I've been following the research about learning and mobile/handheld devices since 2003, and can now say with confidence that the era of mobile learning has arrived. Netbooks, smartphones, e-readers, and iPads are in the hands of people of all ages, and more people are spending time learning "on-the-go" - for informal learning as well as learning that is attached to a formal course of study.
Thanks to the hard work of researchers around the world, there is a growing body of scholarly research that supports this trend. The following article, published this year (2010), focuses on research in the UK, but is worth reviewing by educators (and learners) in the US and other countries:
MODERNIZING EDUCATION AND TRAINING: MOBILIZING TECHNOLOGY FOR LEARNING
Authors: Jill Attewell, Carol Savill-Smith, Rebecca Douch, Guy Parker
Mobile Learning (MoLENET) Program
"In recent years there have been amazing advances in consumer technology. The Mobile Learning Network (MoLeNET) initiative has enabled colleges and schools to harness some of this technology in order to modernise aspects of teaching, learning and training. The result has been improvements in learner engagement, retention, achievement and satisfaction. This publication draws on the experiences of the 11,253 learners and 2261 teachers involved in the 2nd year of MoLeNET. It also reports the findings of research which sought evidence of the impact of introducing handheld and wireless technologies for learning. This evidence has been collected and analysed by LSN Technology Enhanced Learning Research Centre researchers and by practitioner researchers trained and supported by LSN. The handheld technologies used by MoLeNET 2 learners included mobile phones, MP3/MP4 players (e.g. iPods), iPod Touch, netbooks, gaming devices (i.e. Nintendo DS and Sony PSP) and various tiny cameras and specialist scientific technologies.
Universities and Libraries Move to the Mobile Web
Alan W. Aldrich, Educause