Teaching with ‘post-PC’ tablets: An ongoing study of teacher adoption of iPads in higher education

Tianchong Wang and Daniel Churchill
The University of Hong Kong
Hong Kong SAR,China

‘Post-PC’ mobile devices such as iPads have been adopted increasingly in educational contexts in recent years. While these tablets have brought both convenience and challenges to educational institutions and instructional design, many teachers have moved on from seeing teaching with a mobile device as a kind of e-learning paradigm with handheld computers. In addition, studies have identified that teachers’ acceptance and perception of newer technologies like iPads have influenced their successful integration into the classroom environment. However, much of the current literature on ‘post-PC’ mobile devices has merely explored the positive role iPads or other tablets can play as tools for supporting learning through early, short-term mobile projects run by enthusiasts. Research into teachers’ educational applications of ‘post-PC’ mobile technology is still very limited. In response to this lack of prior research, this paper reports an ongoing qualitative study that involves ten academic staff from different disciplines at a university in Hong Kong. We attempt to investigate how higher education teachers use iPads to facilitate their teaching practices. Data are being collected through interviews with the teachers, direct observations, focus group meetings, and reflective posts on a mobile-optimized social networking app. With cross-case analysis, the emergent study results provide insight into both the educational affordances of ‘post-PC’ mobile technology and the ways in which teachers’ personal or private theories mediate these affordances and transform through the process. The study outcomes will contribute to a theoretical understanding of how teaching in higher education evolves through the adoption of such technology. Furthermore, the outcomes will provide a set of recommendations for applications of ‘post-PC’ mobile technology in higher education and ways to support teachers in adopting such technology effectively in their practices.