Academic journal article NACTA Journal

A Course Focused on the Critical Issues in Agriculture: Students' Acceptance and Use of Mobile Learning

Academic journal article NACTA Journal

A Course Focused on the Critical Issues in Agriculture: Students' Acceptance and Use of Mobile Learning

Article excerpt

Abstract

Higher education has adopted innovative teaching strategies and devices to influence student learning to meet the demands of a technology-driven society. Mobile learning is the use of mobile technology to access educational content. Agricultural leadership educators have studied technology use, preferences and level of acceptance from instructor and student perspectives. Quantitative methods were used to measure the effects of personal characteristics on students' likely acceptance of mobile learning. Students (n=84) enrolled in a critical issues in agricultural leadership course at Texas A&M University completed questionnaire to assess their level of performance expectancy, effort expectancy, behavioral intention and self-efficacy toward mobile learning. A majority of students agreed mobile learning would be easy to use, be used in the near future, contribute positively to their performance and influence their learning in school. Findings in this study indicate students are ready and accepting of mobile learning as a viable tool for learning; however agricultural leadership educators should be aware that successful technological incorporation includes feasibility and the alignment with course learning outcomes. Further research should include replication with a larger sample size, investigation of the impact of mobile learning in the classroom and examination of the relationship between mobile learning use and leadership skills and competencies.

Introduction

Over the last several decades the number of technological advancements has grown exponentially. Individuals use technology to stay abreast with current events, communicate with others and as forms of entertainment. Businesses rely on technology to conduct meetings, gain competitive advantages and monitor their market shares. Students are no exception and are attached to their digital cameras, cell phones, PDAs, video, mp3 players and i-devices. They use the technology to gather information, play games, shop, socially network and leam (Hanson et al., 2011).

Higher education has quickly adopted innovative teaching strategies and technological devices to influence student learning (Laird and Kuh, 2005; Renes and Strange, 2011; Sherer and Shea, 2011). The millennial generation, also known as the "connected" generation, presents educators with new challenges of engagement and high impact learning. Educators have developed distance learning programs to meet students' increasing technological savvy. Whole degree programs are offered online due to the advent of eLearning. Colleges and universities are now relying on social media, the use of applications and creating practical simulations in Second Life (Allen et al., 2010; Leggette et al, 2012).

In agricultural and leadership education, several scholars have researched technological use, perceptions and efficacy from instructor and student perspectives. Alston et al. (2003) found instructors had a favorable perception in regards to the future use of technology in the agricultural classroom. Rhoades et al. (2008) surveyed undergraduate students concerning their use of technology in and out of the classroom and their preferences for increased use in podcasts, ePortfolios, RSS (Rich Site Summary) feeds, iPods or mp3 players and blogs and found instructors have made little progress in adopting these technologies. A recent study assessed students' varying acceptance of Second Life, Twitter and content management systems and found the technology should be presented to students in a manner which clearly conveys its educational benefits (Murphrey et al., 2012). A majority of students using tablet computers in agriculture and biology courses reported positive impacts on their learning environments (Shuler et al., 2010).

Using technology in the classroom also prepares students for the demands of their future careers. Boyd and Murphrey (2002) found computer-based simulations have the potential to increase student's learning of leadership concepts. …

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