Tag Archives: personalized learning

Pedagogy for Mobile Learning

Pedagogical Framework for Mobile Learning

by Mark Sivy

mobile learningIn searching for research-based information on developing mobile learning that coincided with my existing mobile learning beliefs and practices, I came across a very good article that has been done by Yeonjeong Park (2011) at Virginia Tech. She presents a framework that places existing mobile learning studies into four categories, which I’d like to share with you:

Type 1

High transactional distance and socialized mobile learning activity

  • Compared to a traditional setting, learners have a large communication and psychological separation (transactional distance) from the instructor
  • Learners work, communicate and collaborate between themselves
  • Content and activity guidance is received through mobile channels
  • Most learning activity occurs between learners

Smartphone learningType 2

High transactional distance and individualized mobile learning activity

  • Same separation from the instructor as Type 1
  • Individual learners are given concise structure and content
  • Individual learners control their learning process
  • Interactions are primarily between the individual learner and the content

Type 3

Low transactional distance and socialized mobile learning activity

  • Less transactional distance than the previous two types
  • Loosely defined content and structure
  • Learners solve problems with each other in groups
  • Interaction is more focused on social learning and communication

Type 4

Low transactional distance and individualized mobile learning activity

  • Less transactional distance
  • Loosely defined content and structure
  • Individual learners interact directly with instructor
  • Instructor leads and controls learning

A critical takeaway from this very useful information is the concept of transactional distance and its implications. Even though this is commonly associated with online and mobile learning, it also exists within the physical learning space of a classroom, lecture hall or laboratory.

Mobile Learning 1Given the four types of mobile learning that Ms. Park presented, these should each be used as needed depending upon the content and expected learning outcomes. For instance, during the term of a single course that is offered as mobile learning, each type may be used at different times. Mobile learning is much more complex and strategic than simply making course content and instructions available on a smartphone.

“Email, instant messaging, and cell phones give us fabulous communication ability, but because we live and work in our own little worlds, that communication is totally disorganized.”          ~ Marylyn vos Savant

Park, Y. (2011). A pedagogical framework for mobile learning: Categorizing educational applications of mobile technologies into four types. The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 12(2), 78-102.



Mobile Learning Benefits and Challenges

Mobile Learning – Here Are Some Benefits and Challenges to Consider

by Mark Sivy

Mobile learning is not intended or expected to be THE answer to current issues surrounding education. It must also be remembered that mobile learning is a subset of e-Learning and it is synonymous online learning (see my previous post titled Introducing Mobile Learning). Beyond a formal definition of mobile learning, think of it essentially as on-demand, in-the-moment learning through social and information connections made using mobile digital devices such as smartphones and tablets. It is NOT simply online learning on a mobile device. An example would be a gardener-intern using a smartphone to identify an unknown plant parasite and find the most current information about natural means of pest control. From my perspective, mobile learning allows us to address memory lapses, fill knowledge gaps, or support a more formal learning which is or had occurred in a traditional or online learning scenario.





Some benefits of mobile learning are that it can:

  • Occur on readily available, easy-to-carry portable devices.
  • Fit into personal needs more easily and quickly than traditional or online learning.
  • Be self-directed and self-paced, thus allowing learners the opportunity to speed up, slow down, and review content at an individual pace or as needed.
  • Improve self-esteem and self-efficacy.
  • Decrease training costs.
  • Empower the learner to take more responsibility for their learning.
  • Accommodate personal preferences.
  • Can be learner-centered by diversifying learning activities.
  • Allow learners to overcome geographic barriers.
  • Compensate for personal restrictions, challenges, or limitations.
  • Facilitate immediate learner collaboration and communication.
  • Be used to create peer community and support which enhance learning.
  • Allow for broader learning opportunities and course options at a lower cost to the learner.
  • Enable global awareness, community, networking and resources.
  • Provide tools which allow for tracking, analyzing, reporting, and improving instruction and learning.

On the other side, some challenges of mobile learning are:

  • There is a problem developing learning content and programs across multiple operating systems, screen sizes, and device capabilities
  • Learners who procrastinate or are poorly self-motivated be disadvantaged and less likely to succeed.
  • Non-verbal communication such as body language, facial expressions, and eye contact will typically be missing.
  • Addressing policies, procedures, compliance requirements, technology application updates, and business updates.
  • Barriers can exist initially for learners due to the need for new skills which are associated with using technologies and new ways of learning.
  • It is more difficult to interact or communicate with individuals who tend to be unresponsive.
  • Learners may miss face-to-face social contact and interaction, can feel isolated, or may need in-person instructor-learner interaction.
  • Subject matter experts or instructors may not always be available on demand.
  • Slow or unreliable network or wireless connections can present issues and frustration.
  • It often requires a difficult change in attitudes and beliefs by leaders, learners, instructors, and instructional designers.
  • There is a reduction in opportunities to develop oral communication skills and other social dynamics.

Reflection Point – “Instructional designers need to run, not walk, away from classroom-thinking and get to the point of providing short, quick business focused learning points that are easily accessible when and where our learners need them. This means leveraging new technologies to deliver non-traditional instruction.” ~ Karl Kapp



Introducing Mobile Learning

Introducing Mobile Learning

by Mark Sivy

mobile learningAn agreed upon definition for mobile learning is as elusive as those for many other contemporary terms such as e-learning, virtual learning, and web-based learning. For purposes of orientation to mobile learning, I decided to build upon the 2008 Association for Educational Communications and Technology (AECT) description of educational technology. So mobile learning can be comprehensively explained as:

“The study and ethical practice of facilitating learning and improving performance through various contexts and interactions by creating, using, and managing appropriate technological and educational processes and resources.”

From this rudimentary definition, one can see that mobile learning incorporates complex relationships between multiple factors. Some keywords in this definition are:

  • Study – having knowledge of learning theory and research that are associated with the use of educational technologies.
  • Various Contexts and Interactions – these can provide abundant learning opportunities, but also present many of the unknowns, barriers and issues that can arise.
  • Ethical Practice – increasing the likelihood of attaining intended learning outcomes by being responsible, maintaining a respect for of learner abilities and progress, applying appropriate methodologies, and using principled intentionality when innovating.
  • Appropriate Technological and Educational Processes and Resources – even with a valid need guiding the selection of technology and instructional methodology, the combined implementation can sometimes result in instructional complications and learning issues if the overall strategies are not well-planned.

mobile learningMobile learning is playing an increasingly important role in the learning process by providing the means for convenient learning using a broad range of mobile devices (e.g. laptops, tablets, and smartphones) at a time and location of the learner’s choice. Mobile learning can provide personalized learning advantages to younger learners and can facilitate many aspects of the flipped classroom. When offering learning opportunities for adults, mobile learning provides such advantages as access to on-demand content, self-directed learning, and the individualized incorporation of new knowledge with existing experience.

mobile learning21st Century Learning ideals are facilitated by mobile learning. The Partnership for 21st Century Skills has been at the forefront of providing a basis for the remodeling and modernization of instruction, learning and curriculum. Regardless of whether learners are K-12, higher education, or adults, the Partnership’s renowned publication, P21 Framework Definitions document, provides a list of skills that mobile learning can leverage and enhance. These include innovation, collaboration, creativity, critical thinking, problem-solving, digital literacy, working in diverse teams, productivity, leadership and managing one’s own learning.

Instructional needs, the ability to facilitate intended learning, and learner access to mobile devices should guide the implementation of mobile learning strategies. Properly trained IT staff are needed for the installation, maintenance, and administration of back-end systems. Talent development is necessary to prepare instructors to produce learning through positive and engaging experiences. Finally, mobile learners need understandable guidelines and readily available support.

Reflection Point: I absolutely think we need to give people access to material where and when they need it. It’s imperative to have a mobile learning strategy and that’s even more important with emerging generations. But I’ll add that when I talk to my peers who are in global companies, nobody has one. ~Karl-Heinz Oehler



Association for Educational Communications and Technology (2008). Definition. In A. Januszewski and M. Molenda (Eds.), Educational Technology: A definition with commentary. New York: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.