Learning Design: Mobile Learning

MOBILE: not fixed to a particular geographic location, on the move.

LEARNING: acquiring knowledge and skills.

Prior to the lecture this week we were told to bring in our smart phones as we were going to use them during class time. This was such a novelty for us as we are usually given a warning against the use of our phones in class or given “the look” if we are seen just checking the time on our phones. Firstly, we were asked to use the internet on our phones to look up the answers to a range of questions such as the time in Paris or the definition of ‘Nomophobia’ (and in case you were wondering, it means the fear of being out of contact or not having reception on your mobile phone).

We then watched a video regarding the change of education at schools and the way that 21st century learning has transformed from learning what to learning how. Technology is used 24 hours, 7 days a week and is going to improve society and the way that we learn, schools included. Looking at a traditional image of a classroom, we were able to identify that the only technology used were books and a chalkboard compared to today’s classrooms. Students now do not know life without the internet and computing is ubiquitous. We were asked how educational technology has evolved up until the advent of mobile devices. Everything was larger and there were separation devices used for separate functions. Now, there are phones that you can access the internet from, listen to music from, take photos and videos with and can play a multitude of games on. Our current technology, especially on mobile phones, allows for fast access and provides all sorts of information at our fingertips.

During the lecture we found out that there are 8 pedagogical perspectives on mobile learning:

1. Problem based learning– learning takes place when students work on a problematic situation which is open-ended and goal oriented.
2. Context awareness learning- “virtual” visits to museums and galleries
3. Social-cultural theory- learning takes place within the cultural context of each system
4. Collaborative learning- group work, discovery of new things, learning from other people’s ideas
5. Conversational- interaction and communication between peers and other environments
6. Situated learning- learning that takes place based on real life situations
7. Constructive perspective- students constructing their own understanding through active involvement in the engagement rather than rote learning
8. Activity learning- experiential education through practical work

Source: Boris Handal’s Week 5 Lecture as referenced from NESTA Futurelab series Report 11: Literature review in mobile technologies and learning. Taylor, J. Pedagogy in the mobile learning environment. The Open University.

Simply put, mobile phones are like a reliable, knowledgeable friend. They are good to have around for those long train rides to university or boring visit to Great Aunt Joan’s house. They make you feel comfortable, like someone is with you, to fill you in on the latest news, status updates on Facebook or entertain you with a short game of Tetris. I have been a mobile learner in a variety of situations.

Depending on what information I need, I can be a mobile learner during a lecture if I need a definition of a term I have forgotten or when I am out with friends and we can’t remember an actor’s name from a movie.
What appeals to me most about the role of mobile learning in the classroom is that students are able to feel as though their mobile phones can assist in their learning as well as being a social medium. They can be used in class for assignment research, a stop watch for P.E, a calculator for Maths and the list is endless. Also, there are a variety of applications or “apps” that can be used on a mobile phone, specifically an iPhone, that would further the mobile learning experience. For example, iHomework organises homework and assignments for each subject, Wild Lab assists learners with identifying different species of birds and their habitats, and The Chemical Touch includes information about masses, melting and boiling points as well as a simplified version of the periodic table. There’s an app for pretty much everything…


So, what do parents and teachers think of mobile learning?
According to the Speak Up data (2009), the following responses are from parents and their ideas about mobile learning.

This table shows responses from teachers about their concerns regarding the use of mobile learning in a classroom environment.

I believe that there will always be conflicting views about mobile learning in classrooms like there was about using the internet when I was in high school. I remember teachers would always warn us about visiting inappropriate websites but we would always find a way to access these websites that were always blocked. Obviously, this would distract us from doing our work and then we’d be behind at the end of the lesson. This is probably why some teachers may be against mobile learning. However, it will slowly make its way into high school or even upper primary classrooms (lower primary may cause problems). If used effectively, mobile learning has strong benefits on the teaching and learning process in the classroom. Could this be the future of our classrooms?

Garg, A. (2010) mLearning Demand is Growing.[Image] Retrieved March 29, 2011 from

Handal, B. (2011) Information Technology for Teaching and Learning [Lecture Slides] Retrieved March 29, 2011 from

Mobl21 (2010) Mobile Learning Blog September. [Image]. Retrieved March 29, 2011, from

SesameStreet. (2010) Sesame Street Song: There’s an App for That. [Video file] Retrieved March 30, 2011 from

Speak Up. (2010) National Findings of Students and Parents. [Image] Retrieved March 29, 2011, from


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