What is Mobile Learning?

We are in the midst of a complete shift in the devices we use. As smartphones and tablets become more and more capable and user interfaces more and more natural, old methods of computing seem place-bound and much less intuitive. People increasingly expect to be connected to the Internet and the rich tapestry of knowledge it contains wherever they go, and the majority of them use a mobile device to do so. According to the 2013 “ICT Facts and Figures” report from the ITU Telecommunication Development Bureau, the mobile market consists of over 6.8 billion subscribers, with a majority living in developing countries. The unprecedented evolution of these devices and the apps that run on them has opened the door to myriad uses for education. Learning institutions all over the world are adopting apps into their curricula and modifying websites, educational materials, resources, and tools so they are optimized for mobile devices. The significance for teaching and learning is that these devices have the potential to facilitate almost any educational experience, allowing learners organize virtual video meetings with peers all over the world, use specialized software and tools, and collaborate on shared documents or projects in the cloud, among many other things. Although there are still likely many uses that have not been realized yet, over the past several years mobile learning has moved quickly from concept to reality.

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

  • After about 10 years, we have now reached a place where mobile computing is replacing fixed computing in at least half of the examples I see - jnxyz jnxyz Feb 13, 2014
  • Finally education becomes the 'on demand' and 'access at any time' experience that young users expect and have become accustomed to in their everyday lives. - jason.maddern jason.maddern Feb 18, 2014
  • The concept of mobile learning is ideal for the world we live in, and how many students learn. The blend of formal and informal learning lends itself well to mobile learning opportunities. However, it doesn't seem as if practice has caught up with where the students are.- Holly.Lu Holly.Lu Feb 19, 2014
  • There is great potential for this in art and design education - it is only being leveraged in some areas however - inger.mewburn inger.mewburn Feb 19, 2014
  • Learning becomes own place, own time and own pace - works around the schedules of the learner. Can be used as complementary to course work, or coursework can be deployed through it.- joanne.woodrow joanne.woodrow Feb 20, 2014
  • Mobility - enabled by BYOD, offers so many opportunities for authentic learning experiences and again because 'teaching and learning' has been fixed to time and place (and our systems such as timetables keep on reinforcing this), there are still constraints and the full potential of mobility has not been realised.- margaret.hicks margaret.hicks Feb 20, 2014
  • 'Learning' and 'life' can be more easily connected if students can access learning resources where and when they need them in application, and likewise the experiences students have in in the 'real world' can be more easily connected back to the learning environment. - andrea.mclagan andrea.mclagan Feb 21, 2014
  • 'Produsage' - the power of these devices to blend consumption and production, and engage learners with the content creation and sharing power of these tools. Mobility means this can increasingly take place in the 'real world' beyond formal classroom settings and integrated into lives of learners, e.g. recording audio/visual content, microblogging (tweeting), geolocation data. - David.Cameron David.Cameron Feb 22, 2014

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

  • The next phase of mLearning where the smart device becomes a hub for wearables, and where wearables also graduate to being smart devices themselves - jnxyz jnxyz Feb 13, 2014
  • The demand for teachers to re-think they way they create content and reach students, along with the complications of BYOD varying platforms/apps and resources (refer to BYOD discussion). - jason.maddern jason.maddern Feb 18, 2014
  • There is still a long way to go for mobile learning experiences to go mainstream in k-12. In primary school these days, many of the mobile learning uses are a bit more on the novelty side or an activity that requires an outside component.- Holly.Lu Holly.Lu Feb 19, 2014
  • I think the investment of time in making mobile learning activities and resources is the main problem with more widescale adaptation. Many teachers in the area of art and design at the tertiary level do not have the right kind of training to make these kinds of resources for themselves. I think we overlook some of the logisitcal problems as well - we can't assume that all students own appropriate devices even now, and working across platform (Android / apple / windows) can be problemmatic too - inger.mewburn inger.mewburn Feb 19, 2014 I agree Inger - I've spent 4 years designing educational apps and it is very time consuming even with amazing programmers and graphic designers in the team- it is very different to designing for web - but we are making inroads! - joanne.woodrow joanne.woodrow Feb 20, 2014
  • Risk of having to comply with closed and tightly controlled technology ecosystems (e.g. Apple iTunes) rather than freely developed and shared apps.

(3) What do you see as the potential impact of this technology on teaching, learning, or creative inquiry?

  • The biggest impact may be the way mLearning forces changes in pedagogy and creates a more empowered learner - jnxyz jnxyz Feb 13, 2014
  • Agree with above - empowering users to control their own learning environment, and integration of personal device technology within learning - jason.maddern jason.maddern Feb 18, 2014
  • Mobile learning offers the flexibility to learn, grow and explore a world that typically would require four walls and a teacher- Holly.Lu Holly.Lu Feb 19, 2014
  • Mobile technology has the potential to create authentic professional experiences in coursework settings - inger.mewburn inger.mewburn Feb 19, 2014
  • It's comparable to having a learning assistant with you at all times. Also, when was the last time you printed?- joanne.woodrow joanne.woodrow Feb 20, 2014
  • Mobile learning can you really faciliate student centred learning, something that is espoused but not always practiced in reality- margaret.hicks margaret.hicks Feb 20, 2014
  • In a practical sense, more attention will need to paid to designing mobile-friendly learning management systems, learning materials and resources, and to a range of learning activities e.g. including more 'casual' tasks that can be completed with one thumb on a phone while standing on the bus :) - David.Cameron David.Cameron Feb 22, 2014
  • I agree with David, and Inger and Joanne above. Designing learning experiences for the mobile environment (which is necessary) is incredibly complex. In order to do this well, two things need to change.1. It cannot be just for one module, or one class. It needs to be a much larger undertaking in order to make it worth the effort. 2. the team we put together to design and develop learning experiences, needs to be a) larger than just the lecturer or teacher and b) have a diverse skill set. This would require changing the set up in most educational institutions where the educator is the "lead designer, developer and delivery vehicle" and people from IT, edtech and library are support and pulled in at an as-need basis. Educational institutions could consider development teams, preferably at a program level, with for example a project manager, a few SME's (not necessarily one per subject) and learning designers and information specialists. - j.seitzinger j.seitzinger Feb 23, 2014

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

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