Using a Mobile Application to Increase Interaction amongst Students in an Open and Distance Learning Programme in Zimbabwe: A Cultural Historical Activity Learning Theory Perspective
Tunjera, N.; Mukabeta, T.; Ramirez, T.; Zinyeka, G.

The challenge of shortages of trained science teachers in Zimbabwe is amplified by the significant numbers of untrained science teachers currently deployed in schools as relief teachers. These relief teachers need access to professional training opportunities urgently without disrupting their teaching activities, hence the birth of Bindura University’s Open Distance Learning programme. The authors designed a mobile application, which they intended to link with activity theory to mediate distance student teachers’ learning. The subject of the activity system was the distant students who engaged with the mobile application and the primary object is higher cognitive thinking and their ability to use the mobile application to increase collaboration, interaction and engagement. In order to achieve the primary object of higher cognitive thinking and the ability to use the mobile application, the distance student teachers were supported by use of the elements of the authentic learning environments designed within the mobile application. A group of ten students and two lecturers piloted the mobile application to check its usability, effectiveness and affordances. The study showed that learners were motivated, gained additional technological skills, and these helped them to develop self-esteem and confidence. Mobile learning afforded self-expression and self-reflection as the distance students’ documented experience, published thoughts on the mobile application.

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