Exploring Mobile Phone Usage And Potentials For Enhancing Higher Education Ghana, West Africa

Open Access
Muntaka, M Nadhir
Graduate Program:
Information Sciences and Technology
Master of Science
Document Type:
Master Thesis
Date of Defense:
May 02, 2014
Committee Members:
  • Lynette Marie Yarger, Thesis Advisor
  • Ladislaus M Semali, Thesis Advisor
  • Eileen M Trauth, Thesis Advisor
  • Mobile phone
  • Higher Education
  • Ghana
  • Transactive Memory Theory
  • Mobile learning
  • m-learning
  • Learning process
As a result of the high diffusion of mobile phones in Ghana, almost all students in high schools and colleges own and use them quite frequently in and outside classrooms. The Ghana Education Services in 2010 suggests that the use of mobile phones among high school students is destructive in their learning process; therefore, the use of mobile phones has been forbidden in all high school campuses [Imoro 2012]. It seems to be assumed that the prohibition of mobile phone usage in high school may help the students to focus on their studies instead of concentrating on their mobile phones. However, it could be presumed that this ban may limit students’ exposure to the modern technology, hence, limiting the learning experiences that could occur outside of the classroom setting. However, students are permitted to use mobile phones in the university environment. Today, nearly all students in most universities have mobile phones and use them primarily for communicating with families and friends and for everyday business purposes. Mobile phones can be viewed as potential resource tools for learning rather than seen as a classroom distraction. In order for mobile phones to become useful as platforms for learning in the educational environment, it is imperative for educators and curriculum developers to know how students use mobile phones in their current educational settings. Also, given the high level of mobile phone usage among university students in Ghana, it can be assumed that some of the students may use their mobile phones for learning purposes. Hence, it is important to examine this phenomenon and to ascertain how mobile phones are currently used and to examine how mobile phones can be used to enhance the learning process among students in Ghana. In examining the current and possible use of mobile phones in the educational setting in Ghana, consideration was also given to Transactive Memory Theory and how the constructs of this theory could be used to better understand and enhance the learning process of university students in Ghana. This qualitatively driven mixed methods study investigates five specific questions: (1) Do students in universities in Ghana use their mobile phones for the purpose of learning? (2) If they do, what factors influence their use of mobile phones for learning, and if they do not, then why? (3) What kinds of mobile educational tools do they use and why? (4) How do students use their mobile phones to further enhance their learning process. (5) How and why do mobile phones relate to and support transactive memory in the context of learning in Ghana? In order to answer these questions, students are asked to complete a survey with some open-ended questions on their use of mobile phones, and how the phones impact their learning processes. The survey was conducted via crowdsourcing, on campus labs, and through the traditional printed copies. These questions are addressed by using Transactive Memory Theory (TMT) and the concept of mobile learning as the bases for the interpretation and discussion of the student responses. While the survey analysis suggests that university students in Ghana use their mobile phones for learning purposes, this study also suggests ways in which mobile phones can be used as educational tools among higher education students in Ghana.