mobile learning would one day provide learning that was truly independent of time and place and facilitated by portable computers capable of providing rich interactivity, total connectivity, and powerful processing.
Duke University made headlines when it provided all incoming freshmen with their own 20-gigabyte iPods. Similarly, the Virginia Tech College of Engineering became the first public institution to require all students to purchase a tablet PC beginning with incoming freshmen in fall 2006.
With the iPod, students can download podcasts of relevant instructional material along with audio and video lectures
students can exchange information files, collaborate on projects, review coursework and prepare for exams, showcase their work, and share project results. They (or the instructor) can provide visual, step-by-step directions that are difficult to convey with words only.
Students can use an MP3 player to download and listen to podcasts and audio lectures. They can also review course material and study for exams, stay informed about course content, read (listen to) audio books, and, with some devices, record information such as a lecture.
A PDA plays audio, video, and Flash movies; displays and permits editing of text documents; lets users access e-mail and Web content; supports IM and text messaging; and can be used for mass storage.
PDAs support interactive, collaborative learning. Students can use them to present projects; conduct research; word process documents (with a peripheral input device); and take notes in class.
A USB drive is great for storing coursework and audio and video files. Students can share files for collaborative projects, transfer work to and from computers at school, save their work, and submit work to the instructor.
Students can use an e-book reader to download and store text-based instructional materials and electronic textbooks; read resources on demand; and conduct research.
Students can download audio and video lectures and podcasts to their smart phones. They can play audio, video, and Flash movies; display and edit text documents; access e-mail and Web content; send IM and text messages; and use the phone for mass storage.
Students can download audio and video lectures and podcasts to their UMPCs; create and edit course-related assignments; surf the Web; send e-mails, IMs, and text-messages; and log on to course Web sites from a distance.
Students can download audio and video lectures and podcasts; create and edit course-related assignments; surf the Web; send e-mails, IMs, and text-messages; and log on to the course Web site at home or while on the road. The units provide a high level of interactivity for global collaboration, scientific experimentation, and research.
- Great for people on the go.
- Anytime, anywhere access to content.
- Can enhance interaction between and among students and instructors.
- Great for just-in-time training or review of content.
- Can enhance student-centered learning.
- Can appeal to tech-savvy students because of the media-rich environment.
- Support differentiation of student learning needs and personalized learning.7
- Reduce cultural and communication barriers between faculty and students by using communication channels that students like.8
- Facilitate collaboration through synchronous and asynchronous communication.
- May make it easier to cheat.
- Could give tech-savvy students an advantage over non-technical students.
- Can create a feeling of isolation or of being out-of-the-loop for non-techies.
- May require media to be reformatted or offered in multiple formats.
- Might render some content outdated because of rapid upgrades—here today, outdated tomorrow.
- Could require additional learning curve for non-technical students and faculty.
- May be used as a new high-tech package for the same old dull and boring content.
- Learning will center on the individual learner's environment rather than the classroom.
- Learning will involve learners making meaningful connections to resources and other people.
- The ability to instantly publish their observations and reflections as digital media will empower learners to become investigators of their own environments.
- The ability to easily capture and record life events will assist learners in recall and collaborative reflection.
- Distributed collaboration and mobile team opportunities will be greatly enhanced.
- What is the rationale for implementing mobile learning technologies?
- Will increased use of shorthand in synchronous and asynchronous communication affect students' writing ability in the long term?
- Will brevity of expression trump depth of knowledge?12
- Will it become easier for students to cheat during tests? Is this issue relevant to twenty-first-century learning?
- What course content is suitable for transmission to mobile computing/communication devices?
- Will the quality of communication and interaction be enhanced or diminished by adopting mobile learning pedagogy?
- Do mobile devices allow students to interact with peers and instructors at the same level and quality as if they were participating using a PC?
- Will a shift in emphasis from e-learning to mobile learning increase the gap between the haves and have-nots?
- Will the quality of the instructional content be improved, enhanced, or downgraded by transferring to a mobile-compatible format?
- What types of resistance to change will faculty and students experience?
- How will the instructor's role change?
94 percent (n = 100 students) indicated their readiness for mobile learning; all of them owned a cell phone or smart phone, and 92 percent (n = 98 students) owned a laptop computer. Similarly, a slight majority (60 percent, n = 18) of faculty also affirmed their readiness for mobile learning, with over 93 percent (n = 28) owning a cell phone or smart phone and 83 percent (n = 25) owning a laptop computer.
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