Structure and Delivery for Mobile Learning Experiences: Marrying Informal Flexibility With Formal Stability

Structure and Delivery for Mobile Learning Experiences: Marrying Informal Flexibility With Formal Stability

Hugh Kellam (University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Canada)
Copyright: © 2020 |Pages: 19
DOI: 10.4018/IJOPCD.2020010102

Abstract

The purpose of this article was to identify, implement, and evaluate the effectiveness of best practices from the mobile learning literature for the structure and delivery of mobile learning. Mobile learning activities were deployed in a videoconference equipment training course which was accessed by physicians, nurses, and healthcare professionals at medical organizations across Ontario. With regards to mobile learning delivery, user flexibility and control were identified as critical when utilizing a mobile learning experience to apply knowledge in a specific learning context. Avatar hosts were also identified as effective feedback and guidance mechanisms. The informal structure of mobile learning proved to be ideal for contextual, hands-on learning of specific workplace skills, supported by the baseline and summative knowledge provided by the online learning course. This study found that the structure and delivery of mobile learning must be considered during the instructional design stage in order to provide practical learning experiences and reliable learning outcomes.
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Introduction

Mobile learning has been defined as wireless devices and technologies that are used by a learner as they participate in an educational experience (Traxler, 2007). Many research studies have focused on the mobile nature and technical usability of these technologies, but it is equally important to consider the learning contexts, activities and opportunities that mobile devices afford the learner (El-Hussein & Cronje, 2010; Huang & Chiu, 2015). Mobile devices provide unique design requirements that need innovative, customized approaches in design and delivery in order to create structured learning material (Haag, 2011). According to Berking, Haag, Archibald and Birtwhistle (2012), effective mobile learning requires a paradigm shift, requiring new design strategies and learning theories.

For many researchers, it is the structure and delivery of mobile learning that are identified as the critical components of effective pedagogical design. “Mobile learning design is the design of a mobile learning course taking into account what needs to be delivered, how it will be done and the structure of such a delivery” (Stanton & Ophoff, 2013, p. 502). Mobile learning can be structured to bridge the informal and formal learning environments of contextual learning and the traditional classroom as long as educators keep in mind the learners’ needs, circumstances and abilities when structuring and delivering the mobile learning material (Kukulska-Hulme, 2010). Contextual learning in the workplace provides a variety of pedagogical opportunities, including increase learning flexibility, promoting problems solving, and shortening learning time (Zhang, David, Yin, & Chalon, 2013).

The literature identifies challenges with the adoption of mobile learning, particularly due to ineffective delivery of mobile learning activities or the structure of mobile learning content in both the educational setting (Joo, Kim & Kim, 2016) and workplace settings (Hardyman et al., 2013). While there are already an abundant variety of educational applications and resources available for mobile learning, there is limited experience in how to effectively deliver these mobile activities (Cheon, Lee, Crooks, & Song, 2012), and how to incorporate mobile learning into online learning environments (MacDonald & Creanor, 2017).

The purpose of this article is to identify, implement and evaluate the effectiveness of best practices from the mobile learning literature for the structure and delivery of mobile learning experiences. A “mobile learning experience” refers to an informal learning activity that the participants perform on their mobile device (laptop, tablet or phone), in a specific physical context or location. The structure of this informal learning experience was deployed as an interactive mobile activity within the format of a formal online learning course. The mobile learning experiences were deployed in a pilot study of the Ontario Telemedicine Network’s online videoconference equipment training course which was accessed by healthcare professionals at medical organizations across Ontario.

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