During the „Learning in Context“ workshop conference 12 in Brussels Eric Slaats presented the project iFontys, that was conducted at several Fontys schools in the Netherlands. The goal of Slaats and his team was to create a „visible kick start in innovation with smart mobile learning“ as an example for the organisation. Fontys University of Applied Sciences is one of the largest institutions for higher education in the Netherlands. It consists of 31 schools and teaches 100 bachelor courses and 31 master variants with about 40.000 students and 4000 staff members.
In the project 10 students of each school were provided with an iPad 3G (location-independent internet access) and a certain amount of money for apps. The basic student assignment was to use the device (no nonsense!) as much as possible in their daily life but especially for support of their education activities. Further requirement was the participation to a weekly meeting in order to discuss the benefits and drawbacks of working with the mobile tablet and also to collect new ideas for enhancement of learning.
One of the main goals of this project was the active involvement of the students. Therefore the eagerness of experiments was appreciated. Main focus of the experiments were issues like:
- Knowledge sharing
- Social Media
- E-Readers, E-Content
- Content enhancement
- Interactive lessons
- Educational clouds
Additionally, the students were provided with proprietary apps, which should reinforce interactivity of instructors and students and exchange of knowledge between all participants.
Of course, not every school or university has the ability to provide all their students with tablets, but assuming that the number of tablets and highly sophisticated mobile phones will further increase, the iFontys experiment has shown on the one hand a high degree of acceptance of new technolgies among the students and on the other hand the potential of mobile devices for supporting the learning process.