Edited by: Fiona, Lissie, Dallas

What is “Mobile learning” ?

People being allowed to gain knowledge, skills and experience through a mobile interaction with technology, beyond the limitation of contexts, is called “mobile learning”.

Figure 1. Mobile devices for learning

One most important issue of mobile learning is about the “ mobility” augmented by personal and public technology, and “mobility” could be detailedly explained through six categories (Sharples, Arnedillo Sanchez, Milrad & Vavoula, 2009):

  1. Mobility in physical space: the location might or might not be that relevant to learning
  2. Mobility of technology: the devices of leaning from laptops to mobile phone
  3. Mobility in conceptual space: learning topics and themes will shift with learners’ interest
  4. Mobility in social space: learners perform within various social groups.
  5. Learning dispersed over time: learning is a cumulative process involving a variety of learning experiences across multiple learning contexts

Designing mobile learning:

As Sharples emphasizes, the designing of technology for mobile learning needs to be associated with enriching interactions within and across contexts. Some of the key principles of mobile technology learning design are listed below (Naismith & Corlett, 2006) :

  1. Create quick and simple interactions;
  2. Prepare flexible materials that can be accessed across contexts;
  3. Consider special affordances of mobile devices that might add to the learner experience (e.g. the use of audio or user anonymity);
  4. Use mobile technology not only to “deliver” learning but to facilitate it, making use of the facilities in current mobile devices for voice communication, note taking, photography and time management.

Sharples points out that the use of mobile technology is never the main aim for a learning activity but has to serve as a means to facilitate or benefit the learners. Some of the learning sessions can still rely on conventional means if necessary.

A Case Study: The AMULETS project

The AMULETS (Advanced Mobile and Ubiquitous Learning Environments for Teachers and Students) project is the pragmatic use of smartphones, PDAs (personal digital assistants), and GPS devices. The using of these digital devices set a bridge between out-door and in-door class activities.

Figure 2. GPS devices

The premise of AMULETS is that the design of innovative mobile learning activities should be taken in authentic environment, and should be under the guidance of collaborative learning scenarios as well as the support of mobile and ubiquitous technologies.

One trial of the AMULETS project:

The subject of this trial was learning about “the forest”. 26 fourth grade students (10-11 years old) participated in and were separated into 7 groups. These activities lasted for 2 days, only one group performed each time. The challenges for children were to explore the physical environment, identify different types of trees and measure the height and age of the trees. The tasks of some children were to record still images and video clips by using smart phones and then to explain how they solve the problems. The co-created content was automatically encoded into meta-data, including the elements such as GPS coordinates, time stamps and phone ID. These attributes provided rich contextual information for later classroom use. Pedagogical coaches gave children practical support of using techniques to measure the height of the trees. In addition, the animated roles were used to deliver the location-specific content.

Affordances of mobile learning:

  1. The mobile devices are portable, it is easier to refer to mobile devices in out-door actives.
  2. People in different places share the information and cooperate on their project through mobile devices, which improve the efficiency of the team work.
  3. The mobile devices support a person through a life-long learning, these mobile tools help children record their life and create a “life blog”, which can be extended with tools to support personal projects(e.g. learning languages, sports, hobbies) while they are growing up. In old age, these life blogs become the storehouse of their useful experience.

Challenges of mobile learning:

When it comes to the evaluation of mobile technology used for learning purposes, Sharples draw attention to the challenge. The three challenges mentioned are all related to the “unpredictable” nature of mobile technology:

  1. Unpredictability of the context of use, which means that the context of learners using mobile technology varies frequently, (background noise, lighting, posture.etc.) making it more difficult to observe, predict or simulate.
  2. Unpredictability of the learning process, which means that learners receive informal learning, different from traditional formal learning process—confined to the school places or institutes within systematic curriculum. Conventional assessment cannot fit in well with learners in the context of mobile technology, where learners get their learning experience through images, notes and audio recordings.
  3. Unpredictability of the mode of use, which means that designers cannot predict the way learners use the technology. A new technology may change a learner’s learning practice.


  1. Among the types of mobile devices (smart phones, laptop, etc.), which do you prefer to use for language learning, why?
  2. What is your interpretation of “mobile/mobility”? Please illustrate it with an example.
  3. What do you think may be the constraints/affordances of mobile technology applied to language learning?

49 thoughts on “Mobile Learning — Small Devices, Big Issues

  1. I prefer using mobile phones because of its wide availability. Mobility makes the most immediate sense to me in terms of “mobility in conceptual space”, “social space” and “learning dispersed over time” because they vividly capture how mobile appliances embrace our life dynamically in the modern era, i.e. they tend to cater to our needs in a personalized manner. For example, a student who wants to acquire native-like speaking skills may download a Tandem learning app at one point, but may change into using an app like Baicizhan for improving his/ her vocabulary in IELTS later. The biggest affordance, from a second language learner perspective, is that mobile learning enables such learners to immerse in the language flexibly outside class. Without it, second language learners may not get enough chances to practise and become more like the third language ones. However, for the biggest constraint, schools in Hong Kong are still mostly too traditional and exam-oriented. That is, they do not allow students to use their phones or computers in class. The exam-oriented syllabus is also unfavourable to mobile learning.

    • Hi Camie, I totally agree with you that mobile learning provide second language learners with lots of changes to learn the target language in out-of-class learning. With mobile learning, learners can learn the language wherever and whenever they are free, which means they can make good use of their fragment time.

    • I’m sorry that I made a mistake. I mean, mobile learning provides learners with los of chances to learn the target language.

    • Hi,Camie, thanks for your sharing. I agree with your point that mobile learning makes language learning not only limited in class but accepted almost everywhere outside the classroom. the “mobility” of the devices we use makes it possible for us to learn in the fragmentary time.
      As for exam-oriented class, I think phones are unfavorable not only at the school level, but parents and even students may not accept as well. Under the pressure of competing with others in college entrance exam, many students, especially those with ambitions pay more attention on how to improve their score but not how class is organized. If they found the mobile learning is not efficient enough, although it is much more interest, they still choose to have class in a traditional way.
      So, the problem for teachers is how to embed mobile learning in class not only by using its form but can really let students learn in an efficient way.

    • Lissie, I agree with you. Just a minor point – I heard that mobile phones are allowed in prestigious secondary schools in Hong Kong without much of a problem, since those students are highly motivated and disciplined. Also, some university professors like using certain apps, like in-class voting and drawing statistics, with significant success. Perhaps in these contexts mobile learning are effective.

  2. 1. Among the types if mobile devices, I prefer smart phones to learn language. First, there are a lot of APPs which are both interesting and good for language learning that can download in the cell phones. Second, we can even learn languages in the fragmented time, such as when we are in the subway, since mobile phones are the necessity when we go out, and they are portable and light.
    3. Even though learners can have lots of autonomy when they use mobile technology to learn languages, but they may not by persistent.

    • Hey Una, I agree with you that though sometimes learners have lots of autonomy when they use mobile technology to learn languages, they may not by persistent in using it. I think the teacher can actually give some guidences to students when they use it or apply the app into language teaching class.

    • Persistence is a problem found in most learners. They need some extrinsic goals at the very least, and hopefully some of them can be turned into intrinsic drives, in order for them to learn persistently. Affordances from technologies alone would not be enough.

    • Hi Una, I agree with your second point, in the era of technology students are easily overwhelmed by various apps and they may be also distracted by other apps once they are not that interested in the original one, so it isn’t a positive trend and teachers should guide and interfere in the process to avoid possibile problems.

    • Hi, Una. How to keep students persistent in learning English is a big problem. I think the main reason is that language learning takes a large amount of time, and efforts somestimes can not pay off, especially in areas, like China, where students have no adaquate contact with English outside the classroom. So I don’t think technology is to blame as this problem has occurred since language learning took place. But how to take advantage of digital technology to solve this problem is really worth consideration.

  3. Hi Fiona, Lissie, and Dallas, thank you for your sharing. Since the function of mobile phone is similar to a laptop and it is more convenient to carry, I would prefer using mobile phones. As far as I am concerned, mobility is one of the characteristics which can be used to describe a product or instrument. Thus, a mobile phone with different functions of apps have the characteristic of mobility. As Camie mentioned, those language-learning apps in a mobile phone are mobile instruments for language learners.

    As for the affordances, I think mobile learning can be used in university’s language teaching classes since students can bring their mobile phones in class. And the teacher could make good use of this fact to ask students take advantage of their mobile phones, such as checking unfamiliar words in class, finding resources.

    • Hi, Grace. I agree using mobile learning in university is a good idea. Mobile phone is an excellent facilitator on class. Especially, after entering university, we sometimes encounter gaps between received knowledge and given knowledge. Besides asking professor for explanations, referring to phone to find some resources is another good choice.

    • The voting function in some mobile phone apps is found to be highly useful and appealing among university students. It gives instant, evaluative value to both students and professors. Statistics can be drawn for further analysis as well. I have seen secondary schools buying software and special remote controls for the same purpose, but they are relatively costly, and less convenient to use than the apps.

    • I agree that it is meaningful for college students to make full use of mobile phone to learn, I remember that when I was in the freshman year in university, I got my first mobile phone and I used it to record my foreign teacher’s class as he spokes English so beautifully. Then I went back to the dormitory and listened to it again and again. However, right now there are a lot of effective applications specifically aiming at speaking, listening, writing, reading and vocabulary learning could be downloaded. And university students have a lot of time that they can arrange by themselves. So I think it is a good idea to teach university students how to make full use of the telephone to learn.

  4. To my knowledage, “mobility” means freedom, flexiblity and autonomy. To be more specific, learners are allowed the freedom to choose what they learn in accordance with their wishes. They move beyond formal classroom learning and are able to implement their learning in any place at any time. At the same time, learners take charge of their own learning process and rely less on teachers’ instruction.

    So based on my understanding of mobility, I prefer smart phones as a way of moblie language learning. First of all, smart phones are far easier to carry and afford students much more flexibility. They can be used without geographical and wi-fi limitations. Students can enjoy their language learning as long as they have time. Secondly, I think nowadays smart phones are much more widely used than laptop or ipad. Almost every learner has access to smart phones but it is not possilbe for each learner to buy a laptop or ipad. Therefore, teachers, undoubtedly, should encourage learners to utilize smart phones, an ubiquitous tool, to promote their language learning.

    • Hi, Eric, I agree with your understandings about “mobility” in mobile leaning — freedom, flexibility and autonomy, which means students are provided a wider learning environment to function their self-instruction. As your preference, i believe smart phone would be chosen by a large number of language learners as their leaning devices, especially adult learners. We have to admit that the appearance of various educational apps allow learners to embark on their studies beyond geographic and economic conditions, motivating a great number of people continuing leaning and practicing English no matter how old they are and how busy their work are.

    • Just a brief note on the point of Wifi — as a matter of fact, many schools do not have wi-fi connections in every corner, as they do not expect students to use their phones or computers in school freely. Even for the schools that welcome IT learning, they probably provide students with laptop computers and ask them to have lessons in a computer room with Wi-fi installed.

  5. 1. I prefer using smart phones for language learning, and the reasons are given below: The mobile phone is portable and it’s easier to carry, which means that I can learn the target language at any time or any places I want.
    2. According to this article, there are five dimensions of mobility: physical space, technology, conceptual space, social space and learning dispersed over time. To be more specific, learners can learn the target language without the restriction of place, time, the form of technologies, learning contexts, etc. Take Baicizhan for example, students can learn the vocabularies in school or out of school, and the learning contexts are not fixed.
    3. Unmonitored and excessive use of mobile phone apps will easily make learners indulge them in the online world, reducing the face-to-face interactions in real life, which is a potential drawback for L2 learning.

    • Hi, Alice, I totally agree with what you mentioned about mobile learning’s constrains on reducing the face-to-face interaction in real life. It need to be admitted that mobile learning provides a good platform to connect learners with shared interests and learning goals together, allowing them to exchange their ideas and experience of language learning. However, focusing on online interaction and ignoring the face-to-face conversations and discussions with partners would weaken learners’ oral speaking skills and non-verbal expression abilities to some extent, negatively impacting on language leaning and future language application.

    • HI Alice, I really agree with you that the use of mobile devices may easily get learners obsessed with them in a bad way. Therefore, teachers and parents should really keep an eye on building and also mataining a proper use of those devices by the learners.

  6. I prefer using smart phones for language learning. Firstly, it is portable and light, and its mobility provides me with more opportunities to get exposed to English learning at any time and any place. These days, in most language learners’ phones we can find several educational apps, which change traditional language learning into much more interesting things. Besides those specific language learning apps, I can also check or get useful learning materials or information from the Internet easily. However, the mobile technology might also have some constraints for language learning. For example, learners might get distracted from the classroom learning, learners might make use these tools for cheating in exams or plagiarizing in assignments.

    • Hi, Michelle, the portal and light feature of smartphone should be the most obvious advantage when learners comparing various mobile leasing devices. The advent of multiple educational apps offer a good platform for learners to make full use of fragment time to memory vocabularies, reviewing in-class notes, etc, widening the scope of language leaning. However, as you mentioned, diverse functions of smartphones also result in distraction and plagiarizing actions as well, for this reason, I believe at elementary level, teaching and leaning via smartphones should not account for too much proportion of language learning.

  7. I prefer using laptop to learn because it has a bigger screen, making me visually more comfortable. And also, when I have to use a mobile phone for a long time (learning), I will keep the posture as with a hand holding the mobile phone and the head down to the screen, which makes me tired and uncomfortable.
    And my interpretation of mobility focuses more on the flexibility in the social space. Communicating with someone who are actually far away from you and exchanging one’s ideas in different cultural and social settings really meet the criterion of what I regarded mobility.
    Actually, I think mobile learning can not be adopted in classroom settings. Since they are so called ‘mobile’, the best advantage of these kind of learning devices is its mobility, Restricting it into the classroom setting will lose its affordance and the integration will be extremely hard. However, if teachers can smartly use these kind of devices in the out-of-class activities, they can be of great help to arouse students’ interest and give students’ confidence in the language. So, I suppose mobile learning would better be used as a supplementation of the formal instruction.

    • Hello Jiaying. Thanks for your sharing.
      Mobility characterizes mobile learning. That is to say, moble device, if well-used, can provide a learning platform beyond the classroom at any time and any place.This is one of the most wellknown advantages of digital device. I agree with you that mobile learning shouldn’t be confined in classroom learning but can serve as an extra extensive learning platforms :Learners are encouraged to continue their out-of-class learning activities by mobile devices with proper guidance from the teachers

  8. I suppose that I choose different mobile devices according to disparate learning tasks. For instance, for gaining new vocabulary in daily life, I would like to use smart phone seeing that I can look up the unknown words or phrases via electronic dictionary, and I can memorize new words via those APPs like BaiCiZhan or Edo Word Games. However, when I need to compose a writing task or complete a reading task, I prefer a laptop, given that with a larger screen, I can read and write more quickly, though I don’t know the exact reason for it. For speaking learning, I think both mobile phone and laptop are okay. I can use IELTS Bro. APP to practice oral English, and I can use Skype on laptop to communicate with foreign friends.

    From my perspective, mobility means portability. For example, mobile phones are carry-able, which can be brought by people wherever they want.

    The greatest affordance is that learners can have their informal learning chances after the formal learning in shcools.
    While the most challenging constrain may be that students are in lack of self-principle. In this case, students may be distracted by other APPs or information from the Internet.

    • Hi, Laurel, I kind of agree with what you argue about. I think mobile phones play a more important and functional role in real-time communication, like chatting on WeChat or checking the simultaneous information concerning tests, which surely benefit me when I was preparing for IELTS speaking.

    • Hello, Laural. Thanks for your sharing.
      I think your preference to different devices when learning English has set a typical example of making very good use of mobile technology to study. Electronic devices like laptops or mobile phones possess various characteristics and advantages. A good leaner can observe this and make good choices to learn a language. A gun itself is just a tool. Whether it is harmful or beneficial to the users depends on the way it is uesd. Mobile phones and other similar technology devices are the same. Students are supposed to receive proper guidance on the usage so that they would know how to seize the chance to exploit such new tools.

  9. Hello, Fiona, Lissie, Dallas. Thank you for the clear display of the affordances and challenges in Mobile learning. For your 1st question, I prefer tablet for language learning, because the screen size is relatively big compared to smart phones so that it may not strain my eyes that fast. For the 2nd question, I think mobility refers to easy to move around but the functions do not reduce. For example, they are lighter in weight and smaller in size and still have connection to the Internet and functions are as powerful as the importable one. For your last question, one of the constraints is that there are so many distractions since the mobile device is very powerful. Other than the learning apps/software there are other entertainment options on the mobile devices, so that the learners need to be very self-disciplined and determined to be not disturbed and distracted by those interferences.

    • Hello Eva! Thanks for your sharing the opinions. I agree with you. I notice that many of you mention the wider screen when comparing the advantages of different mobile devices. Laptops have wider screens and are equipped with keyboard, which make it comfortable and easy to type words or edit documents as well as playing games. Whereas moble phones are small and light and usually users don’t need to wait too long to turn on the operating system.
      One of the challenging points is the distraction that a digital device may bring about, as you mentioned before.Most of the English learners are children and adolescents. They are relatively easy to get distracted by other information or apps. I strongly suggest a more customized learning system that cut off any irrelevant access to entertainment and information.

  10. Hi, Fiona, Lissie, and Dalla, thank you for sharing, and you have been stressing the issue I am confronted everyday. For me, learning on mobile phone is preferable, mainly for its portable size. and maybe it is the size that affects the way I use mobile phone and laptop. Almost learning activities could be done on a smart phone, but if I want to do it in a more comfortable and relaxing way, a laptop is a good choice, whether it is for online chatting or for playing games. Larger screen makes me more involved.
    My interpretation of mobility is that everything is moveable. As for digital devices, it may refer to portability, Internet availability and accessibility.
    The merits of using mobile techs may be that learning could happen everywhere, at any time. It makes it possible to maintain the contact with others. The downside could be the alienation between individuals. People are so indulged in the cyber world so that they ignore the contact and communication between them and others in the real world. In a word, advantages should be made good use of reduce the sideeffects on our lives.

    • Hello, Nicole. Thanks for your sharing your ideas. I totally agree with you.
      Mobility that mobile digital device possess in nature indicates portability, internet availibility and accessibility. It provides us so much convenience to access abundant information and realization of many different functions and services. Thus learning could happen at any moment and anywhere if the learners have the intention to learn.So we are advised to make good use of them as a tool to study a language.
      As for the downside, Internet accessibility seems to enable individuals to reach a wider range of social circle, but it also distracts our attention to the real world environment. But I think it depends on the users. If we are aware of the problem, we will probably try to pay attention to the people around us.

  11. Hello, Fiona, Lissie, Dallas, I personally prefer smart phones as a tool of learning because they are more flexible and portable than laptops, and people usually have phones with them wherever they go not laptops. Besides some laptops are heavy so that not anyone likes to carry it everywhere whereas smart phone users can finish daily language tasks whenever they are available.
    As for the definition of “mobility”, I think it means it’s easy for users to use and they can bring this kind of tools to wherever they like. The constraints of mobile learning may be lack of suervision for learners as a young age because they are not self-disciplined enough to focus on mobile learning apps only.

    • Hi, Julie, phones are prefer for many of our classmates in this post, I like phones too. As you said, it is convenient to take with, but more than this, the applications designed for smart phones are developed quickly, compared with website, I prefer to use applications to study language since they are easily to manipulate. For example, I prefer the app of China Daily rather than website, its front page is clearer and easier to read.

  12. Hi, Fiona, Lissie, and Dallas. Thank you for your sharing.

    Personally, I prefer to use the smartphone to learn English, which is more convenient and portable. Besides, I use the smartphone more frequently than laptops, on the subway, at the restaurant, it is not constrained by location or time.
    However, it also embodies some constraints that we tend to use a smartphone to learn English in fragmented time, which will influence our language learning outcomes. Since learning language also requires a good chunk of time with great concentration, we cannot learn effectively and systematically on the subway in a smartphone.

    In that case, I prefer to use the smartphone as an add-on in learning language, the choice of the apps for learning should be easy and interesting and as an extension of curriculum study.

    • Hi, Vicky, I totally agree with your idea of learning language with chunk of time. Therefore, as teachers, I do will recommend students use multiple educational apps to review what they learned today and preview the vocabulary list they are required to test tomorrow within fragment time, but i may not allocate too much time to instruct very important linguistic points via smartphones. The complete language leaning process basically consists of presentation – practice – production, and all of these three phases can not be finished in a short time, which means spending chunk of time on interpersonal interaction activities in target language would benefit all the three stages.

  13. I would prefer laptop personally, and the main reason for that is I found myself easily get distracted by the prompts of news and instant messages from the social networking apps. When I learn language on laptop, I will usually cut the connection with others by not log in all the social networking pages and concentrate myself on learning only.
    As for the constrains of mobile technologies, I think, the distraction from phone calls, instant message, emails and social networking apps would be the main constrain. Moreover, generally equipped with en electronic screen, the mobile technologies are usually not eyesight-friendly thus makes it difficult for users to staring at it for a long period of time.

    • Hi, Grace, the point you mentioned that these mobile technologies hurt our eyes is really interesting, I find the same problem in my life, not only eyes, my neck and sometimes fingers feel painful after using digital devices for a long time. And I will use steam eye mask to let my eyes have a relax.
      As for what you thought the mobile technologies may distract you from study, I think you can close the message reminding function, and set a goal for your study, which may help you concentrate on the content.

  14. Hi Fiona, Lissie, and Dallas, thank you for your detailed introduction for mobile leanring. I prefer to use smart phones for language learning. First, I can have access to relevant information and help with the portability of smart phones. Second, I can use time and space flexibly, for example, to improve my listening skills, with mobile phone, I could carry out the listening activities successfully while lying in the bed, sitting in a car, walking to school or travelling. Third, smart phone provides private space for me to practice my speaking and pronunciation, since I feel unconfident to practice in the public, besides, I could also receive feedback from teachers and other learners, as I can send the records to them.

    The affordances of mobile-based language learning are learners can have flexible time and space for learning; they can have continuous learning without disturbing by the space; they can adapt to their own learning habits and preferences; they can have immediate access to the internet for help once problems occur. But there are also some disadvantages, learners are easily disturbed by the noisy settings unless they are self-motivated; it is helpful for practicing reading, listening and speaking, but it is problematic for practicing writing, as small screen and keyboard constraints the input of extensive writing.

  15. Hi Fiona, Lissie, and Dallas, thank you for your introduction on mobile learning. As for me, I prefer to choose smartphone as a tool for mobile learning. The biggest reason is smartphone can get access to Internet by cellar data easily, rather than laptop which can only use Internet in Wi-fi. Besides, smartphone is more portable and convenient to use in outdoors.
    Mobile learning is a new learning way that break the limitation of physical space so that learners could learn any time any place they like, not just indoors. So it could help learners make full use of every piece of time in learning.

    • Hi, KiKi. I agree with your opinion that mobile phone is facilitating students to make full use of every piece of time in their daily life to learn, such as the application called shanbeidanci, which is designed for vocabulary learning. I pretty much like the function that I can set how many words I would like to remember everyday, and it keeps reminding me to open it to study everyday. Thanks for the gentle reminders, I can remember a certain number of new words on the bus, before I go to bed and so on, making full use of all of my spare time.

  16. Good morning and thank you for your contributions on the topic of mobbile learning. As an English learner and a future teacher, i would prefer to use smartphones to teach students language in speaking and listening since that , it is more convenient to bring a smartphone than a laptop. However, if i teach writing and reading, i think using laptop is much suitable because students can take notes on the laptops and they can also use google docs to revise their writing at the same time.

    My understanding towards mobile is that it is a new kind of learning method that language learners can learn knowledge without the limitation of space and time.

    As for the constraints of mobile learning to language learners, i suppose that some language learners would use mobile devices to play games or browse other websites unrelated to language learning if the assignments are given to complete after school and teachers could not control their mobile devices. How to manage students’ use of mobile devices and make good use of them is a problem to me.

  17. Hi, I personally prefer laptop as the internal storage and specification are much bettter compared with smart phones. I feel more comfortable with tying on the laptop and reading on the laptop. I love one of the interpretions of mobility as the way of learning dispersed over time: learning is a cumulative process involving a variety of learning experiences across multiple learning contexts. I think different learning experiences can misellaneouly complement our learning accumulation better, and m-learning can serve as one component of it, providing different opportunities for us to get access to audio and visual forms.

  18. Hello, Fiona, Lissie, Dallas. Thank you for your detailed post which includes the introduction, basic ideas, case study and affordances and challenges in your mind. I also agree that unpredictability can be big problem for mobile learning. Personally, I am a beloved user who are firmly sticked to the mobile phones everyday. However, I can’t tell I prefer language learning on my phones.
    Mobility is the most powerful affordance to smart phones, I am very sure about it. However, I am not highly autonomous and self-disciplined learner myself, I can not constraint myself not to use other apps like microblog, youtube, instagram, or some games to entertain myself. I may be addicted to those apps instead of learning on my phones. While learning on laptop may be better for me because I am too clumsy to play online games.

    • Hello, Eating. I think you have come up with an insightful point. It is true that learning language through these apps requires a relatively high level of self-control. For students who lack self-discipline, they may easily be detracted by other light-hearted information on the phone.

  19. I prefer using mobile phones to practice listening and speaking as for its mobility, which means availability and flexibility in time and space to me. I can listen to English videos and record my own speaking and listen to it anytime and anywhere. However, the mobile phone screen is too small for practicing reading and writing. Also, keeping focus for a long time may lead to exhaustion.
    The constraints of mobile technology applied in language learning may be that students are not allowed to use mobile phones and laptops in mainland china and the games and activities developed in mobile phones sometimes focus too much on interest but not language learning itself. For example, the popular vocabulary learning application “baicizhan”, it was once popular because the way people remember words is similar to the way people play another game call “xiguadazhan” which only emphasizes how quick people can recognize a word. People do not have the chance to clearly listen to the pronunciation, reading the usage and knowing the other forms of it. The affordances mainly could be found in time-efficient and motivating.
    As for mobility, it is more or less like the affordances of mobile devices to me. With a mobile phone, learners are no longer limited to the resources in school, they are now offered the chance to get accessed to the best resources all over the world.

  20. Hello, Fiona, Lissie, Dallas. Thank your for presenting such a thorough explanation of the merits and drawbacks of Mobile learning. As for the first question, maybe learning with smart phones is my preference, considering the portability and convenience of our phones. Compared to laptops, smart phones are easier to carry so that I can make use of my phone without the constraint of time and space. For example, when I am on my way to school on the subway, I’d like to take out my phone and acquire some reading materials from Shanbei(an English learning App). In terms of Question 2, from my point of view, mobility can be interpreted as the ability to move easily and quickly. For the third question, one of the disadvantages of mobile learning could be that it fail to provide learners with a systematic learning so that the learning process is mostly fragmented.

  21. Hi Fiona, Lissie and Dallas, thanks for your sharing. For your first question, I am likely to use the smartphone rather than the laptop for my language learning. Its portability enables me to learn language almost anywhere and anytime so that the fragmented time can be well used for language learning. For the second question, in my view, the definition of mobility is closer to “mobility in the social group”, which put more emphasis on its interactive function. People with mobile devices not only get information from the outside world as well as delivering the responses. As for the constraint, I think it is maybe a problem that students are easily attracted by other applications on the mobile devices during the learning process.

    • Hi, Danielle, it is also my concern that students may be distracted by other entertaining applications when they are trying to learn. As for me, it is a real situation that every time I need to look up a word that I don’t know with the help of the on-line dictionary in my phone, I can not help checking my WeChat and Instagram, which is really distracting and time-wasting. Therefore, if teachers really want to apply mobile phones in the teaching period, a tracking and supervising method must be invented simultaneously.

  22. Hi, Fiona, Lissie, and Dallas, thank you for this interesting sharing!

    1. Personally, I think these different tools have different affordances. Choosing which one to use may largely depend on what I’m going to do. For example, if I’m going to write my essay or do some group work on Google doc., I would prefer a laptop to a smartphone in that it should be more effective and convenient. If I’m going to read online news or do some ‘easier’ work, then I think a smartphone would be enough for me. Therefore, in my opinion, they all have quite similar functions and the preference should be matched with the specific use.

    2. “Mobility” is the specific attribution of mobile devices that they can be used wherever their possessors want to use them. For example, suppose I’m now in a supermarket, going to buy a lipstick that best suits me, however, I don’t understand the English word on them that describes the color, then I could immediately take out my phone and look it up on the online dictionary. Before when there were no smartphones, people could only remember the word and go to find a paper dictionary which is not “mobile”.

    3. The affordances could be concluded as being portable, convenient, and efficient, and is especially instrumental in facilitating people’s life-long learning ability. The challenges may basically be the “freedom” it contains, making it impossible for teachers and parents to supervise and guide the students when they use those devices.

Comments are closed.