Mobile learning: research, practice and challenges

Sharples, Mike (2013). Mobile learning: research, practice and challenges. Distance Education in China, 3(5) pp. 5–11.


Over the past ten years mobile learning has grown from small-scale studies to large national and international projects, but it still lacks an evidence base of comparative studies and research into large-scale deployment. Existing systems can be described along a dimension of ‘formality’, ranging from mobile devices in fixed settings such as classrooms managed by a teacher, to highly mobile learning applications in informal learning, controlled by the learner. Recent research has investigated the concept of‘seamless learning’ with the aim of supporting a continuity of learning across contexts and devices, for example to connect learning in classrooms and on school museum visits. Factors influencing the success of mobile learning include: availability of technology, institutional support, connectivity, integration into everyday life, and ownership by the learners. Some challenges for the future include improving the usability of mobile learning technology, designing new forms of informal learning supported by personal mobile devices, and evaluating learning that occurs outdoors and across locations.

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