Mobile technologies: prospects for their use in learning in informal science settings

Scanlon, Eileen; Jones, Ann and Waycott, Jenny (2005). Mobile technologies: prospects for their use in learning in informal science settings. Journal of Interactive Media in Education, 21(5)



Recent developments in mobile technologies have offered the potential to support learners studying a variety of subjects. In this paper we explore the possibilities related to science learners and in particular focus on science learners in informal settings and reflect on a number of recent projects in order to consider the prospects for such work. The debate on informal learning acknowledges the complexity of the area and the difficulty of defining informal learning. One view is to consider the settings in which learning takes place as a continuum from formal settings, e.g. university, to social structures, e.g. friendship groups (Sefton-Green, 2004). The literature on science learning with mobile devices at this very 'informal' end of the spectrum is currently sparse and so in the paper we reflect on some projects and possibilities across the continuum. Our main focus is how mobile devices can support informal learning in science and research possibilities. Some of the recent research on mobile learning has used an activity theoretical perspective, including one of the case studies we discuss and in the final part of the paper we highlight the influence of activity theory in helping us to consider the complexity of the learning settings.

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