Saturday, September 11, 2010

Link: Mobile Learning in the UK: MoLeNET Research Article "Modernizing Education and Training: Mobilizing Technology for Learning"

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:


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. 

Positive reactions from practitioners include one teacher commenting that the introduction of mobile technology has had more impact on their teaching than anything else in the last 10 years adding 'there is no doubt that mobile technology has a place in the classroom'. Another reported that 'learners in outreach centres or work-based environments felt better supported' and a senior manager told researchers 'it has transformed teaching and learning in some areas. It's opened up a world of new possibilities'."

Jill Attwell is the Research Manager and Carol Savill-Smith is the Development Officer at the Research Centre for Technology Enhanced Learning  Both have been involved in research about mobile learning for many years. Below are a few links to some of their previous work:

The use of computer and video games for learning – a review of the literature for the m-learning project.  Carol Savill-Smith, Alice Mitchell, published in September 2004

Learning with Mobile Devices   Papers from the MLEARN 2003 conference, Carol Savill-Smith Jill Attewell, published in May 2004

The use of palmtop computers for learning – a review of the literature for the m-learning project.  Carol Savill-Smith, Phillip Kent, published in August 2003

Computer games and simulations for adult learning – case studies from practice, Carol Savill-Smith,  Sara de Freitas and Jill Attewell, published in December 2006.

Universities and Libraries Move to the Mobile Web  
Alan W. Aldrich, Educause

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