Seeing developing-world realities through first-world eyes

Mr Stephen Baldridge  |  Presentation (PDF)

Abilene Christian University


When examining the theme of teachers and mobile learning, it is essential to aim to use this technology not only to teach students, but to open the door to new and meaningful learning experiences. Conall McDevitt suggested that people must be aware before they care. For students of higher education, the very fact that one is enrolled demonstrates a level of privilege to access and intellectual influence. Furthermore, students from developed countries frequently bring highly specific perceptions of social justice, poverty, race, culture and hardship that present inaccurate or uninformed perceptions. This is important because these future leaders of industry, culture, education, and politics have the power to influence greatly the developing world. A question arises: how to use mobility to educate students to combat these perceptions?

This presentation demonstrates a best practice for using mobile learning to have students combat their own levels of privilege by exposing them to realities outside of their own. Recent research in 2013 regarding higher education indicates student learning and participation is increased with mobile learning strategies that incorporate community involvement. This provides the ability to expose students to issues of social justice and privilege to which they do not (or cannot) typically have access.

According to Cojocariu, 2010, theoretical support for mobile and active learning is derived from constructivism ‘which underlines the active role of the learner in building one’s own knowledge’. Having students experience situations and environments that they may not ever be exposed to otherwise aims to achieve this end.

This presentation will detail research and practice done in the classroom to help expose traditionally ‘privileged’ students to situations to which they are not accustomed. Examples of classroom activities and products of student work will be given to the audience that show how students are exposed to situations of poverty such has having students take part in a poverty simulation, including forcing them to utilize public transportation. Examples of exposing students to alienation and racism through the use of mobility will also be displayed.

Finally, the use of mobile learning strategies to connect students in developed countries with learners in countries such as Ethiopia will be given. Doing so allows students to become familiar with their own levels of privilege and how that impacts things such as their world-view, stereotypes and their own prejudices. Both quantitative and qualitative data will be given to help audience members understand potential outcomes of given activities. 

This presentation will be relevant to participants in that it will help them formulate ways in which they can expose their own students to methods of learning that will challenge previous assumptions and stereotypes. Additionally, this presentation will be useful from a policy-maker perspective in that it will stress the importance of formulating policies that allow for student interaction outside of a traditional face-to-face (or even online) classroom.


Mr Stephen Baldridge has researched, taught and implemented the use of mobile learning consistently over the past few years in his courses. Stephen has worked a great deal with Abilene Christian University since the establishment of their Mobile Learning Initiative, the first of its kind to distribute mobile devices to all students. He has established some of the current best practices for social media and mobile learning in the classroom. His research, presentations and publications include areas surrounding mobile learning, remote teaching, and using social media to create learning communities. His recent research projects have examined pairing mobile devices with social media to combat student stereotypes and prejudices.

Mr Baldridge is currently on faculty in the School of Social Work at Abilene Christian University in Texas. He also consults around the United States with schools aiming to incorporate technology and mobile learning into the classroom.


Twitter: @s_d_socialwork

Back to top