Mobile learning, or m-learning, is a personal, unobtrusive, spontaneous, “anytime, anywhere” way to learn and to access educational tools and material that enlarges access to education for all. It reinforces learners’ sense of ownership of the learning experience, offering them flexibility in how, when and where they learn. In developing countries, mobile technologies potentially deliver educa- tion without dependence on an extensive traditional communications infra- structure, leapfrogging some of the intervening development phases encoun- tered in developed countries such as installing extensive electricity power grids, and building multiple computer rooms in educational institutions. Although m-learning experience remains limited, it is becoming a credible, cost-effective component of blended open and distance learning (ODL) provisions, adaptable to an institution’s needs and situation. M-learning devices are lightweight and handheld, including: • Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs), and palmtop or handheld computers. • Mobile phones, also called cell phones or handphones. Consider mobile phones, which are cheap and widely available, alongside other wireless communication devices; and handhelds, which are more expensive and scarce, alongside desktop and laptop comput- ers. Mobile devices are educationally interesting because they offer: • Several communications channels on one device, for example, email, voice, and text messaging. • Cheaper, comparable functionality with desktops or laptops. • Wireless access to educational materials, other students and Internet resources. Handhelds are currently the dominant mobile devices, apart from basic mobile phones. These technologies are converging, creating power- ful all-in-one tools such as “smartphones,” mobile phones with the func- tionality of a handheld; and handhelds with mobile phone capability. This guide focuses on the use of handheld computers or smartphones in m-learning.
John Traxler , Agnes Kukulska-Julme
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