The Open UniversitySkip to content

Distance Learners’ Use of Handheld Technologies: Mobile Learning Activity, Changing Study Habits, and the ‘Place’ of Anywhere Learning

Cross, Simon; Sharples, Mike; Healing, Graham and Ellis, Jim (2019). Distance Learners’ Use of Handheld Technologies: Mobile Learning Activity, Changing Study Habits, and the ‘Place’ of Anywhere Learning. International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 20(2) pp. 224–241.

Full text available as:
PDF (Version of Record) - Requires a PDF viewer such as GSview, Xpdf or Adobe Acrobat Reader
Download (285kB) | Preview
DOI (Digital Object Identifier) Link:
Google Scholar: Look up in Google Scholar


This study investigates how and where distance learners use handheld devices and the impact this has on learning habits, access to learning content and quality of work. It analyses the spatial dimension of ‘anytime anywhere’ learning and, with a focus on anywhere learning, it explores students’ ongoing negotiation of the flow between and across study locations. The study concludes by proposing two new concepts: the ‘flow of places’ and ‘place of space.’ These should help direct the framing of future studies into the places, spaces, and mobility of formal and informal seamless learning. A dataset comprising 446 responses from undergraduate students enrolled at the UK’s largest distance learning university was analysed in respect to three research questions. All age groups, study levels, and disciplines were represented. Five key findings are: students now use handheld devices for study-related learning; the distribution of study-related learning tasks was similar in all seven study places; there is a strong, statistically-significant correlation between the number of study places in which handheld are used and the number of study task types performed; two fifths of students using a handheld device for learning have noticed a change in study habit and benefit to learning; and multiple regression analysis shows three variables (number of study places, number of study tasks, and change in study habits) are predictors of finding it easier to access learning materials and improved quality of learners’ work.

Item Type: Journal Item
ISSN: 1492-3831
Keywords: mobile learning; seamless learning; study space; handheld learning technologies; anywhere learning; distance education
Academic Unit/School: Faculty of Wellbeing, Education and Language Studies (WELS)
Research Group: Education Futures
Item ID: 58314
Depositing User: Simon Cross
Date Deposited: 17 Dec 2018 13:40
Last Modified: 18 Nov 2019 13:57
Share this page:


Altmetrics from Altmetric

Citations from Dimensions

Download history for this item

These details should be considered as only a guide to the number of downloads performed manually. Algorithmic methods have been applied in an attempt to remove automated downloads from the displayed statistics but no guarantee can be made as to the accuracy of the figures.

Actions (login may be required)

Policies | Disclaimer

© The Open University   contact the OU