A few months ago, I had an immature view of what mobile learning was. My view was that mobile learning was dependent on mobile technologies: “mobile learning is utilizing the affordances of portable technology (e.g. smartphone, health & fitness tracking devices, tablets) to support any type of learning, informal or formal, when on the go.” Over the course of a semester, I developed a more mature view of what I consider mobile learning. My definition mirrors what Sharples et al. (2009) describe—”mobile learning is the study of how the mobility of learners augmented by personal and public technology can contribute to the process of gaining new knowledge, skills and experience” (p. 235). In this new definition, I conclude that mobile learning is learning anywhere and anytime the learner becomes curious. It can be augmented by persona and public technologies, but it does not solely rely on “utilizing the affordances of mobile technology” as aforementioned.
Moving forward with mobile learning, we must be intentional of how and what we design. Mobile learning is not simply providing recorded instructor lectures to learners via a mobile device. As educators and instructional designers, we need to be careful that we are not “reinforc[ing] the negative effects of passive nonparticipatory learning” (Wang, 2009, p. 673). One takeaway from Wang et al. (2009) is to design interactive and engaging content that allows learners to be participants in their learning, and not passive consumers. Wang et al. reference studies from Wang & Kang that show “having an emotional connection is the first step in building a learning community” (p. 685). Designing to elicit that emotional connection in our learners is vital to building an engaging learning community.
Another intriguing concept is from the Brown, Heggs, and Millican (2013) technology article on using iPads for clinical supervision. Although iPad research is limited, I expect it to grow as iPads are quickly becoming an educational supertool. Brown et al. (2013) references McCready in talking about the Millennial generation. “Millennials developed a “sixth sense” for technology; so, utilizing the new generations’ prowess for technology seems like the next step in clinical instruction” (p. 10). Although this is in the context of clinical instruction, I believe this is seamlessly applied to other learning contexts. Through the clinical supervision iPad integration article, Brown et al. discovered that “by using the iPad as part of the curriculum, the program encourages students to learn in multiple modes and to incorporate technology into their own practice as clinicians-in-training” (p. 5). By introducing and supplying iPads to the students as freshmen, they had access to them throughout their entire graduate education. In doing so, these students have learned how to learn with technology and have even gained negotiating and analytical skills as well. If the students found an app that they thought would benefit their patients, they had to fill out and submit an “iPad App Request Form” justifying how it would benefit their patient and include “evidence-based rationale” (p. 6).
With mobile learning and technology infused so deeply in today’s society, we must keep in mind the pitfalls. Pierce (2009) looks at the relationship between social anxiety and technology and suggests that “teens are using socially interactive technology (SIT) to communicate with others and it appears that social anxiety is influencing this use or at least may be serving as a substitute for face-to-face communication” (p. 1369). Similar to Wang et al. (2009) design intention above, I want to reinforce the decision to create more interactive learning opportunities and less non-interactive ones. “Those who use the Internet primarily for non-interactive purposes also tend to have fewer in-person social ties (Zhao, 2006). In contrast, those who frequent interactive sites tend to maintain strong interpersonal (in-person) connections (Zhao, 2006)” (Pierce, 2009, p. 1368). Through engaging learning and interactions, learners develop 21st century skills in relation to networking and building connections.
Brown, K., Heggs, A., & Millican, K. (2013). Technology: Project Using iPads for Clinical Supervision. Perspectives on Administration and Supervisions, 23(1), 4-11.
Pierce, T. (2009). Social anxiety and technology: Face-to-face communication versus technological communication among teens. Computers in Human Behavior, 25(6), 1367-1372.
Sharples, M., Arnedillo-Sánchez, I., Milrad, M., Vavoula, G., Balacheff, N., Ludvigsen, S.,…Barnes, S. (2009). Mobile Learning: Small Devices, Big Issues. In Technology-Enhanced Learning: Principles and Products (pp. 233-249). Springer.
Wang, M., Shen, R., Novak, D., & Pan, X. (2009). The impact of mobile learning on students’ learning behaviours and performance: Report from a large blended classroom. British Journal of Educational Technology, 40(4), 673-695.