Academic journal article Educational Technology & Society

A Review of Research on Mobile Learning in Teacher Education

Academic journal article Educational Technology & Society

A Review of Research on Mobile Learning in Teacher Education

Article excerpt


Over the past two decades, technology devices have become mobile--portable and networked--to the point that they have become pervasive in everyday life. The use of mobile devices has become common among a wide range of age groups due to affordability and availability (Newhouse, Williams, & Pearson, 2006). Significant investments have been made to provide infrastructure, content, and resources related to the integration of mobile devices into learning environments (Johnson, Smith, Willis, Levine, & Haywood, 2011), and researchers have long had an interest in this evolving landscape (Kukulska-Hulme, Sharples, Milrad, Arnedillo-Sanchez, & Vavoula, 2009). However several limitations exist, such as lack of theoretical and pedagogical underpinnings, sustainable integration into formal educational contexts, and, particularly, lack of teacher support and training (Cochrane, 2012; Peng, Su, Chou, & Tsai, 2009).

Teacher support and teacher training have been the least explored topics in mobile learning research (Ekanayake & Wishart, 2014). Mobile learning is especially under-theorized in teacher education (Kearney & Maher, 2013), despite the need to inform teachers of the value of mobile technologies and how to integrate them effectively into their classes (Schuck, Aubusson, Kearney, & Burden, 2013). In their review of mobile learning projects conducted in Europe, Kukulska-Hulme et al. (2009) revealed that at the "European and individual state level, there appears to be little teacher development or training activity addressing mobile learning" (p. 14). Challenges related to teachers' adoption of mobile technologies have emerged from the fact that they are not effectively prepared to investigate the advantages or make informed decisions (Kukulska-Hulme et al., 2009; Schuck et al., 2013). Because of both the pressure to provide teachers with effective technology integration skills and the rapid growth of mobile technologies as learning devices, teacher education programs need to implement theoretically and pedagogically sound mobile learning initiatives (Newhouse et al., 2006).

This review aims to fill a gap in the current research on mobile learning. Previous literature reviews have synthesized trends and provided analysis of findings (Hwang & Tsai, 2011; Hung & Zhang, 2012), but no systematic research has been conducted on mobile learning and teacher education. This is the first review to initiate an evidence-based discussion on mobile learning and related emerging pedagogical directions in teacher education.

Mobile learning and theoretical perspectives

The diversity of the research on mobile learning has made it difficult to generate a single definition or to determine generally added benefits (Frohberg, Goth, & Schwabe, 2009; Sharples, Arnedillo-Sanchez, Milrad, & Vavoula, 2009). While it is typical for an emerging field to have varied definitions, the lack of conceptual frameworks and robust theories has been frequently addressed as a concern in the literature (Peng et al., 2009). Definitions of mobile learning emphasize mobility (Sharples et al., 2009), access (Parsons & Ryu, 2006), immediacy (Kynaslahti, 2003), situativity (Cheon, Lee, Crooks, & Song, 2012), ubiquity (Kukulska-Hulme et al., 2009), convenience (Kynaslahti, 2003), and contextuality (Kearney, Schuck, Burden, & Aubusson, 2012). According to Sharples et al. (2009), mobile learning includes the characteristics of mobility in physical, conceptual, and social spaces. The "relationship between the context of learning and context of being" is unique to mobile learning, as learning may occur in independent, formal, or socialized contexts (Frohberg et al., 2009, p. 313).

The greatest added value of mobile learning vis-a-vis PC learning lies in the aspects that extend classroom interaction to other locations via communication networks. Recent advances such as imbedded sensors, cameras, motion detection, location awareness, social networks, web searching, and augmented reality present the potential to foster learning and engagement across multiple physical, conceptual, and social spaces, both indoors and out (Newhouse et al. …

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