The Use of Mobile Learning Technologies in Primary Education

The Use of Mobile Learning Technologies in Primary Education

Mark Anthony Camilleri (University of Malta, Malta) and Adriana Caterina Camilleri (Malta College of Arts, Science and Technology, Malta)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-3250-8.ch013


This research explains the rationale behind the utilization of mobile learning technologies. It involves a qualitative study among children to better understand their opinions and perceptions toward the use of educational applications (apps) that are available on their mobile devices, including smartphones and tablets. The researchers organized semi-structured, face-to-face interview sessions with primary school students who were using mobile technologies at their primary school. The students reported that their engagement with the educational apps has improved their competencies. They acquired relational and communicative skills as they collaborated in teams. On the other hand, there were a few students who were not perceiving the usefulness and the ease of use of the educational apps on their mobile device. This study indicates that the research participants had different skillsets as they exhibited different learning abilities. In conclusion, this contribution opens avenues for future research in this promising field of study.
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Today’s children are spending a considerable amount of their leisure time online (Kapp, 2012). Very often, they play games on mobile devices, including; tablets or smartphones. These developments have inevitably led to a new paradigm shift; as learning-via-play, or the use of mobile technologies in education have changed the way how students think and process information (Ge & Ifenthaler, 2018; Johnson & Mayer, 2010). Very often, technologies, including games provide an immersive, voluntary and enjoyable activity as challenging goals are pursued according to agreed-upon rules (Camilleri & Camilleri, 2019a; Hwang & Wu, 2012; Kinzie & Joseph, 2008). The students’ learning through gameplay is not only fun, but it also allows children to construct their own meanings as they can make sense of the world, in their own ways. This is in stark contrast to the traditional educational approaches, where the students stay passive and their instructor is the conductor of content and actions (Yelland, 1999). The games can be used to improve the students’ computational thinking skills in an innovative manner (Kazimoglu, Kiernan, Bacon & MacKinnon, 2012; Sung, Hillyard, Angotti, Panitz, Goldstein & Nordlinger, 2010). At the same time, these innovations are increasingly satisfying the basic requirements of the schools’ educational programs as they strive to provide an engaging learning environment for their students (Carvalho, Bellotti, Berta, De Gloria, Sedano, Hauge, Hu & Rauterberg, 2015; Connolly, Boyle, MacArthur, Hainey & Boyle, 2012; Crookall, 2010; Sandholtz, 1997). For instance, many games incorporate clear goals, achievement-based systems and rewarding mechanisms that motivate students to discover more (Kazimoglu et al., 2012). Course instructors can utlize high score charts to entice the players to improve their performance and to share their scores with others when they do well. Of course, such technologies may be utilized outside the context of entertainment; and are considered as part of a thoughtful progress toward discovery-based learning (Lugmayr, Sutinen, Suhonen, Sedano, Hlavacs & Montero, 2017; Wouters, Van Nimwegen, Van Oostendorp & Van Der Spek, 2013). The serious games are not created with the primary purpose of pure entertainment, but with the intention for use in education and training (Loh, Sheng & Ifenthaler, 2015). These games have defined learning outcomes that are designed to balance subject matter with gameplay (Kiili, 2005). The gameplay allows students to apply their conceptual knowledge. Previous studies have reported that such technologies in education can enhance the learning interests of students (Ebner & Holzinger, 2007) and could further increase their motivation (Burguillo, 2010; Dickey, 2011). Researchers have also indicated that the digital game based learning and educational apps on mobile devices are becoming an integral part of the children's cognitive development as they support them at home and at school (Camilleri & Camilleri, 2019b; Nolan & McBride, 2014; Huang, Huang & Tschopp, 2010; Zheng, McAlack, Wilmes, Kohler‐Evans & Williamson, 2009; Harris, Mishra & Koehler, 2009). Consequently, the mobile learning technologies hold great potential as students can improve their knowledge, skills and learning performance in an informal manner (through communication technologies (Hwang & Wu, 2012; Camilleri & Camilleri, 2017a; Ciampa, 2014).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Learning Outcomes: Learning outcomes are assessment tools that measure the students’ achievement at the end of a course or program.

Serious Games: Serious games refer to games that are used in industries like; education, health care, engineering, urban planning, politics and defense, among other areas. Such games are usually designed for training purpose other than pure entertainment.

Discovery-Based Learning: Discovery-based learning is a constructivist-based approach to education as students seek to learn through continuous inquiry and experience.

Digital Learning Resources: Digital learning resources include digitally formatted, educational materials like; graphics, images or photos, audio and video, simulations and animation technologies, that are used to support students to achieve their learning outcomes.

Constructivist-Based Learning: Constructivist-based learning is a learning theory claiming that individuals construct their knowledge and understandings through experiencing things.

Ubiquitous Technology: Ubiquitous technology involves the use of wireless sensor networks that disseminate information in real time, from virtually everywhere.

Digital Game-Based Learning: Digital games-based learning (DGBL) involves the use of educational video games that can be accessed through computer-based applications. DGBL are usually aimed to improve the students’ learning outcomes by balancing educational content and gameplay.

Mobile Learning: Mobile learning (m-learning) is a term that describes how individuals learn through mobile, portable devices, including smart phones, laptops and/or tablets.

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