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Service Learning with the use of mobile technologies in Higher Education
Daniel J Y Chun

Last modified: 2014-05-12

Abstract


Many higher education institutions and teaching faculties in Hong Kong have been successfully developing various credit-bearing Service Learning courses. These courses often require the students to participate in projects and real work activities at a charity or community organization in such a way that the students will be able to gain real working experience. The concept of service learning has been well researched in United States, United Kingdom and also Australia. In places like Australia, it is sometimes referred as placement; in Hong Kong it is sometimes referred to as the final year project. The students that are assigned to the community organization by the university administration or teaching faculties have to contribute a minimum effort to achieve the objectives during the durations of the engagement and these may include project planning, coordination, execution, review and also writing a final reflection report.  The supervisors at the community organization will often participate and communicate with the teaching faculty on the learning objectives, outcomes and assessment principles.

 

The use of modern day communication technologies and the Internet is becoming popular in informal learning and outside of classroom. The use of mobile technologies in the context of service learning is even more profound given the fact that the students are often learning and working on these service learning projects remotely. The need for an efficient collaboration and communication platform amongst the supervisor or employers at the community organization and the students will become even more critical to achieve the intended learning outcomes. Upon reviewing various literatures, it reveals that very few studies of the use of mobile technologies in service learning in higher education has been conducted.

 

This short paper intends to highlight the author’s case study experience being a researcher in mobile learning and also a practitioner at a charity organization in Hong Kong taking the role of the supervisor for supervising students from different universities in Hong Kong. This paper has uncovered some best practices that may prove to be useful to other  instructors and faculty members who are interested to develop and implement service learning projects. The author will also continue this study in the use of mobile technologies in the area of service learning as a work in progress leading to the final doctoral thesis. The paper will also suggest how further research work can be conducted using the activity theory as a framework to study the effectiveness of using various mobile technologies and education resources for improving the outcomes of service learning.