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Debra Tyrrell


While mobile technology is ubiquitous in higher education, facilitating student engagement and learning through educational technology remains minimally understood. The problem this study addressed is the gap in research about how online graduate students utilized smartphone technology for learning and what factors led to their adoption of this technology. The purpose of this basic qualitative study was to explore how mobile learning is being performed through smartphones by education graduate students in the online environment. The unified theory of acceptance and use of technology (UTAUT) was used as the conceptual framework for this study. The research question asked how online graduate students in Master of Education degree programs describe their learning experience related to the four dimensions of the UTAUT when utilizing smartphone technology. Ten online graduate students from various U.S. universities were interviewed. Data were recorded, transcribed, and coded using UTAUT preidentified categories to create themes related to the UTAUT constructs. Study findings showed that online graduate students expected to perform educational tasks on their smartphones by accessing course content and communicating with faculty and peers. Students also expected the effort involved in the use of smartphones to be minimal. Study findings further demonstrated online graduate students were mostly self-sufficient when exploring ideas for smartphone integration and when issues arose. Results of this study may provide positive social change by helping stakeholders teach students how to benefit from use of their mobile technology for learning.