Background to the challenge
In recent times there has been considerable publicity and news stories around the world that concern what is deemed to be ‘inappropriate’ use of mobile technologies by young people, especially within formal education. Despite a wealth of research based studies demonstrating the educational value of using mobile devices to support learning, teachers, schools and many parts of the media, frequently voice concern related to the use of personal mobile devices by students in school. These include concerns about pupils texting when they should be working; the use of social networking sites to bully fellow pupils and the posting of videos of their teachers on site such as YouTube. The cumulative effect of stories and reports like these has led some schools and educational authorities to ban the use of personal mobile devices, even when they have the potential to be powerful learning tools.
The Maekok River Village outdoor education centre, in northern Thailand, is visited by students and schools from across and beyond Asia. It offers a wide range of educational activities and courses that include geography, environmental studies, biology and sciences, social studies and history. It also supports a wide range of outdoor adventurous activities and community projects and a wide variety of outward bound and team building activities. The centre offers residential accommodation for students and teachers who use the centre as a base for many educational and social activities designed to enable students to experience the unique environment and setting of northern Thailand. Students invariably bring their mobile devices along with them and this challenge involves creating a resource for the centre that demonstrates to visiting teachers and their students how they could use their mobile devices in ways that are educationally beneficial rather than distractful or disruptive. The resource could take many forms (e.g. an interactive guide or an eBook) but it should clearly demonstrate examples of how students would use their mobile devices to support their learning or as part of their outward bound activities.