Mobile learning

John Dewey, writing in the early years of the twentieth century, may not have foreseen the proliferation of 21st century ‘mobile devices’ but, in the quotation to the right, he does point out something that remains relevant: that mobile learning involves change, initiative and adaptability.

Mobile learning involves change in the sense that the ability to communicate with tutors and peers, as well as access learning resources, changes what is possible in education. It takes initiative for leaders to create a vision to sustain that change and, finally, mobile learning requires adaptability by members of staff to carry out the change.

This infoKit is a practical guide to thinking through the issues relating to institutional adoption of mobile learning. It follows a JISC Mobile and Wireless Technologies Review which delves deeper into the theory behind mobile learning and the wider context. One of the biggest take-aways from that review is that mobile learning is still in its infancy and that mobile learning, as explained in What is mobile learning? is about the mobility of the learner rather than the device.

As with other forms of Technology-Enhanced Learning (TEL) it is possible for mobile learning to be used in a small-scale and ad-hoc manner. Such approaches are rarely sustainable or, ultimately, satisfactory without wider buy-in from across an institution. Successful mobile learning initiatives are change management programmes that involve Strategy, a focus on Pedagogy, and a rigorous Implementation plan.

Whilst there are many approaches an institution can take when it comes to mobile learning, from administrative functionality through to rich learning and teaching experiences, one key factor to take into consideration is the learner. The importance of context cannot be overstated when it comes to mobile learning. Talking to and gaining feedback from learners allows institutions to plan accordingly for the contexts within which learners operate. The Snapshots section gives examples of institutions and organisations that have done just this.

JISC Emerging Practice in a Digital Age

Emerging Practice in a Digital Age

The Mobile Learning infoKit is a developing resource from JISC infoNet launched at ALT-C 2011 alongside the new JISC publication Emerging Practice in a Digital Age (September 2011). Augmenting the Emerging Practice guide, this infoKit is a practical guide for educational institutions planning to implement a mobile learning initiative.

At launch, the Mobile Learning infoKit comprised a wiki-based resource collating information and guidance from JISC and other sources. It has developed to incorporate additional examples of initiatives from across the sector. An overview of the Mobile Learning infoKit is available as a SlideShare presentation.

Bee motif

As with the Open Educational Resources infoKit, when JISC infoNet came to finalising a design for the Mobile Learning infoKit, we needed a motif. A seemingly-obvious choice would be to use images of mobile phones and other mobile devices but this would remove the focus from the mobility of the learner.

After seeking opinions via Twitter and a thread on Quora the front-runners were birds and bees. We chose the latter because of their obviously-collaborative nature and the links with the social element of mobile learning. We’d like to thank those who suggested ideas, as well as those photographers who kindly shared their wonderful images under a Creative Commons license.


Published: 6 September 2011 | Last updated: 24 January 2013