Smartphones in Higher Education. A longitudinal qualitative study




Smartphone, mobile learning, qualitative research, focus group, Higher Education, lecturers


The impact of technological tools in the educational field is unquestionable. The smartphone has established itself as the device with greater versatility and applicability in the academic/personal context of the subjects. For this reason, the following study addresses, from a longitudinal qualitative approach, the knowledge, use, benefits, and difficulties of the pedagogical application of smartphones, as well as the training needs perceived by higher education teachers, understanding the evolution of this trend in the last seven years. The participating sample is made up of 32 lecturers belonging to five Spanish universities, through the realization of six focus groups during the 2014-2015 and 2021-2022 academic years. The main results show that the lecturers value favorably the possibilities of the tool for communication and information search. However, in recent times more skeptical and critical evaluations are perceived, considering that the smartphone has not brought about the expected qualitative leap in the teaching methodologies applied in the classroom. Promoting the critical, responsible, and context-specific use of the mobile device, while effectively applying its technological possibilities in the creation of constructive pedagogical experiences in a temporally and spatially specified manner, may be one of the keys to a harmonious and not overloaded coexistence between academic and life experiences mediated with and without technology.