Turn On Your Mobile Devices: Potential and Considerations of Informal Mobile Learning

Turn On Your Mobile Devices: Potential and Considerations of Informal Mobile Learning

Shuang Hao (Florida State University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-1815-2.ch003
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The number of mobile devices and active users is growing. Mobile devices expand the reach of technology-mediated communication possibilities for many people. They have become a convenient, and in many instances preferred, way for people to communicate with each other as well as to access the Internet. In terms of learning, this means that people can increasingly access both content and resources from any number of locations. This chapter explores how mobile devices can be used to support informal learning practices, and it provides practical tips for researchers in conducting studies of informal mobile learning.
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General Background Of Mobile Learning

In order to achieve the objectives of this chapter, it is important to first examine the current perspectives about mobile learning. The eLearning Guild defined mobile learning in their 2008 report as “any activity that allows individuals to be more productive when consuming, interacting with or creating information mediated through a compact digital portable device that the individual carries on a regular basis, has reliable connectivity and fits in a pocket or purse” (Wexler, Brown, Metcalf, Rogers, & Wagner, 2008, p. 7). With this definition, it becomes clear that mobile phones, PDAs, touch pads and portable laptops fall in the mobile device category. Mobile phones are still considered as the major tool for mobile learning because of its ubiquitous feature. The number of mobile phone users is growing. Cochrane and Bateman (2010) noted that the total number of mobile phone users worldwide were over four billion in 2010, comparing to 800 million computer owners. Mobile phones give people freedom to interact with each other and to reach out for information (Ally, 2005). The proliferation and adoption of mobile phones makes most people choose them as a major communication gateway (Chapel, 2008), which provides the user with a foundation that makes the idea of learning through mobile phones possible. The Smartphone market is gaining in popularity, and users are beginning to have more integrated services from their daily-used phones. It is predicted that by 2014, the Smartphone market will reach 30% of the worldwide mobile phone market, and the users of Smartphones will exceed computer users by then (Hendery, 2009). Thus, mobile phones are generally considered as the default tool when researching mobile learning.

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