Language Learners and Mobile Technology: How They Interact?

Language Learners and Mobile Technology: How They Interact?

Saleh Al-Shehri (King Khalid University, Saudi Arabia)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-0469-6.ch002
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In order to understand the influence of mobile social media vs. formal learning platforms on creating effective student-student and teacher-student communication channels and linguistic outputs, this study was conducted. Using a qualitative approach, a number of 30 English language university teachers were interviewed. Evidence from their mobile and non-mobile interaction with their students was analyzed to support data from the interviews. The study evaluates the potential of both formal and informal communication mediums to maintain student-centered language learning experience. The study concludes that teachers still need to be aware of the potential of mobile technology and social media for language learning, and that there was a tendency among some teachers to implement formal technology tools for their teaching.
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Literature Review

One important aspect of the study of human-mobile interaction is investigating the relationship between users and mobile technology. According to Zimmermann, Henze, Righetti, Rukzio, and Enrico (2009), mobile devices, including mobile phones and mobile media players, have become the most pervasive ways that people interact with technology, and are used for a huge variety of services and applications. In de Sa and Carrico's (2010) words:

Our lives and society are rapidly gravitating towards a world in which mobile devices are taken for granted. These are no longer accessory but become natural extensions to our bodies. Their use has become quasi-permanent, following and supporting us in most of our activities and affecting the way we interact, share, and communicate with others. (p. 176)

This means that many people today are extremely emerged in mobile devices that have dramatically changed and are changing their way of life. Young people, often referred to as mobile or digital natives, are more frequent users of mobile devices since they usually tend to adopt more flexible lifestyles. Mobile devices have greatly changed the way they think, communicate, entertain, and above all, learn. In particular, students’ life experiences and home culture can effectively be connected by mobile phone technologies, and students’ own cultures were found to be apparent in their classroom learning activities thanks to mobile social media (Kolb, 2008). Traxler and Kukulska-Hulme (2016) note that the next generation of mobile learning is becoming ‘context-aware’, and that mobile learning takes advantage of students’ rich environments inside and outside the classroom. Hence, students are encouraged to capture aspects of their environments, and integrate informal mobile media into their formal learning experiences. The divide between formal technologies, implemented by learning institutions, and informal technologies mobile tools needs to be narrowed.

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