Academic journal article Educational Technology & Society

Development and Evaluation of an Interactive Mobile Learning Environment with Shared Display Groupware

Academic journal article Educational Technology & Society

Development and Evaluation of an Interactive Mobile Learning Environment with Shared Display Groupware

Article excerpt

Introduction

Various mobile devices have been used in mobile learning, such as wrist-worn devices, mobile phones, handheld computers, web pads, pen tablet computers and laptop computers (Sharples & Beale, 2003). Many studies have reported achievements in the investigation of learning interests and the effectiveness of mobile learning (Rieger & Gay, 1997; Roschelle, 2003; Tatar, Roschelle, Vahey & Penuel, 2003; Zurita & Nussbaum, 2004). For an effective integration of mobile learning into a digital classroom environment, it is important for all students in a group to have their own computing device equipped with wireless communication capability to conduct learning tasks (Chan et al., 2006; Liang et al., 2005; Soloway et al., 2001). However, through the observation of learning activities with students using mobile devices for collaborative learning, some problems exist. For example, the experience of using Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs) as learning tools shows that it was difficult while sharing information with group members using mobile devices during the learning activity. When learners discuss and share information in a collaborative learning setting using mobile devices such as PDAs, screen size may have a negative influence on the learning activity due to the limitation of the screen size of the PDA (Magerkurth & Tandler, 2002). It is difficult to let all group members look at the same screen on a PDA simultaneously. To help other group members get access to the information simultaneously during the discussion, the learner may interrupt the task which still in progress, wait for other group members until they finished watching, and then continue the learner's own original task. Therefore, a shared display is needed, which group members can access, thus creating a common focus, facilitating group discussion and sharing of information without interruption.

The concept for supporting collaborative work between people via a shared computer with a single shared display was proposed by Stewart, Bederson, & Druin (1999). Subsequently, many studies followed this concept to develop environments or tools which support face-to-face collaboration, working with a shared display, in which all participants have their own input device (Ryall, Forlines, Shen, & Morris, 2004; Tse & Greenberg, 2004; Zanella & Greenberg, 2001). Most of the above-mentioned studies focused on the issues of the system interface design, such as the design of the screen size, transparent interface components, or support of multiple input devices. However, little attention focused on the integration of the shared display with mobile devices in order to design a learning activity in the mobile learning environment.

The aim of this study, based on the above considerations, was three-fold. Firstly, a learning activity was designed with the integration of the concept of Shared Display Groupware (SDG) to support mobile learning. Secondly, a mobile learning environment was developed under the design of a learning activity. The learning environment permits students to share and exchange information from individual and public spaces and allows each group member to continue with individual tasks in this environment without interruption of other simultaneous group tasks. The learning activity was integrated into a course based on the observation of plants which includes descriptions of plants and the creation of conditions for the classification of plants through the support of the SDG together with mobile devices. Finally, an empirical study was conducted to evaluate students' overall perceptions and the learning effectiveness on the use of the SDG in the support of mobile learning.

Literature review

Mobile learning

With the rapid development of network communication technologies, more and more wireless and mobile technology applications are integrated into classrooms to support teaching and learning. …

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