Current Topic Six, ED 650

In turn, this Current Topic is aimed at doing a quick dive into a literature review for my project proposal. I am again interested in very recent research. This is not meant to be an exhaustive literature review. Rather it is a survey too quickly take the pulse.

Fortunately, Ally et al. in their essay Use of Tablet Computer to Improve Access to Education in a Remote Location, touch on issues relevant to us here in Southwest Alaska. Their project was conducted in Swat, Pakistan. Like us, they needed to expose learners to devices and technology, however, internet access was non-existent. They used an Aptus server to support the tablets. These servers simulate an online experience and provide access to open educational resources. The devices are cheap at $100. Learners can use tablets or computers in conjunction with it and become familiar with devices and skills relevant to the broader online environment.

The Aptus model is ironically a concept that occurred to me when I was in St. Paul, Pribilof Islands. Their internet service is through cellular service. However, in the town, a fiber optic network has been constructed so the local area network is quite good. Indeed, one of the pass times is playing console games. I wondered what kind of learning resources we could set up and deliver locally through their local network.

This particular project aimed at high school age learners. The content was different for each grade. The approach was blended aimed at getting the learners to work independently and or collaboratively as a peer group. The pre-test revealed that nearly 80% of the cohort had no previous experience with devices or online learning. The pre-and post-test showed significant improvements. In a sense, this research tells us a lot of what we know about learners using online resources.  What is interesting is the proof of concept that we might be able to make more of here in remote, rural Alaska.

The second article, “Mobile-Assisted Seamless Learning Activities in Higher Distance Education” is much more focused on the effective pedagogical use of mobile devices in distance presentation of higher education. Mobile technologies included smart-phones, tablets, and laptops.  Flipping the classroom and creating synchronous online cohort meetings we also key to the study. The author adopts and builds on a six-part theoretical model.

  1. formal and informal learning
  2. personal and social learning
  3. learning across time
  4. learning across location
  5. ubiquitous knowledge access
  6. physical and digital spaces

The study cohort was vocational teachers working on certification. The cohort was just forty so difficult to generalize from. The researcher reported on technical difficulties with the “e-meeting” system where video and audio connections were unreliable and required much troubleshooting and user training. Again the results are somewhat to be expected as we know already that when done will online learning, with the added convenience of ubiquitous devices and access, can be a powerful learning experience.

The third article, “Education Working Group Management using Digital Tablets” is several years old. However, it like the first article is focused on specific technology. In this case, the study examines the use of applications in service of building students teamwork skills. The course the authors focused on was a college entry-level engineering course. The projects students selected as groups varied widely, however, the instructors standardized the tools used the methods they used to manage and monitor the groups.

The authors reviewed six cloud computing tools,

  • Dropbox
  • SkyDrive
  • Google Drive
  • 4Sync
  • SugarSync
  • Box

The selected Dropbox for the purposes of their teaching. For managing the classwork they selected TeacherKit from among several:

  • Teacher Tool
  • Teacher Assistant
  • Teacher Aide Pro
  • Visual GradeBook

For monitoring students collaborative work they used Notability and reviewed:

  • New Notes
  • Notes Plus
  • Not Taker HD

Because some of the software for the projects could not be run on tablets they also managed tablet access to a computer where the needed software could be run. They selected LogMeIn:

  • Team Viewer
  • Jump Desktop
  • RDP remote desktop

So, despite this article being four years old, it offered some very concrete solutions for configuring a tablet for group work. The remote login app as well offers a fruitful solution which may have application in our rural site.



Ally, M., Balaji, V., Abdelbaki, A., & Cheng, R. (2017). Use of Tablet Computers to Improve Access to Education in a Remote Location. Journal Of Learning For Development4(2), 221-228.

Mobile-Assisted Seamless Learning Activities in Higher Distance Education. (2017). International Journal of Higher Education, (3), 70. doi:10.5430/ijhe.v6n3p70

Saorin, J. L., Torre, J. L., Martín, N., & Carbonell, C. (2013). Education Working Group Management using Digital Tablets. Procedia – Social And Behavioral Sciences93(3rd World Conference on Learning, Teaching and Educational Leadership), 1569-1573. doi:10.1016/j.sbspro.2013.10.083


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