Informal learning evidence in online communities of mobile device enthusiasts

Clough, Gill; Jones, Ann; McAndrew, Patrick and Scanlon, Eileen (2009). Informal learning evidence in online communities of mobile device enthusiasts. In: Ally, Mohamed ed. Mobile Learning: Transforming the Delivery of Education and Training. Issues in Distance Education. Athabasca University Press, pp. 99–112.



This chapter describes a study that investigated the informal learning practices of enthusiastic mobile device owners. Informal learning is far more widespread than is often realized. Livingston (2000) pointed out that Canadian adults spend an average of fifteen hours per week on informal learning activities, more than they spend on formal learning activities. The motivation for these learning efforts generally comes from the individual, not from some outside force such as a school, university, or workplace. Therefore, in the absence of an externally imposed learning framework, informal learners will use whatever techniques,resources, and tools best suit their learning needs and personal preferences. As ownership of mobile technologies becomes increasingly widespread in the western world, it is likely that learners who have access to this technology will use it to support their informal learning efforts. This chapter presents the findings of a study into the various and innovative ways in which PDA and Smartphone users exploit mobile device functionality in their informal learning activities. The findings suggested that mobile device users deploy the mobile, connective, and collaborative capabilities of their devices in a variety of informal learning contexts, and in quite innovative ways. Trends emerged, such as the increasing importance of podcasting and audio and the use of built-in GPS, which may have implications for future studies. Informal learners identified learning activities that could be enhanced by the involvement of mobile technology, and developed methods and techniques that helped them achieve their learning goals.

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