Mobile learning is learning that is mediated through mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets which allows for mobility of the learner and learning contexts. When a learner engages in mobile learning, the learner can do so at varying times, with different content, and in varying contexts. This theory of learning is often called “anywhere and anytime” learning.
Five Key Take-Aways
1. Mobile learning is not just for online classes.
All learners are learning in the digital information age and have access to a myriad of online educational content through mobile devices. Online learners do benefit from mobile learning opportunities, and so do students in on-campus and hybrid learning environments.
2. Mobile learning is active learning.
Mobile learners can take charge of their learning through this modality and become active participants in the learning environment.
3. Mobile learning can foster self-directed learning.
The accessibility of mobile devices prompts the learner to be more self-directed about time on task, learning goals, and utilizing academic resources to support learning. Mobile learning prompts learners to utilize their own technology for their educational success.
4. Mobile learning is inclusive.
Over 85% of Americans now own a smartphone (Pew Research Center, 2021); While stable internet connectivity varies among that ownership, mobile learning meets the learners where they are with the skills and connectivity they have. It doesn’t ask them to upgrade first.
5. Mobile learning can build students’ digital skills.
As the world changes and technology evolves, students will need to sharpen their digital skills and critical thinking skills related to technology.
Tips for Mobile Learning
Ask students what technology they plan to use to engage with the class
Asking students what devices they plan to use to join the virtual class session or engage in the LMS will let you know what percentage of the students are using mobile devices regularly. This can help professors make better decisions about how you will accept work or what behaviors count for engagement in a virtual session. This can also lead to a better understanding of the learners’ context and environment, such as where the student has to be to access the internet.
Give students more options for completing assignments
As it is appropriate for the subject matter or the class, consider how to give students different ways to demonstrate their learning. Would a video essay be an acceptable option for students to demonstrate their learning? Instead of restricting online presentations to one tool, such as PowerPoint, allow students to use the presentation tool of their choice.
Test the user experience on a mobile device
Use your own mobile device (or ask a colleague/student to help) to navigate your online classroom, test the links, or practice the assignment that students will need to do. Just a quick test can illuminate important insights on the experience for learners.
Break down text heavy content with images and/or short videos
What looks like a manageable amount of text on a full-sized screen will seem twice as long on a smaller screen, and that may discourage students from reading thoroughly or deeply. When possible, break text into smaller chunks and supplement with images (pictures, illustrations, graphs, infographscs). Short videos can also cover key concepts, and all online learners like videos.
Encourage students to use their phones in class (with guidelines, of course)
Have students research relevant topics during class and share results for discussion and critique. Encourage the use of note-taking apps during class. Many note-taking apps allow the student to add links, images, audio/video files, and other digital resources.
Send students out in groups for a ‘search and find’ - searching for objects, places, or on the spot interviewing that is relevant to class concepts.
Articles for further reading
Leiberman, M. (2019, February 27). Students Are Using Mobile Even If You Aren’t. Inside HigherED. https://www.insidehighered.com/digital-learning/article/2019/02/27/mobile-devices-transform-classroom-experiences-and
Mobile Learning Resource Library. Educause. https://library.educause.edu/topics/teaching-and-learning/mobile-learning