According to theme analysis of interviews, there were 9 basic themes, 2 organizing themes, and a global theme. Before description of themes, participants’ demographical information is presented. Participants in this study were male students of Persian Gulf electronics and electrical training center with their demographical information presented in the table below (
Table 1. Participants Demographic Information
Variable No. (%) Age 20 - 25 years old 13 (48.14) 26 - 30 years old 7 (25.92) 31 - 35 years old 5 (18.52) 36-to up years old 2 (7.41) Academic degree Associate degree 7 (25.92) Bachelor degree 14 (51.85) Master degree 6 (22.22) Employment situation Employed 8 (29.62) Unemployed 6 (22.22) Student 13 (48.14) 3.1. Learners’ Perceptions of the Mobile Learning Course
Based on analysis of interviews and open questionnaire, 9 basic themes were identified, 2 organizing themes and a global theme that was titled as “comparison to traditional teaching courses and positive perspective to this approach”, “cost saving”, “greater studying possibility and thus improvement in learning”, “anytime and anyplace content”, “readiness before introducing a new learning unit”, “improving teaching quality”, “interactive software”, “paying attention to procedures with the help of films” and “recommended to be offered for similar courses”.
3.1.1. Positive View Factors to the Mobile Learning Package
One of the organizing themes that were derived from the basic themes at the end of the learning process was positive view factors towards the mobile learning package. The basic themes of this organizing theme includes comparison to traditional teaching courses and positive perspective to this approach, cost saving, further study and further learning improvement, anytime and anyplace content, readiness before introducing a new learning unit, and improvement of teaching quality.
1-A. Comparison to traditional teaching courses and positive perspective towards this approach
One of the themes extracted from interviews at the end of the implementation of the mobile learning course was the comparison of mobile learning with face to face learning and the positive sense of this approach. For example, one of the trainees said: “this method was very good and appropriate, because one of our educational system weaknesses is the lack of study of supplementary content outside the textbooks, so learning material are converted only into a stereotypical preservation and can be erased from the students’ mind. Many of the lessons are matched with a pamphlet, but this approach can encourage students to study more and create a mentality that only books and lessons provided, do not stand up”. Another trainee said: “The mobile learning course was one of the best courses I have experienced so far, blending the presence at the workshop and studying with a smartphone and discussing topics that we read personally”.
One of employed trainees said: “We had identified some of the sessions and instead of going to the educational center, we were reading pages ourselves, and usually we discussed it on WhatsApp on the same night. So, not spoiling one day at an educational center, it would save you time and money; especially for that part of the course, which was theoretical, it could be read by ourselves”. Another trainee said: “It’s all a waste of paper and books, and traffic because of the traditional teaching method. So what? I think that all technical and vocational educating courses should be held in the workshop for practical work and with application software for theoretical learning. If we want to learn practical work, it is only possible through face to face sessions, and the rest of theoretical units could be taught with new technologies like the smartphone, which is a lot easier”.
1-C. Further study and further learning improvement
One of the trainees said: “Apps that are installed on Smartphones though Android and IOS are more useful than other software that work on a computer, because they are always available and more time could be spent on them. For this course, this was helpful because if the software was in the form of CD, the students would not spend their time on it, but as it was available on our phone, sometimes we had a glimpse of it “. Another trainee said: “I fully agree with this method, because in this way, you can review the content before the face to face class, with this difference, which is that the application is always accessible for students, and can be easily searched by key words in the title of the application pages, while this is not possible for pamphlets and books. Therefore, when we entered the classroom, we were fully prepared to discuss the topics that were taught, and we had to review these before the start of the class”. Another trainee said: "It was a very interesting and influential idea that led to BMS course not just ending up in a face to face class, and every time had extra time, we were studying using our mobile phone and so one of the benefits of the software was that there was no need to go to the classroom, and when we could not be present in face to face classrooms due to problems, we could learn the lesson with a mobile phone, because in fact you know what part you will be taught, so you cannot get back”.
1-D. Anytime and anyplace content
One of the trainees said: Generally, using software and learning with a smartphone is useful for better learning and better performance because mobile phone is a widely used and is an always available device that allows learners to use it whenever and wherever. Almost everyone has a smart phone. It is natural that mobile phones are more accessible rather than other resources, such as books and pamphlets, and are always with the learner. In fact, the content of the course was with us anywhere, and at any time we had some issue about the course, we could go back to the software”. One of learners said “smart phones and IOS programs are more useful than computer software, as they are more evaluable. In this course, this issue was effective, because if this software was in the form of a CD rum, I think the students would not use it”.
1-E. Readiness before introducing a new learning unit
An MA student said: “The benefit of the software was to prepare trainees for further learning and self-confidence in future classroom sessions, because the person, who is supposed to learn the next topic has at least a glimpse at its content in the application and has a positive feel for the class, which I thought was one of the benefits of this software in the course”. Another student said: I fully agree with this method, because in this way you can review the content before the face to face class, with the difference being that the application is always accessible for students, and can be easily searched by key words in the title of the application pages, while this is not possible in pamphlets and books. Therefore, when we entered the classroom we were fully prepared to discuss what topics were to be taught, and we had to review these before the start of the class. Another trainee said: “Learning through mobile phones in combination with face to face classroom works in a complementary manner, and it was a good idea because the student could use it before the classroom meetings with a pre-class study through the software and can use the class room to ask questions and solve problems, while this is not the case for face to face courses and students attend the class without the readiness”.
1-F. Improving Teaching Quality
One of trainees said: “Look at other courses. Both in technical and vocational courses as well as in university courses, the teacher and trainer transfers their knowledge and students write notes and, in the end of the course, the learner repeats the reservations on an exam paper. Of course, a part may also be practical learning. But in this course, our attention was to class debates”. This led to reflection and discussion about provided contents in the classroom. Another trainee said: “I think that in this method, the real time of the class increases and the teacher can be taught more easily, and as a result, the student’s ability to learn is increased because he is not supposed to note all the introduced theoretical material in the classroom, because he has already read the content before the start of class”. Another trainee said: “I learned a lot in this instructional course; the combination of classrooms and mobile application increased the amount of information and practical work. The mobile learning course reduced costs and waste of time spent to travel to the institute and led to effectiveness of the course
2. Focus on suggestions for improving the software and providing similar technical and vocational courses.
Although almost all trainees had a positive opinion about the instructional process at end of the course, the data analysis showed that some participants suggested the use of a more effective application such as an interactive software and use of videos, while others recommended the use of such software for similar technical and vocational courses.
2-A. Interactive software
According to participant’s statements, an interactive software is needed in the information and communication world. An interactive software leads to greater learner participation in the learning process. For example, one of trainees said: "I think the software should have chat functionality. [The user will say] Hey guys I did it here. Really, go there, sign in. I think the application must have chat functionality, group chat, and individual chat and upload of movie. [For example] Yesterday, I was surfing the internet, I found a PDF, let’s upload it, and have it available for other students as well ...” Another trainee said: "If the software made it possible to provide messaging and online chat, it would probably be better, because in this situation it would help resolve issues”.
2-B. Paying attention to procedures with the help of videos
Some participants acknowledged the need for some of the work procedures in the technical and professional field to be presented in a visual manner. For example, one of the trainees, with an associate degree, who was 23 years old and unemployed said: “In my opinion, while the software was attractive, it should have a professional and user-friendly design, and use video, audio, photo and other types of media alongside the text. Because sometimes work procedures are of great importance and should be taught with the help of videos”. “Another trainee said:” A professional software should have attractive and appealing graphics, so that the user is not tired when using it and, on the contrary be interested in continuing to use it. Thus, aesthetic issues in software and photography and videos should also be taken into consideration. If this software also made it possible to view the videos, it might have been better. “Another trainee said: “... For example, you can upload movies. Yesterday, I was on the Internet. I found a PDF file, I thought it would be good if I could upload it and share it with my classmates...”. One of trainees said: “In general, if the software is designed with a variety of professional features and user friendly and attractive form, it could attract everyone. Exactly like games that often have hidden educational goals, but because of their user-friendly environments and the simplicity of working with them attract a lot of people with any level of information and education. In this software, I was dealing mostly with text that was comprehensive, but it would be better if it was written in a text-movie based mode”.
2-C. Recommendation to offer similar technical and vocational courses
One of the trainees regarding his positive opinion about the mobile learning process said: “The classroom was great, and support by Whatsapp and Telegram groups along with the software was excellent. I think, this is the best way of learning, because combination of both the practical work in workshops and mobile application can be attractive”. Another trainee said: “I think this method should become a routine method, and over time, its strengths and weaknesses will be identified, also implementers of the technical and vocational education limited this approach for this course. I will make such software, it is not costly. Developing a software can be used at any time”. Another trainee pointed out that "the use of this teaching method for other courses could also be useful”.