An Evaluative Framework for the Most Suitable Theory of Mobile Learning

An Evaluative Framework for the Most Suitable Theory of Mobile Learning

Niti Mittal (Jaypee Institute of Information Technology, India), Monica Chaudhary (S. P. Jain School of Global Management, Sydney, Australia), and Shirin Alavi (Jaypee Institute of Information Technology, India)
Copyright: © 2020 |Pages: 24
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-2185-4.ch001
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The focus of ICT in education has shifted from e-learning to mobile learning as mobile devices offer many technological and pedagogical affordances coupled with their affordability. It is imperative to say their potential can be leveraged efficiently in teaching-learning communities in developing countries in general and South-Asian countries in particular. To ensure its successful implementation a theory of mobile learning is required. This chapter draws an evaluative framework of existing theories of learning and proposes the most suitable theory of learning which can be leveraged to promote mobile learning to promote access of education in the developing nations.
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Mobile learning is a buzzword in technology-enhanced learning domain. It is an emerging trend in schools and in higher education not only in the developed nations but developing nations as well. In the past decade the focus of ICT in education has shifted from e-learning to mobile learning or m-learning. This shift can be attributed to high cost of computers and laptops and unprecedented affordances of mobile technologies in terms of technology and cost. The report prepared by Deloitte for GSMA to assess the impact of mobile telephony on economic growth of developing nations suggests that mobile devices are the best or the only option for internet in the developing nations (Deloitte/GSMA Report, 2012). With the naissance of Web 2.0 the way knowledge is received and shared has gone an unprecedented change.

Mobile learning supports problem-based learning, personalized learning, context-based and situated learning etc. The literature supports the capacity of mobile learning to augment traditional learning methods. Despite this, mobile learning lags behind in its full-scale implementation. This can be attributed to the fact that mobile learning is considered only as a tool for delivering education. But mobile learning is not a tool but ‘a method of teaching’. Therefore, we need a theory of mobile learning to pave way for its successful implementation and realization of its potentialities in the world especially in developing nations where GDP and per capita income is low. What, when, where and how of learning have intrigued mankind since the beginning and many theories of learning have been advanced over the last 2500 years since Confucius, but almost all have been predicated on the assumption that learning occurs in a school classroom under the supervision of a teacher. But none of the theories that have been proposed throw a direct light on the mobility of the learner, which is the necessary requirement of new age learners. Meeker (2014) states that mobile internet traffic already constitutes more than twenty five percent of global traffic. In the developed world people already own one or more smart devices like mobile phones and tablets and they are using their mobile phones in preference over other devices to access information, build knowledge and share understanding.

When we talk of mobile learning what exactly we are talking about? Is it the learner who is mobile or is it the technology which is mobile? Since books and laptops being portable can be taken along with the learner. Do these constitute mobile learning? Puentedura (Pegrum, 2014a) has elaborated over this anomaly in a concise manner. He has stated that “a useful rule of thumb for differentiating portable from truly mobile devices is that the former are typically used at point A, powered down and moved, then opened up at point B, while the latter are used at point A, point B and everywhere in between without stopping.” This differentiation highlights ‘always on’ characteristics of mobile devices. Thus, mobile devices are not only portable but are also light weight which makes them easier to carry even at marketplaces, they are ubiquitous because of the low cost as compared to desktops and laptops. They confer flexibility to the learners as they are wireless and they have the largest percentage of ownership both in the developed and developing countries. Mobile devices include simple mobile phones, smartphones, PDAs, Mp3 players, iPods, iPads, e-book readers, tablets and mini pads as well as emerging devices like fitness bands, smart watches, smart glasses. As the number of mobile device owners is rising both in the developed and developing nations, institutes can initiate a BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) concept. BYOD initiative will reduce the hardware cost of the institutes and maximizes the affordances of mobile devices because many individuals upgrade their devices more often than the institutions do (Pegrum, 2014b). Needless to say their potential can be leveraged efficiently in teaching-learning communities in developing countries in general and South-Asian countries in particular. In India, in order to popularize mobile learning Akash tablets have been given to college students and the government has launched digital India campaign in order to bridge urban rural divide. Add a final comment to conclude the para.

Having an effective theory to guide mobile learning practices in formal education will enable teachers in curriculum development and its implementation. This chapter is an attempt to provide a framework for elucidating the most suitable theory of mobile learning.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Constructivism: It is the confluence of cognitivism and social aspects of learning. The constructivists emphasize the role of conversation in learning apart from knowing how the mind works or processes the information.

Theories of Learning: Various theories of learning have been advanced to explain the nature of learning process add reference. The theories can be broadly grouped under three broad categories: Behaviorism, Cognitivism and Constructivism.

Mobile Learning: Sharples et al. (2005c) have drawn a line between learning and mobile learning, According to them in mobile learning “It is the learner that is mobile, rather than the technology; Learning is interwoven with other activities as part of everyday life; Learning can generate as well as satisfy goals; The control and management of learning can be distributed; Context is constructed by learners through interaction; Mobile learning can both complement and conflict with formal education; Mobile learning raises deep ethical issues of privacy and ownership”.

Cognitivism: Cognitivism gained momentum in the late 1950s as a counter attack towards behaviorism, which relied upon overt or observable behavior as the determinant of human learning. The cognitivists emphasized the role of internal mental processes and how mind works during the process of learning.

Connectivism: Connectivism can be aptly described as the learning theory for the digital age. In the advancing technology era the knowledge is being constantly generated and is stored in the cyber space. The learner can derive this knowledge through specialized connections within a community

Behaviorism: Behaviorism is actually a stimulus-response theory of learning and behavioristic school of thought considers knowledge as arising from stimulus-response repertoire where any learning that takes place occurs outside the individual and the cognitive function of an individual does not play any role.

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