What is Mobile Learning?

People increasingly expect to be connected to the Internet and the rich tapestry of knowledge it contains wherever they go. Mobile devices, including smartphones and tablets, enable users to do just that via cellular networks and wireless power. At the end of 2012, the mobile market consisted of over 6.5 billion subscribers, with a majority living in developing countries. The improvement of mobile networks and affordability of smartphones and tablets is pointing to a future where every individual will have access to the world wide web via their handheld computer or phone. The unprecedented evolution of these devices has opened the door to myriad uses for education. Learning institutions all over the world are exploring ways to make their websites, educational materials, resources, and opportunities all available online and optimized for mobile devices. The significance for teaching and learning is that these devices can facilitate every manner of educational experience, allowing learners to access remote laboratories and conduct experiment, and organize virtual video meetings with peers all over the world, and collaborate on shared documents or projects in the cloud among other things. Over the past several years, mobile learning has earned its place as a top priority for entrepreneurs and educators that are exploring mobile learning solutions and researching their supporting pedagogies.

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(1) How might this technology be relevant to the educational sector you know best?

  • Mobile Learning is here and now at the University of Leeds. We have our own bespoke UniLeeds App (See App Section), the Blackboard app tailored to deliver content to mobile devices from our VLE (LMS), and a pilot project using mobile devices to vote in lectures. We email and text students as a matter of course, with both of those types of communication now accessed on mobile devices, and we "push" announcements from the VLE (LMS) to those self same devices. However, we are still all about consumption, rather than creation, when it comes to mobile - happy for students to see materials we have created FOR their devices, not yet prepared to accept work that has been created ON their device. We are also still lumbered with a BYOD policy (See BYOD section for that particular rant!) which means everything has to be done three or four times in order to reach the majority of the students. The day we provide devices for all staff and students will be the day we make the great leap forward and become truly mobile-centric - damian.mcdonald damian.mcdonald Oct 14, 2013
  • Place-based mobile augmented reality is here. The ARIS platform (http://arisgames.org) is newly redesigned to enable people to easily create place-based mobile learning. Tons of examples on their site (http://arisgames.org/projects-and-papers/) that range from "Jewish Time Jump" (a game on Jewish history), games on geology and botany. Another example of an ARIS project is "Explore East Cesar Chavez", a place-based scavenger hunt at St. Edward's University. This activity was designed as part of a graphic design course, with the goal to prompt experiential participation to see an important area of Austin, TX through a critical, culturally relevant lens (
    http://think.stedwards.edu/tltr/blog/post/tech-snack-faculty-creating-engaging-mobile-learning-aris). Also discussed at the ARIS Summit 2013, at the Games Learning Society 9.0 Conference (http://arisgames.org/aris-summit-2013/). Doctoral level work is in progress using ARIS and other place-based mobile augmented learning experiences. See Seann Dikkers's Gaming Matter group at Ohio University for examples that include "Horror on the Ridges", a DBR study of mobile gaming and emotion (
    http://gie2013.sched.org/event/1407dc3e6d9cea0fe3a0bb248f5c6006#.Ul3yvSRnqaE and http://gamingmatter.com/GM/talks/Entries/2013/8/9_2013_8_GiE_Conference_-_Horror!.html). This game, btw was designed at the site of an abandoned insane asylum. - jasonr jasonr Oct 15, 2013

(2) What themes are missing from the above description that you think are important?

  • Instant 24/7 access to the internet for all? Surely this will lead to a move away from traditional fact-based learning and teaching into the more exciting realms of student-centric, task-based methodologies?! Nice try. This utopian dream will NOT be allowed to happen by the people that currently control the education system, as there is too much invested in the present system of rote learning and regurgitation that "never did us any harm". Isn't Higher Education supposed to be about teaching students to think? They have already proved they can gobble down and then throw up facts onto a page in their "A" levels in order to get here - why make them do it all over again at undergraduate level? - damian.mcdonald damian.mcdonald Oct 14, 2013
  • As is the case every year, I struggle with where this goes--but place-based mobile augmented reality games are finally emerging (see the earlier entry). The implication here (and what isn't clear from the above description) is that this type of use promotes learning by discovery. This self-directed approach gives students the tools they need to look at their surroundings differently through layers of both technology and narrative, while presenting them authentic, real-time contexts for learning. Asthe ARIS team recently pointed out, this type of interaction is also "embodied" (in the Merleau Ponty sense). Also see Paul Dourish (http://www.dourish.com/embodied/). Embodied learning enables people to make meaning of the spaces around them through an experience that involves the individual-as-learner, not just as a passive recipients of learning. - jasonr jasonr Oct 15, 2013

(3) What do you see as the potential impact of this technology on higher education?

  • Access to education any time, any place, any where by anyone? It is the MOOC philosophy writ large. Who can argue with the beautiful concept of freely available free education for the masses? Well, apart from the people who sell expensive education to the minorities. And pay our wages out of the money they charge. Hang on... - damian.mcdonald damian.mcdonald Oct 14, 2013
  • Place based mobile learning enables instructors to move immersive, technology-rich learning out of the classroom and provide rich context to explore a range of topics from science to literature, psychology and history. Moreover, it allows for use of mobiles that go beyond access, collaboration and research into self-directed, discovery-based learning experiences. - jasonr jasonr Oct 15, 2013

(4) Do you have or know of a project working in this area?

  • I've embedded these above - jasonr jasonr Oct 15, 2013
  • add your response here

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