Promoting Inclusive Learning? The Impact of Data Usage-Based Billing on Students’ Engagement in Mobile Learning Courses

TitlePromoting Inclusive Learning? The Impact of Data Usage-Based Billing on Students’ Engagement in Mobile Learning Courses
Publication TypeConference Paper
Year of Publication2018
AuthorsKabugo, D
Conference NameDElC 2018 International Conference
KeywordsData-Usage-Based Billing, Inclusive Learning, Language Education Course, mobile learning
Although the practice of delivering lectures via mobile devices is increasingly gaining traction among educators and students at higher education institutions in Uganda, a recent shift by mobile service providers towards mobile Data Usage-Based Billing (DUBB) has raised a number of critical questions for educators to ponder; a) How does DUBB affect students’ engagement with m-Learning objects? b) How does DUBB affect students’ inclusion/exclusion in m-Learning classes? This paper emerges from a semester-long (17 weeks) study, which sought answers to the above
questions. The analytic study used 70 Language Education teacher-trainees of the 2017/2018 cohort at Makerere University. Teacher-trainees were enrolled in a Language Education course (LLL3201), which was mediated by three m-Learning applications namely Edmodo, Whatsapp, and Facebook Zero. Using MySpeedTest Application, differences in trainees’ mobile data usage on the three m-Learning applications were measured. Results were disaggregated by two Internet connection types namely Institutional Wi-Fi and Cellular Connection, as well as by data connection plans namely zero-rating, prepaid vs. postpaid, as well as limited and unlimited weekly and monthly data plans for five ISPs. Interviews were conducted to explore trainees’ perceptions of participating in m-learning courses based on different DUBB plans. Trainees were more restrained from using own cellular data than the institutional Wi-Fi. Although some trainees reported that rated applications are costly and thus limiting their engagement with data-intensive m-learning objects, a big majority had reservations using zero-rated applications, citing the challenge of
limiting their participation and presences to only text-based interactions. The pedagogical implications of DUBB on trainees’ inclusion in the LLL3201 course are discussed.