A long-term field study on the adoption of smartphones by children in Panama
Valderrama Bahamóndez, Elba Del Carmen
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Computing technology is currently adopted in emerging countries. Especially mobile phones and smart phones become widely used - with a much higher penetration than traditional computers. In our work we investigate how computing technologies and particularly mobile devices can support education. While previous work focused on controlled experiments, in this paper we present the results of a 20 weeks long study of mobile phone usage in an emerging region. Our aim was not only to investigate how the phones are used for education but also to learn how they are adopted by children in daily life. By logging screenshots, we used an unsupervised approach that allowed to unobtrusively observe usage patterns without the presence of researchers. Instead of offering tailored teaching applications, we used general-purpose applications to support teaching and found that the phone itself was an empowering technology similar to pen and paper. Based on a detailed analysis of actual use in a natural setting, we derived a set of typical use cases for mobile phones in education and describe how they change learning. From in-depth interviews with a teacher, selected guardians and pupils we show that introducing mobiles phones has great potential for supporting education in emerging regions.