Mobile Learning: Technology as Mediator of Personal and School Experiences

Mobile Learning: Technology as Mediator of Personal and School Experiences

Matthew Duvall (Drexel University, Philadelphia, PA, USA), Anthony Matranga (Drexel University, Philadelphia, PA, USA), Aroutis Foster (Drexel University, Philadelphia, PA, USA) and Jason Silverman (Drexel University, Philadelphia, PA, USA)
Copyright: © 2016 |Pages: 13
DOI: 10.4018/IJGBL.2016010103
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Abstract

This study reports on the effects of a mobile game designed in conjunction with an art museum to develop children's understanding of line, shape, and color. Four researchers (two graduate students and two professors at a private university in the mid-Atlantic region of the United States) examined 8 children, ages 6 to 13, for conceptual change in their understanding of art. Grounded theory and thematic analysis were used to examine children's conceptions of line, shape, and color through gameplay and to answer the research question, “How does a mobile application impact students' conceptual understanding of line, shape and color?” The researchers found that the mobile learning experience was effectively mediating participants' school and personal experiences to support conceptual change.
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Background Literature

Technology and Mobile Learning

As Mishra et al. (2011) allude to, technological advances have provided unique opportunities and challenges for educators. Siemens and Tittenberger (2009) argued that technology allows individuals to control their learning. As such, it is a tool that can be used to create richer learning experiences in a variety of ways (for example, to access remote resources or exercise creativity). While technology is a tool without an inherent bias, the ways in which it is used must be examined and refined in order to accomplish desired learning goals (Siemens & Tittenberger, 2009).

Mobile applications are one specific example of technology that can be used for learning. These applications provide the opportunity for learners to access information across space and time, making the learning experience truly seamless and ubiquitous (Ozdamli & Cavus, 2011). Studies have demonstrated mobile learning's potential for creating positive changes in student attitude and achievement (Martin & Ertzberger, 2013). At the same time, researchers caution that mobile applications are not the elusive educational “magic bullet” and factors such as design and content must be considered in order to fully leverage these tools (Falloon, 2013).

In a review study, researchers identified four essential attributes of mobile learning: mobile learner and mobile coach (real or virtual), technologically enhanced learning process, situated learning environment, and virtual group awareness/strategies (Jeng, Wu, Huang, & Yang, 2010). Kearney, Schuck, Burden, and Aubusson (2012) created a pedagogical framework for mobile learning based on the intersection of authenticity (contextualized environments), customization (personalized and autonomous learning), and social interactivity (connected learning), all within the consideration of a time-space continuum that is more flexible and seamless than traditional teaching/learning approaches.

In regards to art, one study evaluated 16 iOS mobile applications designed for learning about art (Katz-Buonincontro & Foster, 2013). The applications were scored across six categories: psychological learning principles, pedagogical voice, physiological features, social-cultural dimensions, aesthetic understanding, and creative self-efficacy. The applications did not rate highly on any of the dimensions, but were particularly lacking in creative self-efficacy.

Overall, the literature on mobile learning points to it as an advantage over more traditional learning approaches, particularly in settings where there is not an official teacher or when the learning experience needs to be individualized to accommodate the location, interest, or time available to the learner. At the same time, many mobile applications, and particularly those designed for learning about art, are lacking key components that would allow for engaging and seamless learning experiences. In this study, we sought to make sense of how a game created for mobile technologies can support learners in developing more refined understandings of line, shape and color.

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