A concern with E-Learning environments is whether students achieve superior or equivalent learning outcomes to those obtained through traditional methods. In this chapter the authors present the results of a research study comparing students’ learning outcomes with four different delivery methods - printed study material, lecture format, computers and “smart” mobile phones. The results of our study show that learning outcomes are similar when students study by using a computer, mobile phone, or lecture format, while studying with print material yields slightly superior test results. These findings are discussed in the context of the type of learning used in the study and the factors that impact on the effectiveness of using mobile phones for learning purposes, such as learning styles and attitudes to computers. The authors conclude the chapter by briefly discussing developments in mobile technologies and the opportunities they present for mobile learning.
Most students have a mobile phone or access to one. It was estimated in 2003, that there were over 300 million world-wide users of mobile phones (Leung & Chan 2003). However, a report from the International Telecommunications Union in 2008 estimated there are 3.3 billion users (ITU, 2009). Many also have iPods and mp3Players; ready access to which makes these devices ideal as a mobile learning tool (Stockwell, 2007). In 2006 the Technology Advancement Centre at East Carolina University conducted a survey to assess the mobile needs of distance education and campus learners. Of the 4,000 students who responded to the survey 94% owned cell (mobile) phones and the preferred communication device carried by campus students was a mobile phone (DuVall, Powell & Lucier, 2006). There are several advantages to using a mobile learning device. First, mobile devices are more portable because of their small size and when combined with access to wireless networks, educational activities can occur in locations beyond the classroom, embedding the learning situation within a real-life context that can enhance the relevance of the learning situation for students (Chen, Kao, & Sheu, 2003; Liu, Tao & Nee, 2007; Motiwalla, 2005). Mobile learning can also promote immediacy of learning by allowing learning to operate in real time (any time), so that students can access information as urgently as required (Fallahkhair, Pemberton, & Griffiths, 2007; Triantafillou, Georgiadou, & Econimides, 2006). With a mobile learning device, students no longer need to record a question and later refer to a textbook or wait for an opportunity to access information online (Chen et al., 2003; Leung & Chan, 2003; Liu et al., 2003).