Edited by Bella, Catherine, Evelyn, Fay

Do you own a mobile phone? Of course you do! What do you normally do with it? Checking your idol’s social media page, or stalking your ex to see whether he/she is doing better than you? LOL, just kidding. What we really want to ask is if you have ever tried to learn with your phone or heard of the term “mobile learning”? If you haven’t please allow us to show you the new world of learning through your smartphones.

(Image credit: Matt Madd

What is mobile learning?

Nowadays, we are in an age where a variety of mobile devices, including tablet PCs, mobile phones and MP3 players, are pervasive. This age provides us with opportunities to design learning differently, including making connections between the real and virtual world, and creating learning communities for people on the move. As a result, mobile learning has developed all over the world over the past ten years.

Early definitions of mobile learning focused on the use of mobile technology. However, this definition doesn’t help learners to understand the nature of learning. In order to have a deeper understanding, let’s take a tourist’s learning as an example. A tourist can plan his trip around the city with what he has learned from a phone conversation with a friend who has visited the city before, a Google map of the city on his mobile phone and many other ways. So mobile learning is actually a combined experience. 

“Mobile” refers to different kinds of mobility of learners. For example, “mobility in social space” means that learners shift between various social groups like school or office context. While “mobility of technology” means that portable tools and resources are available to be carried around. In general, the definition of mobile learning is that mobility of learners can contribute to learning by the support of personal and public technology.(Sharples, M., Arnedillo Sanchez, I., Milrad, M., & Vavoula, G., 2009)

click here for an example of mobile learning in school.

How to design the mobile learning?

A successful mobile learning experience is one that combines technology and the curriculum closely. It gives learners the accessibility and connectivity to the technology being used and provides instructions when needed. When designing mobile learning experiences, one needs to consider the technological aspect, including the technologies, media and interactions, as well as the instructional aspect to guide the learning.

1. Design of mobile learning technologies

Two major issues should be considered when designing mobile learning activities.

  • How could the design promote a seamless flow across different learning contexts?
  • How should mobile technologies be integrated with education to enable innovative practices?

Previous research (Naismith & Corlett, 2006) has given several suggestions. The design should:

  • reate quick and simple interactions;
  • create quick and simple interactions;
  • prepare flexible materials so that it can be accessed across contexts;
  • consider the special affordances of mobile learning to enrich learner experience;
  • use mobile technology not only to ‘deliver’ learning, but also to facilitate it;
  • pay attention that the use of technology is not obligatory for the whole learning experience, it’s used to facilitate learning when other ways cannot be conducted.

2. Design of instructions on mobile learning

Challenges faced by mobile learning suggests that it should enrich learning conversations and learning experience without interfering. Also, using mobile technologies in learning expose students’ attention to its other usages such as social networks, in that case, the learning should be guided carefully to facilitate learning. Considering the theoretical foundation of mobile learning (Reigelith, 1999) the instructions of mobile learning should:

  • Support learners to gain personal understanding through conservation and exploration.
  • Support learners’ collaboration to construct common knowledge.
  • Support learners’ transitions across learning context.

 

Challenges for Mobile Learning Evaluation
1. Why does evaluation matter?

As a central activity in the life cycle of interactive systems design, evaluation offers a systematic approach to assess the effectiveness of the system and the learning it enables.

2. What are the difficulties of evaluating Mobile Learning?

Unpredictability of the context of use: Different kinds of contexts are impromptu and difficult to observe. The subjects arouse learners’ interest with little or no concern for consistency (Taylor, 2007)

Unpredictability of the learning process: Learners learn outside the classroom through images, notes and audio recordings. Traditional assessment which is closely related to the curriculum fails to accredit the staged learning outcome.

Unpredictability of the mode of use: New tools and services of Mobile Learning may change and affect practice, for the way learners adopt them may not always coincide with the designer’s intent (Waycott, 2004)

Looking beyond the “wow” effect: Certain kinds of Mobile devices are cool, but they have to be effective in engaging learners over the long term (Jones, Issroff & Scanlon, 2007)

 

3. What kind of Mobile Learning Evaluation should we apply?

Three-level framework for Mobile Learning Evaluation
(Sharples, M., Arnedillo Sanchez, I., Milrad, M., & Vavoula, G., 2009)

  • Micro level: Examining the the individual activities to identify the effectiveness of users’ experience.
  • Meso level: Examining the learning experience as a whole to assess the educational value.
  • Macro level: Examining the overall, long-term impact of Mobile Learning

 

Conclusion

Until now, most research into technology-enhanced learning(TEL) has assumed that learning occurs in the classroom, mediated by a trained teacher. One major opportunity of TEL is to support a person through a lifetime of learning, providing young children with tools to capture and organize their everyday experiences, to create and share images of their world and to probe and explore their surroundings. Mobile Learning helps to shape a more expansive and inclusive landscape of learning.

 

Discussion

  1. Have you ever tried to use mobile phones to learn the language? If you have, please share with us.
  2.  Do you think it is possible to promote mobile learning in China?

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39 thoughts on “Mobile Learning- Small Devices, Big Issues

  1. Thanks for sharing!
    I have used a mobile phone APP to learn some vocabulary when I was preparing for the post-graduation test and IELTS. Comparing with vocabulary books or other materials, I prefer mobile phones because it is portable and allow me to be familiar with the vocabulary at anytime and anywhere, while it can be insane to carry a Cambridge Dictionary with you cause it’s too heavy for our level. Other than this, I think that mobile APP is less time- consuming when we are looking up for a specific word, comparing to look up in a print-dictionary,
    As to the second question, I hold negative view. I think in mainland China, in developed cities maybe better, most cities cannot afford the challenges of learning through mobile phones.
    Besides, most students’ learning in under-developed cities are exam-oriented. Up till now, I think is difficult to combine mobile learning with exams and tests that those students need to pass and get high marks.
    But I hold positive view about it’s future when the education purpose and goal has been adapted to students’ true needs of learning a language.

    • Thank you for your comment. I have the same experience when preparing for exams such as IELTS. It is convenient and simple to use the smartphone in our daily life, and various apps could help to improve different language skills. With wifi and your mobile device, everything seems possible. Our personal experience surely proves that mobile learning is quite practical and effective, but I agree with you that there are some difficulities in promoting mobile learning in wider range. In mainland China, not all children have smartphones and the situation in less-developed cities is not as well as the place we are in now. But it will be possible with the development of economy. The second factor that you mention is the exams in schools. Actually, I think that mobile learning can be related to any kinds of exams, for there are so many different kinds of online resources and teachers can guide them to use some well-designed app in class and help students to learn on their mobile device. It really depends on the certain website or app that teachers choose. Overall, I also hold a positive view about ML.

  2. Thank you for your sharing👏! I believe it is a fantastic idea to learn something new, either foreign languages or other disciplines on mobile phones👍. Actually, there are various kinds of apps about learning online. If you would like to practice English listening skill, you can try “BBC Radio”. If you want to attend lectures offered by prestigious universities around the world, you can download “Coursera”. If you are interested in learning languages from news reports, you can check “CNN”. Generally speaking, people can learn wherever they are and whenever they want as long as they carry a portable device and have access to the Internet. In other words, mobile learning is unavoidable in such a technology-mediated society.

    Therefore, it is necessary to integrate mobile learning into our current teaching activities. On the one hand, it is not quite possible to stop students from using their technological devices. To a large extent, those devices have already become an integral part of their daily lives. So why not guide them to make use of the technology in a positive way? On the other hand, those tools do provide students with an opportunity to learn on a new platform, with new peers, and in a new way.

    As for incorporating that in Chinese class, the crucial issue is how students utilize their devices. Do they just watch the video of the instructions on their iPhones? Do they make a short video to introduce a topic after collecting information online? Do they discuss with peers about assignments on WeChat? The way they capitalize on the technology decides whether the technological tools are needed in class. Apart from that, other questions like how long and how often students use mobile devices in class, how teachers instruct them to use and learn in such activities, and how knowledge or skills are assessed are all worth considering before mobile learning is formally and massively absorbed into the teaching pedagogies.

    At the present stage, I suppose only schools in relatively developed cities such as Beijing, Shanghai, and Shenzhen are able to try this new approach due to the better economic conditions of those regions, the more advanced concept of education of both teachers and parents, and their more open-minded attitude toward teaching.

    • Firstl, thanks for these apps that you recommend^^ I agree that mobile learning is inevitable for both teachers and students, and every teacher can just try to gradually integrate mobile leaning into their own teaching process if possible, and as suggested in our post, teachers are supposed to use mobile technology not only to ‘deliver’ learning, but also to facilitate it. It’s about learning habit forming. The class management is a major factor that influences the effect of mobile learning. I also agree that the frequency of ML and the activities in class should be considered. I need to argue that probably the promotion of mobile learning is not blocked by technological factors. Instead, it is blocked by the limited experience and understanding of technology-enhanced learning(TEL) in the real class, which can only be changed step by step.

  3. Thanks for your interesting sharing!

    I have used my phone for online vocabulary learning when I prepared for some tests, which is realized by some Apps. The learning process is kind of task-based because I need to learn about 100 words per day, and after that I could keep a record on the Apps and post the record on Wechat. Personally, I think mobile devices enable me to learn at any time, especially when I am on my way to somewhere. Also, I can a online dictionary if I want to learn more about a particular word. It is amazing that I have access to a great amount of information without carrying printed dictionaries with me.

    To some extent, I believe that mobile learning can be promoted in China. In fact, a lot of undergraduate students use mobile devices to learn vocabulary, develop their speaking skills and do extensive reading. Even kids who are only 5 use iPad to learn English by listening to music or watching videos.

    However, it should be concerned that some problems may raise from the mobile learning. For one thing, students may be addicted to mobile phones if they lack self-control. For another thing, it is hard to assess the quality of input because of the variety created by the virtual world. In other word, students may not be able to acquire proper use of language. Therefore, there are still some problems need to be solved before teachers introduce mobile learning to students.

    • Hi Hayley, thanks for your comment. I think I share the sam experience with you, that is to learn English by an app and post my learning experience on WeChat everyday after learning. I would say was a very good learning experience cause I felt that I was supervised by my friends, in that case, I felt motivated to learn. Besides, I agree with you that teachers should be careful when introducing mobile learning to classrooms. As for the input assessment, usually, the design of the mobile learning activity will consider the factor, so I think you don’t need to worry about it.

  4. Thanks for sharing! Yes, I have tried learning English through the use of mobile phone. There is an app called “Speak English Fluently” in which there is a part named “Fluent Reading”. Everyday I had read a new article in “Fluent Reading” and listened to the explanation of the English article. With practising listening and reading skills, I could also learn many new words and expressions in it which did exactly help my writing. And therefore, after listening to the original record of the article, I could even mimick the pronunciation and exercised my speaking as well. The convenience of learning on cell phone can let me learn the language everywhere and at any free time.

    I think it is possible to extend the use of mobile learning in China espeacially for students to practise their speaking as the short time of classes at school. But it is better to be used more in the after-class time. For example, teacher can design some homework that need students to do some exercises such as reading article aloud on the cell phone after school and ask parents for help to monitor them. Teacher can keep pace with their progress in time even outside classroom and give some specific suggestions after listening to their homework production immediately.

    • Mandy, thanks for you reply! I know ‘Speaking English Fluently’, and I think it was designed very well to facilitate language learning, and I love the fact that it considered learners at different level, but I don’t know if it provides feedback for leaners. As far as I know, some language learning apps will provide personal teachers for students, for example, you may form a WeChat group, and the teacher give feedback or answer some questions in the group everyday, and I think it is very efficient.
      I agree with you that students can practice speaking by mobile learning. Actually, I think the four basic skills all can be practiced by mobile learning as it is more flexible than traditional learning in the classroom.

    • Hi, Mandy! I have the same experience of using ‘Fluent Reading”.

      I think this kind of app can help us to form a good habit of English learning, I insist to read on that app for about 100 days and I found that it increase my interest of reading and because the material that I read is about the news, so I am learning language and at the same time I also gain a lot of new information which enriches my knowledge.

      However, according to the teachers in that app, I found that not everyone can insist to read everyday for various reasons, like busy work or lack of self-indiscipline. So, I think if a language would like to use this kind of app in language class, it would be better for teachers to design some tasks for their students, especially for those low-level language learners for they may need some guidance when reading. For example, in order to help students to form a reading habit, teachers could ask them to read online or through some useful apps and ask them to do a brief summary of the reading material and spend some time in class to let students share what they have read. Or, teachers could divide them into groups, and different groups can read different materials (chosen by themselves) online, and let them share the material orally or in written.

    • Yes, Bella. When I learn on the “Fluent Reading” programme, there is a WeChat group formed for each period of students. In the group, the teacher sends key vocabularies, good expressions and even some difficult language points of the reading every day in the group for students to review after they learn the reading. Also, students can discuss with one another freely about the reading and ask the teacher questions in the WeChat group. I think this kind of learning is really effective.

    • Hello, Jean. I agree that not every student has great self-discipline and can push themselvelass to insist on learning on the app. If teacher wants to introduce this app to students for daily learnng, some required tasks should be designed and teacher should have a check everyday especially for those younger learners. And some discussion can be held in the class next day which can help students form a better habit of keeping reading and accumulating language knowledge everyday.

  5. Thanks for you sharing! I personally think mobile learning is quite useful and popular nowadays with the rise on both hardwares and softwares.

    As for myself, I’ve used mobile learning for many years since I’m a huge fan of mobile devices. Since these devices are portable and convenient, it adds a lot of fun to learning. The one I like the most is my kindle. I’ve read some origin books on it. And I can take it anywhere I go and it’s really reader friendly. Secondly, I use the app called “Shanbei Vocab(扇贝单词)” to ensure I memorize words everyday because I enjoy the process of “clock-in” everyday. And “TED” is also the app I frequently use to watch some speeches given by people with various backgrouds, and I’ve recommended it to a lot of students, because I learn not only language from it, but also academic knowledge and living attitudes.

    And my students use some different learning devices. Some of them use e-dictionaries to check words. Unlike the app on the phone, there are different versions of dictionaries in the devices, and the e-pen can scan the material and do translation directly. There are some popular apps among students, like “TOEFL 120(托福考满分)”, “IELTS BRO(雅思哥)”, which help with their tests. Besides, some students play English version games to have pleasure on the one hand, and learn language on the other.
    I do think m-learning facilitate students’ motivation to language learning, but I also have my concerns. Since some students may use their phones for other purposes or for a very long time with the excuse of learning language, it is really hard for teachers and parents to supervise.

    • Thanks for your reply Iris. I also have used ‘IELTS Bro’ when I was preparing for my IELTS test, and the app somehow helped. As for your concerns, I think teachers could communicate with parents when assigning homework or class activities related with mobile devices, in that case, parents can roughly know how much time should be spent on the mobile devices and thus monitor some kids with low will power. As for in class use, teachers can ask students to report their learning results at the end of the class. Students may then use the device to learn instead of focusing on other aspects because they are assigned with tasks.

  6. Thanks for your sharing=)

    The mobile devices such as mobile phones, MP3 players and personal digital assistant feature portability and convenience. That’s why I have been using some of them as tools to learn languages. The mobile phone is the most frequently used tool. Apart from phone-version dictionaries (in both monolingual or bilingual), I used to download some English learning apps like Voxy, which have some common features: (1) the use of vocabulary in different contexts and (2) more individualized and unilateral in nature. I think context plays an indispensable role in language learning. Such ways allow learners to enrich knowledge of the word and thus use the word more accurately in the future.

    I also play games on my mobile phone such as Words with Friends, which is a multiplayer word game. Players can choose another play, whom you know or don’t, to take turns building words crossword puzzle. This type of games is more interactive and bilateral in nature. A player can enlarge his/her word bank by learning from other players.

    As for the second question, m-learning has become more and more popular over the world, of course, including China. The first m-learning project in China was initiated by the Educational Lab of Modern in the early 2000s. Despite its failure due to multiple factors, another project called The Application of Handheld Networked Learning Systems in Subject Teaching was implemented in the early 2010s. Some mobile resources like Mobile Mind English were introduced. Yet, in this project, m-learning served as a complementary resource to learners only, mainly being used in out-of-classroom contexts. These are just two out of many projects aiming at promoting m-learning in China, some organized by the government while some by universities.

    So I think it is possible to promote m-learning in the country under some conditions such as sufficiency of financial and technical support, teachers’ professional training, and students and teachers’ attitudes towards m-learning.

    Besides, since I am more familiar with the context of HK, please allow me to explore the possibility of mobile learning in this setting. STEM education has been highly promoted in HK in recent years. Basically, it stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. The use of technological tools, including mobile devices, are important tools in STEM education, cultivating an IT environment in different levels of schools, enhancing learning and teaching effectiveness. The government has also been encouraging local primary and secondary schools to integrate STEM education into language education by using mobile devices (Press Releases, 2018). A certain number of local schools, for instance, have carried out STEAM education (A stands for Arts). Language education is included in such a modified plan.

    • Thank you for your sharing! Your experience of learning English through online apps and games is typical. Mobile phones are more and more advanced these days, and it can surely enable us to have access to any kind of learning situation, such as looking up new words and its usage in certain context, and playing games that can indirectly improve language competence. You mentioned two researches aiming at promoting ML in mainland China, which proves that little attention is paid on ML in mainland China. It probably results from the fear of encouraging students to use mobile phones, which is regarded as a misleading way. Of course this kind of view is biased. Compared with mainland China, you also mentioned that HK welcomes ML. We ourselves benefit from it as language learners. To keep an open mind about the development of modern language teaching is cruical.

    • Thanks for your comment, Evelyn. Many years ago, I used the some apps that I mentioned above to learn English. Of course nowadays I use something else. Besides, refer to the first question stated in the post, it is about the possibility of promoting m-learning in China. When I did a little research on the topic of m-learning in China, I noticed that the promotion of m-learning has started in some areas (maybe relatively developed cities) and in tertiary education. It really takes time to promote m-learning to some other cities and other levels of education. More importantly, as I mentioned above, many conditions should be taken into account by different stakeholders in order to make it possible in China.

  7. Thanks for your sharing!
    I have the experience of using my mobile phone to learn English. The app I use is Bai Ci Zan (百词斩). It is an app that helps English learners learn and memorize words. It has different sets of vocabulary such as college entrance examination vocabulary, CET 6 vocabulary, TEM 8 vocabulary, etc. to satisfy the need for learners at different levels. When I was preparing for the IELTS test, I selected the IELTS vocabulary as my learning target and the app automatically formulated a learning plan for me based on how many days I had for the preparation. The learning plan determined the amount of words to learn and review every day.
    As for the second question, I don’t hold a positive attitude to promote mobile learning in China, especially some underdeveloped areas. In those areas, students may not have their own mobile phones or they can not afford the high price of a mobile phone with large storage to facilitate their language learning. Promoting mobile learning may result in marginalizing students from those poor areas.

    • Hi Charlene, thank you for commenting. I have also used Bai Ci Zhan for learning vocabulary. However, I don’t think it works for me very well. All I remembered was those pictures. But I think for people who can make the realization of picture and information well. It is quite a good app for them.
      For the second question I agree with you. I think introducing mobile learning into Chinese at least mainland Chinese will meet many problems. The problem you mentioned that not all students own mobile phones is one thing, the pushing back from parents will be another huge problem in my mind. Parents want their children to learn as much as they can in classrooms, and “playing mobile phones” is not what they have in mind. It takes too much work and energy for teachers to explain why we should use this type of learning. Hence, for my perspective it is not very possible to realize this kind of teaching now.

  8. I seldom use my mobile devices to learn a language. After reading your post, it inspires me to have a try. So, I have just downloaded an app about learning Korean. A language that I haven’t learnt in formal context. In fact, I just know how to speak some common phrases when I watch Korean drama and TV programmes.

    It is very interesting and convenient to learn a new language with mobile devices. You can access the materials anytime and anywhere. Also, I can click the buttons and listen to the words repeatly and even record my own voice. By comparing the recordings and the sound file from the app, I can do some reflections on my learning progress.

    However, there are too many apps to learn Korean. They have different focuses. Most of them focus on learning vocabulary and daily expressions. Some of them teach me about the Korean writing system. It is too complicated for a beginner to sort out the rules and patterns of Korean. Also, feedbacks are not given after I do the recordings. I am not sure I am doing well or not. To me, the apps seems more suitable for revision rather than learning a new language without any basic knowledge about it.

    • I agree with you fully, when I am really confused about choosing apps too. There are too many of them, I can’t just test them all out. Then, I find a solution, I will go to app store and look at the comment of the app to see which section of the app is the best. Then I would download ones which suit my purpose for language learning. However, I would say I do not agree with you on the apps as a revision because, many apps such as Jiang hu (江户词库) can suit the needs of beginner well for they have organized their app into semi lessons. You learn vocabulary then grammar the sentence structure. But I do not think apps are great for everybody. For more advanced students or students in need of instructions of a test. No app can match the functions as teachers.

    • Thanks for your comment^^ Using apps on smartphones to learn the new language is a completely new experience for you and for me, a German beginner. I felt the same when I tried to learn the most basic knowledge in German through German apps four years ago. Firstly, I did not know which app to choose, and it took me more than 1 semester to eventually find a good online dictionary. Then I also spent much time on finding a good community where I could interact with others in German. But the language level in that community was rather high. To be honest, many apps of foreign language could not provide correct usage of words, and the information was so limited that I often find it difficult to check the meaning and usage of a longer phrase. Of course it can decrease the enthusiasm. Go back to ML, it is realistic that an appropriate app can be motivating, so teachers should recommend good ones to students to save time.

  9. Thanks for sharing. I also used apps to improve my English with my mobile phone, like Google News, Bai Ci Zan, IELTS Bro, Dictionary, and so on. I found them helpful for a period of time, especially when I need to improve certain English skills. Before taking IELTS, I spent lots of time on this app to practice. After the test, I seldom used and even deleted it. And for Google News, that was my teacher recommended to do so. The app is beautiful, concise, easy to get key points of news. But I couldn’t keep on the habit of reading news from this app later. Similar situations happens in the app Bai Ci Zan(for memorizing words). The longest time I keep learning apps on my phone is application for searching words with online dictionaries.

    After all, I think learning with phones is easy and convenient, and I often recommend useful apps to friends who want to learn English. But my experience of “giving up them” makes me doubt their sustainability. The point is not whether we use apps to learn, but how we keep on using apps to learn. Because there are thounsands of ways to distract users from keep on learning with mobile devices. But now people seems to find out solution to deal with it. Merchants of apps encourage people to use the app to learn language or memorizing vocabulary everyday and share their today’s learning on social media. In addition, as long as they keep on learning and sharing for a long time, like a hundred days, they will return the money that you give to the app when signing in the learning program at the beginning. Well, this may push people to form the habit and continue to do so after the learning program.

    As for the second question, I think this is difficult to do so for now, but it’s promising in the future. Parents will be definitely against that their children use phone. It is hard to control or check their learning process. Children may be easily distracted by something interesting on the phones. So, making fun apps for learning can catch children’s attention and allure them to learn through their mobile devices.

    • Wow!Thanks for your sharing Yan!This app just sounds amazing!I hear about it for the first time,and your recommendation just intrigues me a lot!I’ll try it later and I believe that it will be beneficial for language learners especially for English major students lol~
      As an English major student, I myself have also used many apps to facilitate language learning, such as BaiCiZhan, Shanbay,YouDao,English Fun Dubbing, IELTS Brothers and so on. From these experiences of using mobile learning we can see that it has so many advantages. So I think mobile learning should be promoted in China in the future to benefit more and more language learners.

  10. Thanks for your group’s sharing.
    I used to use the app “Youdao translator” to look up for the unknown word when reading articles. Comparing with printed dictionaries, I prefer mobile translators because it is portable, it allows me to look up unfamiliar words in anytime and anywhere. And carrying a big printed dictionary is too heavy for me. Besides, I can look up specific words frequently and efficiently. Using a mobile translator is less time-consuming when we are looking up for a particular word compared to look up in a print-dictionary.
    In terms of the second question, on the one hand, many parents do not allow their children using a mobile phone, because there is a stereotype that students are lack of self-restriction and most of their time spending on it is for entertainment. On the other hand, as the post has mentioned that” A successful mobile learning experience is one that combines technology and the curriculum closely. “ However, in mainland China, there is still not an app that closely related to the curriculum.

    • lol. Agree, Youdao Translation is very useful. It’s quick to check new words and get to know the different kinds of usage of a word based on the given sentences. It is inevitable that Chinese parents do not trust their children who could completely focus on learning when using mobile phones. It requires teachers to communicate with them and probablysart with doing some activities in class. So true that there is an empty part in our TEL in mainland China, and hope a mobile learning process can be systematically established some day. Every teachers should participate in this process. Thx for your comment!

  11. Thanks for your group’s sharing!

    Actually, we now constantly use mobile phones for language learning in this Information Age. We can learn language using our portable devices with easy access to the learning resources on the Internet.

    I began to use it for expanding vocabulary when I prepared my college entrance examination. It’s so convenient that I can know the meaning of the new words in a few seconds without wasting time on finding the target word by turning the papers in the dictionary. Also, at that time, I used the app called shanbay for setting the new words as my screen saver so that I could be more familiar with them.

    Not only various kinds of learning applications but also the learning resources shared by advanced learners in different social media like wechat and microblog could be capitalized on by learners for language learning. In this Information Age, learning resources are available everywhere.

    So I think there does exist a trend for promoting mobile learning in China. But nowadays, maybe only a few relatively developed cities could probably implement mobile learning due to the actual financial feasibility. But at the macro level, the first implementation in developed cities could be the trial to foresee the problems within the mobile learning and better avoid these problems in full operation with less costs.

    • Hello Yasmine!Thanks for your opinions~~~
      As an English major student, I have similar learning experiences as yours. Even nowadays, I still often use some mobile apps to further language study like shanbay, BaiCiZhan, IELTS Brothers and so on. Just as you mentioned, they are portable, so it is convenient for us to learn at any places.
      And I agree with your opinion that due to mobile learning’s affordances, it should be promoted in China.However, when promoting it to facilitate language learning, we should also consider its limitations. For example, for those who do not have a strong self-control, it is easy for them to get addicted in online games. So I guess the best time to promote the mobile learning is when most limitations are well considered and solutions for these problems are generated. Only then can it be beneficial for most learners.

  12. Thanks for your sharing.
    I have used many mobile phone apps during my language learning. For learning vocabulary, I used BaiCiZhan, by which I could understand the words meaning through pictures and learn its usages. I think it is quite convenient because it allows me to learn whenever and wherever possible. And it could also test my learning outcome and help me consolidate my learning. Besides, e-dictionary like YouDao is another useful app that enables me to look up for words quickly, which is far more convenient than print-dictionary. It could also show me the pronunciation by sounds instead of only printing the phonetics.I have also tried Coursera for learning courses from foreign universities. It provides teaching videos as well as assignments for learning. I need to pass all the tests and peer review for getting the course certificate.
    For the second question, I think there could be some difficulties in promoting mobile learning in China as Chinese learning system is quite exam-oriented. It could be hard for teachers to spare enough time to practice mobile learning in school. And nowadays, students are easily get addicted to mobile games, which makes it hard for teachers to control students when using mobile learning.
    Thus, it is important for teachers to set rules when using mobile learning. Using some monitoring system could be one of the useful ways to ensure the learning process is going smoothly. Assigning tasks might also motivate students to be concentrated during mobile learning. Teachers’ guidance plays a very important role in mobile learning and once students could form good habits in mobile learning, it could largely improve their learning outcomes.

    • Hey Jennifer! Thanks for your replying and I totally agree with your opinions. And I have similar learning experiences as yours, like using YouDao, BaiCiZhan etc.All of them can further our language learning and understanding. And these mobile learning ways can motivate our interest to some extent. What’s more, they are portable and convenient as you mentioned. However, as an old saying in China,”Every coin has its two sides.” So does mobile learning. They do have their limitations. For example, students are easily addicted to the games. And mobile learning does not fit for Chinese classrooms because in China assessment in learning is always result-oriented. So we need to tackle this problem. And I think your solutions are quite useful like assigning tasks, using monitoring system, setting rules etc. Hence, I think that we should adopt its advantages and avoid its shortcomings, only then could we maximize mobile learning use.

  13. Thanks for your sharing. As for the fisrt question, the answer is yes. I always acquire knowledge in various fields. When I was in college, I used some apps to learn IELTS: do some practice about spaeking and listening. That is a systematic learning activity. Then, I will also come across some websites, like TED and Youtube, which can be defined as a subtle way to learn. Learners can learn what they can not think of in that way. Mobile learning is the way that is not limited by place or time. Learners can learn anything no matter they are in subway or just have some rest in shooping mall. I think that is a convenient way for learning.

    • Chelsey, you mentioned two benefits of adopting m-learning: we don’t need to worry about geographical and time constraints. I hold the same thoughts too. However, some limitations are worth us talking about too like distracting students’ attention. Parental supervision and teachers’ monitor may be some possible solutions.

    • Hello Chelsey~~~Thanks for your opinions and I can’t agree with you anymore. And I believe that learners who have experienced mobile learning all benefit from them somehow.Taking myself as an example,I have used IELTS Brothers to help me to learn IELTS, and I have used English Fun Dubbing to improve my English pronunciation. Besides, I have used TED to practice my listening. I am so beneficial from all these different kinds of apps, and I will try Youtube later because some friends also have recommended it to me because we can do some self-learning on it. It must be very helpful I think.Due to the advantages of mobile learning, I believe that it will be promoted in China in coming days to benefit more learners.

  14. Thank you for your sharing! When I prepare TEM-8 and IELTS, I have used apps on mobile phone to facilitate my English learning, like word recite app and IELTS bro. But I didn’t use it any more after passing the exam. I think the idea you proposed is really thought-provoking. Because it is a fact that these apps cannot facilitate our lifelong language learning. According to different needs at different situations, new apps need to be developed so that it can satisfy all kinds of learning needs to promote and encourage our persistent learning.

  15. Thank you for sharing! I also usually use e-dictionary and some apps to learn vocabulary on my phone. I think the biggest advantage to learn language by phones is that we can learn wherever and whenever we want by using our phone. I used to listen to voa news online by my phone every morning when I was an undergraduate, which helped me to improve my listening skills and meanwhile enabled me to learn about what happened in the world everyday. This blog is so inspiring! It is true that integrating technologies to language learning actually helps not only develop our language skills but also other skills that we need in daily life. However, I concern that as English is actually a foreign language in the Chinese context, it may be a little bit difficult to design mobile learning activities that have authentic meanings for students since they seldom use English in their daily life.

  16. As for the second question, I think of course we can, but we don’t know how. Just like game-assistant learning, there is an issue of self-control and autonomy of students. How can we keep students focus on language learning without distracting by other things? I think one way to deal with this problem is that teachers and app developers need to work very closely and make a really interesting app for students. Even if students are addicted to it, there will be no worries because the app itself aiming at language learning. Now the phone can only be used as a learning aid rather than a main language learning device.

  17. Thanks for your insightful sharing! This really broaden my understanding of “mobile learning”. I believe everyone experienced using apps to learn a language. There are many useful types of learning apps like vocabulary-focusing, exams-oriented, speaking-focusing and so on. We learners can find the most suitable one for our own situation.

    I think mobile learning is more applicable for those people who are more self-controlled as most mobile phones own more entertainment functions which may distract students. And in China, one common rule for schools before university-level is no mobile phone in campus, so I think this may not be that applicable for China,especially for young teenagers in enclosed or semi-enclosed schools. But it should be a motivating way to help university students or even adult learners as a supplementary tool.

    • Hi Zoe~ Thanks for your sharing and I agree with some of your opinions.
      I have similar learning experiences with yours, such as using TED to improve my listening skills.It is really beneficial to me, since it can not only motivate me to learn language, but also intrigues me a lot.So I really hope that it will be promoted in China soon so that more and more learners can benefit from it. But as you mentioned, mobile phones is restricted to be used before university, so maybe it could be promoted pervasively in university.

    • Thanks for your support! As this way of learning is less boring and much easier for students, I think using TED can also help students to form a good habit of learning things, no matter it’s about language or the knowledge conveyed through the language. Always be ready to learn something is quite important for a person’s continuous development.

  18. Hi all. Thanks for your sharing. Now I can systematically learn what is mobile learning as well as its affordances and constraints.
    As for the first question, I definitely say it is yes. Ostensibly, using mobile phones is 100% convenient to check news and search for some interesting information. With the advancing technologies, a growing number of apps have been assembled on online e-shops. Many apps have great functions to facilitate anything that you hope to learn. Specifically for language learning, I downloaded several famous news apps like BBC, CNN, and the Guardians, etc. Not only do they help me know the ongoing world, but they practice my Language competence simultaneously. Because of its convenience, it can fulfill our fragmental time, which makes our life more efficient.
    For the second question, there might be a little conflict with the current teaching context in China. The educational authorities like schools now usually forbid students to bring their mobile phones into school, considering such devices might distract students’ heed. We cannot question their motivation and reasoning behind such policies, in particular, students, especially for primary or secondary school students, have worse self-discipline. However, this trend, I think, can also be led to a good side. School teachers and parents may have strict control for students’ usage of mobile phones. Software developers can also design some functions to limit wild usage. So the key point, you see, is how we use mobile devices to facilitate us.

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