A Guide for Mobile-Assisted Language Learning in Informal Settings: Pedagogical and Design Perspectives

A Guide for Mobile-Assisted Language Learning in Informal Settings: Pedagogical and Design Perspectives

Emine Şendurur (Ondokuz Mayıs University, Turkey)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-2116-8.ch002


The evolution of mobile devices, web technologies, and learning paradigms has been shaping MALL practice. Today, informal learning has become more important than ever since the number of resources increased and the interaction styles became multidimensional. Computer-assisted language learning was converted into different forms, and mobile-assisted language learning is one of them. In its early history, the pedagogical dimension of MALL was criticized for being very behavioristic. However, the collaborative and creative nature of Web 2.0 tools contributed to methodological changes in the MALL tradition. Although there are many mobile applications designed to improve language proficiency, cloud-based tools and other mobile applications can feed the language skills informally if the designers benefit from big data.
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The notions of teaching and learning have been shaping in line with the improvements of available technologies. Since the days when the classrooms were dominated by blackboards, textbooks, and notebooks, the meaning of instructional media has changed dramatically. In addition, the way people access information, interact with resources, and utilize instructional tools have been transformed into different forms. For example, before the Internet, encyclopedias and books were highly demanded as primary sources. Today, the majority of people owing to the convenience issues prefer free online sources. At that point, many different issues including ethics, reliability, currency, and accuracy of the source emerge. Nevertheless, the use of modern tools is inevitable for modern people (Lebo, 2016). That’s why the issues about technology integration are still quite popular among scholars.

The concept of instructional media sometimes can be fuzzy although the modern media have distinctive features. Although the issue of whether teachers are instructional media or not is arguable, recently the discussion has a new direction towards how people or any other source can serve as instructional media regardless of environmental settings (Looi et al., 2012). In other words, the new educational paradigm considers the notion of learning free from boundaries. The following aspects exemplify the industrial paradigm: sorting students, teacher-centered instruction, presentation of information by teachers, time-based progress, standardized instruction, norm-referenced testing, individual working skills, and unpleasant activity (Reigeluth, 2016). On the other hand, those aspects have turned into other forms by post-industrial paradigm. The following features can be listed as the main issues of the current paradigm: learning-focused, learner-centered instruction, learning by doing, attainment-based progress, customized instruction, criterion-referenced testing, collaborative skills, and enjoyable activity with life-long learning (Reigeluth, 2016). Unlike the demands of industrial age, the needs of information age are multidimensional, and thus the frames of reference for learning have been changing. In classical taxonomy of Bloom, the knowledge was an important sign of cognition, but owing to the paradigm changes, the taxonomy was revised (Krathwohl, 2002). Knowledge was converted into remembering because rote memorization does not meet the demands of current paradigm. It is more appreciated if one remembers where to look, how to find, and how to do something. People ask Google and then access any kind of information; therefore, creating something innovative and unique is the ultimate goal of today’s education.

The post-industrial paradigm brought about redefined roles of both teachers and learners, but technology was also equipped with new roles for learning (Reigeluth, 2016). The older technology was lack of customization, but modern ones keep approaching to science fiction movies thanks to artificial intelligence. Record keeping, planning, instruction, and assessment for student learning can be considered as new roles of technology in the current paradigm (Reigeluth, 2016). Another dimension of education that has evolved is related to the transactional distance between the learner and the teacher. The trends in instructional technologies also affected the way learners and teachers interact (Reiser, 2012). Once upon a time, distance education was taking place with the help of letters, but today it welcomes unimaginable forms of interactions. At present, people learn anything regardless of time and place thanks to the Internet-based technologies. The increased number of distance education centers, rapidly evolving free courses offered by either formal or non-formal institutions, highly rated Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC), or millions of mobile applications on the market can be named as signs of evolving learning environments. In other words, the learning experiences of students are not limited to classrooms, teachers, books, course hours, or any other aspect of regular learning settings (Barlow, 2008; Looi et al., 2012).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Gamification: It is an approach including such game elements as badges to increase motivation of learners.

Web 2.0: The second generation of Web converting consumers into producers.

User Experience (UX): It is the whole of experiences users engage in tools, software, device, system, service, etc.

Informal Learning: It is a learning type taking place outside the boundaries of formal learning.

Mobile Application: It is a kind of software including any content/service/interaction/aim and compatible with mobile devices.

M-Learning: It is a form of digital learning happening via mobile devices.

MALL: It is a language learning process taking place with the help of mobile applications.

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