What is Mobile Learning?

For several years now, a revolution has been taking place in software development that parallels similar shifts in the music, publishing, and retail industries. Mass market is giving way to niche market, and with it, the era of highly priced large suites of integrated software has shifted to a new view of what software should be. Mobile operating systems such as Android and iOS have redefined mobile computing, and in the past three to four years, the small, low-cost software extensions to these devices — apps — have become a hotbed of development. Simple but useful apps have found their way into almost every form of human endeavor, and a popular app can see millions of downloads in a very short time. The huge market for apps has spawned a flood of creativity that is instantly apparent in the extensive collections available in the app stores. Online app marketplaces provide an easy and highly efficient way to deliver software that reduces distribution and marketing costs significantly. Mobile apps continue to gain traction in education because they are particularly useful for learning as they enable people to learn and experience new concepts wherever they are, often across multiple devices.

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

  • 'Mobile First' is a phrase that keeps popping up, capturing the idea that in design and outreach, getting to the mobile device is not an after-thought or a final step, but is instead the primary objective of communications and interactions. - david.c.gibson david.c.gibson Sep 27, 2015.
  • See my comments to BYOD. - ole ole Sep 29, 2015 ditto - please see my comments to BYOD. - brad.hinson brad.hinson Oct 9, 2015
  • This field still has lots of room to grow in education. I believe it is hard for educators to get out of their box to really understand how educational apps can be designed to leverage the affordances of mobile technologies. How should instructional design of learning look and how should learning feel for students on mobile devices? How do we get to this point? Are educators even ready for this? - shaffeje shaffeje Oct 6, 2015
  • Mobile learning is impacting students where they are. It is an exploding space in terms of popularity and potential. - deborah.cooke deborah.cooke Oct 12, 2015
  • Mobile technology is a native personal extension for most students’ activities. The obvious usages include searching for and accessing information, communication, collaboration, and self expression. This holds true within the traditional demographics, as well as non-traditional students. As such, the use of mobile, and more to the point smart phones, should be factored in as an asset and key component for educators to leverage. Through the use of this technology, we can extend the learning environment beyond the walls of the F2F classroom and enable activities and instruction in a variety of situations and locations. Additionally, as this is medium functions typically through converged devices that likely include fundamental data collection capabilities (images, video, sound, text) and provide natural communication channels (either through text or voice), group collaboration is easy to facilitate. The potential for mobile learning is not nearly realized to date, but as educators look at ways to embrace rather than limit the use of the technology, its potential for enabling student engagement and producing beneficial learning outcomes will become more evident. This only relates to the potential of the devices themselves and doesn’t even start to consider the host of applications available. - Dougdar Dougdar Oct 19, 2015
  • It is not the devices that are mobile, but the students. Just because they CAN access learning materials anytime wherever they are, does not necessarily mean they SHOULD access them. It can be all too easy to passively watch a video or read an online document whilst on the bus, in a bar, or wherever, and believe that you are actually learning something. Has HE simply become a box ticking exercise? Watch this, read that, write assignment, move on. Repeat until graduation. What about thinking about and then discussing ideas with your peers and your tutors? You can't do that on the 8:15 to Paddington. Mobile learning is only part of the picture, and must be integrated with a variety of other delivery methods in order to maximise the educational potential of the course materials. (- damian.mcdonald damian.mcdonald Oct 20, 2015)
  • Mobile learning can be integrated in both formal and informal education. Studies have shown (http://conta.uom.gr/conta/filter_pub.php?filter=34&lang=en ) that mobile learning can engage and motivate students as well as it can effectively support science inquiry activities in authentic environments. Therefore, mobile learning has the potential to make STEM education (as well most other fileds) more relevant to students’ lives, attractive, challenging, playful and inspiring. - Anastasios.A.ECONOMIDES Anastasios.A.ECONOMIDES Oct 23, 2015

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

  • WIll higher education have 'mobile app development pipelines?' Or will they wait for the private sector to do this? - david.c.gibson david.c.gibson Sep 27, 2015 - ole ole Sep 29, 2015 - helga helga Oct 6, 2015 - shaffeje shaffeje Oct 6, 2015
  • Are educators ready for this and willing to think differently in order to design learning experiences for mobile devices (beyond accessing an LMS, watching a video, submitting an assignment, etc.) - shaffeje shaffeje Oct 6, 2015 - brad.hinson brad.hinson Oct 9, 2015
  • I like the idea of leveraging "Mobile First" as a pedagogical guide. It is generally a web development term and strategy that guides modern web standards - and innovations. In the same way, "Mobile First" could/should guide how we engage with teaching and learning. Not a focus on devices and apps, but a broad focus on meeting students where they are. And they are everywhere. - brad.hinson brad.hinson Oct 9, 2015
  • Yes, "Mobile First." We need to shift out of 'previous century thinking' believing exams are the focus. - michael.lambert michael.lambert Oct 16, 2015
  • Getting to Mobile First requires an institutional commitment to resourcing responsive design, on both informational web pages, in the LMS and on other sites which students access. But many higher ed orgs seem to have limited capacity with just keeping up with an informational web, let alone doing navigational redesign which would get to full responsive design - finding funding envelopes for really getting to digital mobile environments remains a challenge - vforssman vforssman Oct 18, 2015
  • The differentiation of mobile, convergent devices as a focus of impact verses the utilization of mobile devices as a platform for new applications and peripherals. There are two distinct and evolving technology aspects here. One can be in terms of the point I made in question 1 above where the focus is on the impact of the convergence mobile device on instruction and the learning environment. A whole other aspect relates to what instructional capabilities it is enabling as a platform through specialize applications. One example might be an AR apps related to history or architecture allowing students to interface with the surround and displaying unique data relevant to a given location based on GPS and visual queues. Another could be for medical training where a peripheral plugs into the device and gathers specific biometric data during examinations. The potential is broad and ranges from the super simplistic to the complex. The possibilities continue to expand however as the capabilities of the OS’s interactions and accessibility with the device’s range of sensors and functions increases. Thus, these should be addressed separately. - Dougdar Dougdar Oct 19, 2015
  • The technology to support mobile learning is here. However, the psychological and socio-cultural factors regarding the adoption of mobile learning and assessment from both teachers and students need to be investigated (http://conta.uom.gr/conta/filter_pub.php?filter=34&lang=en ). Other prerequisities include, the appropriate pedagogies to implement a mobile learning approach, the adequate teacher professional development (teacher competencies) and in most cases, a coherent policy implementation strategy and a clear a vision towards educational innovations. - Anastasios.A.ECONOMIDES Anastasios.A.ECONOMIDES Oct 23, 2015
  • Parallel/Multiple Screens
    - rubenrp rubenrp Oct 26, 2015 This would qualify, I think, as a Digital Strategy: as more people use more devices, they tend not to simply replicate what one device does with another device (the "my laptop is my portable desktop" strategy of yesteryear), but rather construct complex complementary approaches for using all devices simultaneously. You can see it as you walk by desks where a laptop, smartphone, and tablet are all side-by-side and being used simultaneously - but for different tasks, in ways that multiple windows or monitors on a single device would not accommodate easily. And now you can add the Apple Watch to the mix... [Editor's Note: Added here from RQ2.]

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

  • I think 'mobile first' is a mental model shift that has implications for many aspects of the higher education digital experience by students. Anytime, anyplace is not just about desktops anymore. Can I, while riding on a bus in Hong Kong, do a bit of my assignment for a unit in Australia, with teammates from Canada? Will I be able to attend class from the cafe while sipping a coffee? A university that invtes this and does it well will stand out. - david.c.gibson david.c.gibson Sep 27, 2015 - ole ole Sep 29, 2015 - helga helga Oct 6, 2015 - brad.hinson brad.hinson Oct 9, 2015
  • David, love your thinking...and yes! Though we have online, hybrid and blended learning models in place, I believe we have not found the 'best teaching practices' to help these models to 'stand out.' As instructors/facilitators, we need to change our instructional model and redesign instruction to fit the new "mobile learner." (Just an opinion.) - michael.lambert michael.lambert Sep 29, 2015. A good opinion, indeed. We're to some extent back to the question on teaching in accordance with the learners' future and not put past - sorry for repeating myself. - ole ole Oct 5, 2015 - shaffeje shaffeje Oct 6, 2015 agreed! - brad.hinson brad.hinson Oct 9, 2015
  • Mobile opens a lot of possibilities for instructional design: place-based learning and the creation of subject matter apps that compliment the actual course. - deborah.cooke deborah.cooke Oct 12, 2015
  • As mentioned, the impact for higher education can be seen on multiple fronts. The use of mobile technology can offer new instructional paradigms for educators and be a natural catalyst for encouraging new learning dynamics between the instructor and learner. This adds options, rather than supplanting. It also can easily facilitate broader learning opportunities by extending the environment and classroom beyond current F2F models. Groups are able to stay connected while physically separated within different experiential situations and activities, with the instructor able to send and receive feedback real-time. Also, as this is a native, life-style technology, mobile can be a solid options for facilitating collaboration, particularly within non-traditional learning environments. Students will have the technology, and are familiar the the basic common methods of using it. As they have access to information and the technology to interact with it and others, incorporating this strength into our instructional design will free instructors to serve and subject matter experts generating and guiding valuable discourse and investigation of subject matter, and will allow them to create new experiences for learning that will be more motivating and engaging for students. - Dougdar Dougdar Oct 19, 2015
  • Mobile learning could enable adaptive and personalized educational content delivery as well as more effective and efficient ways of formative, authentic, experiential, on-the-field and workplace assessment strategies. Also, allowing students to access course material through mobile devices can facilitate MOOCs widespread further adoption in higher education and in lifelong learning. - Anastasios.A.ECONOMIDES Anastasios.A.ECONOMIDES Oct 23, 2015

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

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