The implications of Mobile Devices in the LIBRARY (Substantial Post – Michelle Nye)

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Many schools have already trialed the use of iPads as has mine in Years 11 and 12 this year.  Anthony Caruana from Mac World Australia said; “Schools which have had great success with the iPad have found that students given responsibility for the iPads and permission to personalise them have looked after them and used them in ways the teachers never imagined.  Students have even bought their own apps for completing tasks, enjoying the freedom from being spoon-fed by teachers.” (2011, para10)

Incorporation of iPads

I believe that access to mobile devices at school empowers our students to continue in their quest for life-long learning. The Horizon Report describes the Bring Your Own Device model as “redefining what we mean as mobile computing” (2012, p.5) Cook describes the world as undergoing a transformation “towards individualisation, mobility and convergence” (2011, p. 181). Research from Mac World Australia has demonstrated two main ways that iPads have been introduced. One way is to use them as a class set, where you buy some iPads and use them as a shared resource that moves from class to class. This works well in primary-aged classes as they typically used the iPad as a consumption device. In secondary classes, students had an expectation that the iPad would be a personal device. As an ELC to Year 12 school I made the decision to introduce twelve iPads for small group use in the Discovery Centre because I wanted to be able to provide access to this new emerging technology across the wider college community. In the process I discovered that the incorporation of new pedagogies necessitated the updating of policies and procedures within the school community. Even though this meant rewriting school policy it ensured that we were included as a valid stake holder at an executive level where our thoughts could be heard and these opinions included when change was decided upon.

Evidenced through this trial over and over was the observation that students preferred to play games, watch clips and use the multimedia apps than read eBooks or play teacher led “educational” games on these shared devices in their own time. This was also supported in data shared by Zickhur, Raine, Purcell, Madden and Brenner (2012, June 22) where eBooks are changing the borrowing habits of library users. Even though “technology has opened up the ways we think about a text as a communicative act” (O’Sullivan, 2012, p. 207) the digital device has not been used to read fiction from at my school. Mobile devices can enable students to investigate and explore what they are learning about, thinking about and really make some new connections. As an educator I have been challenged to take games on more seriously and as Bradford states; “games are like fiction, they too position their audiences and imply knowledge and skills” (2010, p.56).  This discovery heightened my opinion that tablets, iPads, eReaders and the like are personal learning devices (PLD) that need to be owned rather than loaned.

After considering the implications of both owned and loaned iPads I can see the benefits of having a PLD set up to suit the individual, their needs and better meet their individual learning styles. Integrating this new learning technology into our curriculum is vital and Luhtala (2011, August 2) explains how building connections through a personal learning network (PLN )is important, it enables shared and deeper learning. Cook (2011) describes the new digital landscape of mobile technology as ubiquitous. The reality is that mobile devices are now an ever-present, pervasive tool that is in the hands, or bags, of the majority of our students. However, the implication of cost to ensure that all students have access is problematic at this point in time at my school.

Future Practice

The issues of access to technology, game based learning, equity, connection and curriculum innovation are things that I believe impact teaching and learning continuously. In the future apps could be added to the school book lists instead of text books and students could be given iTunes Store vouchers in order to set the device up to suit themselves. The environmental benefit of mobile devices should also be considered – no more wasting paper writing notes and reminders in the classroom! This technology actually puts the power of choice into the hands of our students, where they can select which device, which app, which program, what time, which game they would prefer to use based on their needs, multiple intelligences and desires.

Regardless of; how, if, when or why mobile devices are deployed in schools, the management of these devices may become an interesting issue. These questions were considered during our trial; do we allow students putting apps onto loaned iPads? Do we link the iTunes account to a limited value or iTunes voucher? How do we monitor what the students can access? Do we deactivate the camera function? Should we block You Tube? Can the Wi-Fi handle this?  In this revolutionary educational era we should be embracing the motivation that gaming has on our young people today. The benefits of games include lower risk of public failure, free exploration, collaboration and independent knowledge construction. In all of this the central idea is that this is a textural environment, another avenue where curriculum can be supported and yet educational outcomes are not just met but are driving the creative ways problems can be solved in our schools.

In Quest to Learn (Q2L): developing the school for digital kids; Salen, Torres, Wolozin, Rufo-Tepper and Shapiro describe five conditions for student learning – “a need to know, a need to share and reflect, an occasion to share, a context for ongoing feedback and evaluation and channels for distribution” (2011, p. 16) and further illustrate that:

  • Games are carefully designed, learner-driven systems
  • Games produce meaning
  • Games are dynamic systems
  • Games are immersive
  • Games are interactive and dynamic, requiring a player’s participation
  • Games instantiate worlds in which players grow, receive constant feedback, and develop ways of thinking and seeing the world (Salen, 2011, p. 11)

Personally, iPads and other mobile devices are proof that the thinking and learning paradigm is shifting to that of an authentic, multimodal structure where the opportunity to develop new perspectives that embrace technology are here. As ICT directors, teachers, and administrators we have to follow suit and integrate inventive game design into the curriculum in order to better support our learners today. Mobile devices need to be embraced and accepted in order to help develop innovative curriculum that will impact the learners of the future.


Bradford, C. (2010). Looking for my corpse; video games and player positioning. Australian Journal of Language and Literacy 33(1), 54-64.

Caruana, Anthony. (2011, March 6). iPad goes to school (Web log post). Retrieved from

Cook, J., Pachler, N. & Bachmair, B. (2011). Ubiquitous mobility with mobile phones: A cultural ecology for mobile learning. E-Learning and Digital Media 8(3), 181-195.

Luhtala, M. (2011,August 2). Five key roles for 21st century librarians. IeSchoolNews. Retrieved from

O’Sullivan, K. A. (2012). Books and blogs: Promoting reading achievement in digital contexts. In J. Corio, M. Knobel, C. Lankshear & D. J. Leu (Eds.) Handbook of research on new literacies. (pp. 775-804). New York & London: Lawrence Erlbaum

Salen,K. (2011). Quest to Learn: Developing the School for Digital kids Macarthur Foundation Report on Digital Media and Learning: The MIT Press

The NMC Horizon Report: 2012 K-12 Retrieved from

Zickhur, K., Raine, L.,  Purcell, K., Madden, M. and Brenner, J.  (2012, June 22). Libraries, patrons and e-books-summary of findings. PEW Internet. Retrieved from


  • #   shellnye on 10.23.12 at 5:58 am     Reply

    I regularly receive RSS feeds about this topic. My diigo list has its own ipads section. Today I bookmarked this new addition:

  • #   Louise on 10.24.12 at 3:04 am     Reply

    Hi Michelle

    It was so good to read your post about ipads from a secondary perspective. Working in a primary school our focus with mobile technology – ipods and iPads – has been for the use of apps that assist in the creation of knowledge. So the camera is a high priority as it is usually essential to capture learning and enable the child to use the photo to explain a concept etc. We have moved away from games as much as possible but do have ones on the devices that we believe offer good consolidation practice. Still the children drift towards them when given the chance.
    Now having studied gaming within the context of popular culture and texts the value of gaming has taken on a different context. Like you I am reconsidering and investigating how games can be deployed in the room especially in terms of narratives and problem solving tasks. Even the fact that repetitive practice and failure are key benefits of gaming and are developmental attributes that have value for the learner is a whole new journey and conceptualisation for me.
    As for how to keep the lid on the places where seniors can wander in a virtual world – you’re on your own there :-) Censorship is a whole new area to explore.

  • #   shellnye on 10.25.12 at 9:22 am     Reply

    Thanks Louise,
    I just read this article: have been thinking about the uptake of digital texts. The next 18 months will be an interesting time in relation to media and publishing.
    Thanks for reading and responding to my post.

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