Mobile Technologies for Enhancing Distance Learning in Tanzania: An Exploratory Study
This exploratory study on m-learning was designed for two purposes. The first purpose was to identify the extent to which the Open University of Tanzania uses mobile phone to communicate with the distance learners on administrative and academic matters. The second purpose was to identify the distance learners’ capacity to afford mobile phones, their level of mobile phone usage and the learners’ envisaged opportunities and challenges in mobile phones use for enhancing learning. Both quantitative and qualitative approaches were used in data collection and analysis. Results showed that (a) The Open University of Tanzania rarely uses mobile phone to contact students; (b) while mobile phones are affordable and hence are accessible to majority of learners the type and capacity of the mobile phones owned cannot accommodate extensive pedagogical use; (c) running costs for large scale use of mobile technology may prove unsustainable for the majority of learners whose disposable income is low and this constitute a hurdle for large scale pedagogical use; and (d) the student-student and student-tutor mobile communication for academic and administrative issues is relatively low. The efficacy of mobile technologies for pedagogical purposes is discussed in relation to the need for blending teaching and learning strategies in ODL and further research.
Keywords: Open and distance learning, mobile phone, e-learning, m-learning