Building Mobile Learning Capacity in Higher Education:E-books and iPads

Smith, Martin and Kukulska-Hulme, Agnes (2012). Building Mobile Learning Capacity in Higher Education:E-books and iPads. In: Specht, Marcus; Multisilta, Jari and Sharples, Mike eds. 11th World Conference on Mobile and Contextual Learning. Helsinki: CELSTEC & CICERO Learning, pp. 298–301.


The growing popularity of e-books, e-book readers and tablet devices is forcing a reappraisal of the various functions of ‘the book’ in education. Furthermore, e-books are becoming a more salient element in the ecology of mobile learning, as new devices make reading a more comfortable and sociable experience. We report on the results of an 18-month project (2010-12) undertaken as part of The Open University’s Building Mobile Learning Capacity initiative. The project introduced a group of Associate Lecturers to interactive e-books produced by the university and to the iPads® on which they could be accessed. The proliferation of increasingly interactive e-books and e-book collections calls for an examination of their evolving pedagogical purposes; an important aim of the project was therefore to enable this group to form ideas of how these resources could be incorporated in distance education and professional development of academic staff/faculty. The project used surveys, focus group meetings, online forum postings, blog posts and wikis to enable participants to record their experiences and ideas. One project output has been the identification of a spiral of six key use case areas for e-books. In particular, the categories ‘situational reading’, ‘collaborative/group learning’ and ‘e-book production’ inspired a collaboratively designed group activity for a face-to-face outdoor tutorial, which was trialled and is described in this paper. The experience has relevance for the design of blended learning as well as for mobile learning activities in many other settings.

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