A One Year Federal Mobile Learning Initiative Review

A One Year Federal Mobile Learning Initiative Review

Jace Hargis, Cathy Cavanaugh
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-5888-2.ch576
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The project goal was to engage college students by integrating iPad mobile learning devices into active teaching and learning. An effective mobile learning environment was built by following the conceptual models of technology, pedagogy and content knowledge (TPCK) and substitution, augmentation, modification and redefinition (SAMR). Emphasis was placed on shared learning resources, course redesigns, formative assessment and reflection. An effective path was identified to address productive faculty movement from one level to the next using the SAMR model. In parallel with faculty development and course redesign, it was decided that appropriated aligned learning assessments are key and can be developed through SAMR levels, such as by embedding formative feedback and iterative practice into constructive and contextualized activities. Specifically, authentic, project/challenge-based learning designs should center on methods and apps, which align with the learner-centered approaches observed to be effective during the first year of the mobile learning initiative.

In April 2012, the three federal higher education institutions met to discuss creating functional, meaningful mobile learning in and outside of the classrooms. The emphasizes was that sound pedagogical principles should guide implementation to encourage meaningful student engagement.

From the beginning, three key priority planning and implementation teams were identified and guided by the Technological Pedagogical and Content Knowledge (TPCK) model (Koehler & Mishra, 2009): Technology, Content and Pedagogy Teams. The Pedagogy Team addressed the training of and communication with key educators and technology coaches called iChampions; the implementation and update of an iPads in Education website; and professional development activities throughout the country to provide awareness and activities to increase iChampion capacity. One tangible successful outcome for the iChampions is a national faculty development event called iCelebration, which focused on short-sharing sessions of one specific iPad app.

The conceptual framework that guides the aspirations underlying mobile learning is Puentedura’s (2009) SAMR model because it describes the stages that an institution might experience on the path to redefining how it approaches technology-enabled education.

  • Substitution: Technology acts as a direct tool substitute, with no functional change.

  • Augmentation: Technology acts as a direct tool substitute, with functional improvement.

  • Modification: Technology allows for significant task redesign.

  • Redefinition: Technology allows for the creation of new tasks, previously inconceivable.

The SAMR model was adopted and integrated into iChampion and broad faculty development activities, supported by visits by Dr. Puentedura. iChampions and faculty reflected on their teaching approaches and identified ways their practice has moved toward redefinition. The adoption of iPad mobile learning environments guided by the SAMR model for faculty development and engaged pedagogy is founded in current research in education, as outlined in the following section.

The project goal of engagement is supported by the TPCK and SAMR models in context of mobile learning. Specific to our evidence, we provide information on mobile learning for language development, which is a major program in our institutions, mobile learning devices as an ideal tool for addressing the 21st century skills of communication.



Mobile learning implementation began with incoming Foundations students in pre-college language development courses. Mobile Learning Environments (MLEs) have been shown to support language immersion and practice that develops fluency and general academic skills. In particular, MLEs are especially well suited to support the core communication and general academic/pre-professional skills that center on collaboration, construction, and contextualized learning.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Active Learning: Active learning is using what we know about learning theories and how people process information to engage them in the learning process. This approach provides benefits beyond increased capacity in the content area, which include intrinsic motivation, and the high potential for increase self-regulation and metacognition.

TPCK Model: The TPCK model is an efficient method to determine and/or identify an institutions status of preparedness prior to and along the process of implementing a new instructional technology. The steps include updating the Technology as necessary, which could be a more robust wireless campus; integrating appropriate active Pedagogy, and empowering faculty to become less risk-adverse and try new strategies; and finally creating or accessing meaningful, well-aligned Content for the new approach.

Formative Feedback: Formative feedback is the essential notion that while the project is in formation, and while corrections can be made, stakeholders are kept abreast of areas which are working as well as other areas that may require redirection. Similar to student formative assessment, this real-time approach to implementing a project is challenging and time-consuming, however, the front-end loading philosophy produces higher quality, sustaining results.

Massively Open Online Courses (MOOC): MOOCs are relatively new to higher education and their usefulness are currently being debated. This chapter does not address their usefulness, but provides a potential pathway, which mobile learning can be integrated. MOOCs capitalize on the success of large learning management systems and enable professors to create video’s, learning objects and methods to encourage interaction of the 90,000 students who could be taking the course online at any point, free of charge.

Faculty Development: In our context, faculty development focused on building relationships. The interactions between leaders and more importantly between faculty are the key component to creating an environment for open discussion and sustainable progress.

Mobile Learning Environment (MLE): A MLE is an environment where learners can capitalize on mobile learning tools, such as laptops and tablets and their associated high access to broadband Internet. These environments foster communication beyond the local group, efficiently provide resources and research, as well as empower the user to think more broadly.

SAMR Model: SAMR is a faculty developmental model useful for guiding faculty through a novel learning process. The four steps include Substitution, Augmentation, Modification and Redefinition. The goal is not necessarily to reach the endpoint of Redefinition, but more to have an awareness of the current phase of operation and have a reasonable plan and timeline for movement.

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