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
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.
- Have you ever tried to use mobile phones to learn the language? If you have, please share with us.
- Do you think it is possible to promote mobile learning in China?
(P.S. To open the links, we recommend Google and Safari to you.)