Towards Work-Based Mobile Learning: What We Can Learn from the Fields of Work-Based Learning and Mobile Learning

Towards Work-Based Mobile Learning: What We Can Learn from the Fields of Work-Based Learning and Mobile Learning

Christoph Pimmer (University of Applied Sciences Northwestern Switzerland, Switzerland), Norbert Pachler (Institute of Education University of London, UK) and Graham Attwell (University of Warwick, UK)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-0053-9.ch014
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Mobile devices are increasingly being used to support learning in work contexts. In exploring the emerging field of work-based mobile learning (WBML), researchers need to give consideration to the theoretical and empirical findings from mobile and work-based learning. In this paper, the authors provide an overview of key issues and dominant debates in these fields with the aim of providing a systematic introduction for mobile learning researchers interested in exploring the use of mobile devices for learning in work-based contexts. This paper’s focus is aimed at scoping possible commonalities across mobile and work-based learning in order to establish a baseline for future conceptual work in empirical research towards WBML.
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Mobile Learning

An Emerging Field

Today mobile technologies such as cell phones are widespread and multifunctional, mobile broadband coverage has improved considerably in recent years and smartphones are combining more and more capabilities—ranging from telecommunication and video capturing to personal information management (Livingston, 2004); this important characteristic is referred to as convergence in the literature (Pachler, Bachmair, & Cook, 2010). At the same time costs for telecommunication have been decreasing (compare e.g., European Statistics Eurostat, 2008). Mobiles—such as the iPhone—were identified in recent Horizon Reports (2009, 2010) as the technologies with the highest likelihood of entry into the mainstream of learning-focused institutions within the next year. Whereas mobile devices have become more and more embedded in the life worlds of learners, schools have mostly not considered them as cultural resources (Pachler, 2009; Pachler, Bachmair, & Cook, 2010). Similarly, companies seem to be hesitant acknowledge the potential of mobile technologies for learning (Härtel et al., 2007) despite the high penetration of mobile devices also in the business environments (Dzartevska, 2009).

In line with the spreading of mobile technologies, mobile learning is a rapidly expanding field of research (see e.g., Vavoula, Pachler, & Kukulska-Hulme, 2009). Its growing importance is reflected, for example, in the rising number of conferences [1], journals and books [2]. A number of mobile learning projects have been piloted in schools and institutions of Higher Education (see e.g.,; for a state of the art analysis of mobile projects compare e.g., Frohberg, 2006; Frohberg et al., 2009; Pachler, Bachmair, & Cook, 2010; Seipold & Pachler, 2010). Some projects have been also conducted and researched in business contexts (see e.g., Pimmer & Gröhbiel, 2008; Pachler, Pimmer, & Seipold, forthcoming).

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