Integrating Technical Advance in Mobile Devices to Enhance the Information Retrieval in Mobile Learning

Integrating Technical Advance in Mobile Devices to Enhance the Information Retrieval in Mobile Learning

Zhaozong Meng (School of Computing and Engineering, University of Huddersfield, Huddersfield, UK) and Joan Lu (School of Computing and Engineering, University of Huddersfield, Huddersfield, UK)
Copyright: © 2014 |Pages: 25
DOI: 10.4018/ijirr.2014010104


It has been a long time since the wireless technology is used for the interaction between teacher and learners in learning activities. The recent advance of the mobile technologies has created new chances improving the flexibility, efficiency, and functionality of the learning interaction systems. This investigation identifies the weakness of the existing systems, and integrates the emerging mobile technologies to establish an open interaction framework to effectively enhance the interaction using students faced mobile devices and public wireless infrastructure. The main work of this investigation contains: (1) a teacher-learner response model for mobile based interaction is proposed and is described with state machine logic; (2) a presentation-content retrieval mechanism is designed to efficiently utilize the limited resource; (3) the device independent and context-aware techniques are integrated to created cross-platform application with mobile device features; (4) an open media framework is created for flexible learning material distribution and question organization. A lightweight mobile oriented web-based wireless response system (mobile-WRS) is implemented as a case study. In-house testing and classroom application of the mobile-WRS in universities demonstrate that the proposed system outperforms the peer works in usability, interface, operational efficiency, learning material distribution, results presentation and performance assessment, etc.
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1. Introduction

The past decades have witnessed a fast evolvement of utilizing latest Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) in promoting the flexibility, adaptability, and mobility of interactive learning systems (ILS) (Sabry & AlShawi, 2008). The wireless and mobile technologies are employed due to their spatial and temporal flexibility and their potential in increasing interest and encouraging engagement (Hwang et al., 2011; Álvaro et al., 2013). In the early years, the Infrared based devices and mobile phones or PDAs using short message system (SMS) and Wireless Application Protocol (WAP) were employed in learning activities (Huang et al., 2008). The interface, speed and functionality of these systems are constrained by the device capability and limited bandwidth. Recently, the rapid progress of mobile technologies such as smartphone, wireless infrastructure, and mobile computing service converges to facilitate the interaction in learning activities (Sabry & Barker, 2009). The state of art smartphones such as iPhone and Android devices are utilized in learning systems in some research works (Lu et al., 2010; Pein et al., 2010). Some proprietary and open mobile development platforms such as iPhone SDK, Android SDK, and Qt SDK can create high performance device specific applications. And some web development technologies such as Ajax, jQuery, and jQTouch can provide the user with mobile oriented web applications. Besides, context-aware technology (Martin & Carro, 2009; Clough, 2010; Al-Homouz et al., 2012) and information adaptation technology (Zhang, 2007; Kao et al., 2009; Mahdavi et al., 2010) are used in mobile information retrieval and service provisioning for learning activities.

The remarkable technical advance creates chances to promote the interaction in interactive learning. In spite of the remarkable progress, the performance of mobile devices still fall behind desktops and laptops in computation capability, communication capability, and short battery life, etc. In addition, heterogeneity in device capability, mobile platform, and runtime environment results in difficulties in creating mobile applications that are interoperable on diverse mobile devices (Grace, 2004; Schmohl & Baumgarten, 2008). Therefore, it is a prospective and challenging topic to deploy the advanced technologies to overcome the limitations of mobile devices while maximizing their strengths.

It is the gap between applicable and functional constraints of the interaction systems and the remarkable advance in mobile technologies that has motivated this study. This investigation aims to integrate the emerging technical advances in mobile devices and mobile computing paradigm into the interactive learning system to conduct reasonable and effective interaction. A lightweight web-based system mobile WRS is designed and implemented as a case study focusing on the techniques and methods in terms of interoperability, efficient computation resource usage, open media learning content distribution, and efficient user interaction.

The rest of the paper is structured as follows: Section 2 introduces the background and related work, and section 3 states the aim and objectives of the investigation. Section 4 presents teacher-learner response model and character identification of the system, followed with the system design and implementation described in section 5. Then, section 6 gives the results, evaluation, use case, and discussion of the system. Finally, conclusion is drawn and future work is suggested in section 7.

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