and Learning Sciences is available at


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