Scaffolding learning activities with mobile computers and collaborative scripts

The use of mobile devices, including mobile phones and tablets, is a growing trend in education. The practice has been widely technology driven and often justified simply by the importance of using new technology in a classroom and by claiming such devices to be important in reaching something referred to, although not that well defined, as 21st century skills. This thesis is one answer to the challenge represented by this development. It brings together theoretical ideas of scaffolding learning with collaborative scripts and the use of mobile devices as cognitive tools in a real life educational settings.

This thesis has constructivist grounds and aims at exploring how to support collaborative learning when students have ill-structured problems and their activities are supported with mobile technologies. The study consists of three case studies, which together form an example of how important it is to design, develop and deliver lightweight digital tools and activities for learners to construct knowledge.

Overall, the results of three case studies in this thesis confirms that it is a dubious assumption that learners will automatically take appropriate and measured advantage of the affordances of mobile devices and other emergent technologies involved in cognitive activities: rather, these cognitive tools require deliberate attention and effort from learners to make use of the affordances of the tools. Furthermore, results from the case studies reveal that personal factors such as students’ prior knowledge and their metacognitive and collaborative skills, as well as contextual cues such as cultural compatibility and instructional methods, influence student engagement.