Current educational uses of handheld devices, more often than not, have been concerned with planned or controlled practices. The learners hardly have had any chances to explore how handheld devices would be used to benefit their learning. Second, in many cases, current handheld educational uses have been replicating the old practices using desktop computers such as content delivery and presentation, games and simulations, or managing. Such applications have allowed the learners restrained freedom to choose what they think appropriate and useful for them. These educational practices usually have gone hand in hand with their offsetting consequences. Besides, classroom use of the handheld devices together with other technologies usually has achieved limited interaction or collaboration but involved complicated and expensive system design at the expense of other interactive practices. These applications have over-stressed how to use the technology, but de-emphasised other contextual factors. Third, innovative educational uses of handheld devices such as context-aware applications and data-collection exist; yet these applications have not achieved scale, partly due to technical constraints, design difficulties and others. In addition, some research findings show that using available features of handheld devices to support educational practices such as data collection, or collaborative learning is feasible, plausible and innovative; yet, such applications remain to be under-developed. Finally, some constraints of the technology are inherent such as the screen size, inputting method, computational power. Technical problems still exist. Therefore, a research study that allows students to explore and use handheld devices for their own educational practices through a qualitative approach is outlined.
Ms Song Yanjie is a PhD candidate at Faculty of Education, the University of Hong Kong. This is a confirmation seminar for her PhD candidature.