Academic journal article Kuram ve Uygulamada Egitim Bilimleri

Mobile Distance Learning with Smartphones and Apps in Higher Education

Academic journal article Kuram ve Uygulamada Egitim Bilimleri

Mobile Distance Learning with Smartphones and Apps in Higher Education

Article excerpt

Smartphones and other mobile digital devices, such as tablets, can be surprisingly useful didactic resources for developing subjects in both distance and face-to-face university studies. They may, moreover, be used as an instrument conducive to educational and personal interaction, fostering relationships between students and their professors (Bedall-Hill, 2010; Chayko, 2008; Franklin, 2011; Johnson, Adams Beker, Estrada, & Freeman, 2014; Oulasvirta, Wahlström, & Ericsson, 2011; UNESCO, 2013). Both traditional and new ways of teaching based on Learning Management Systems (LMS) and educational platforms developed by universities can be enhanced by the use of personalized apps which can be used in a collaborative way to develop curricular content. They may also be used to improve new ways of developing generic and specific competencies of university degrees within the framework of the European Higher Education Area (EHEA).

Nowadays, students experience digital environments in a very tactile and personal way through a wide variety of mobile devices (i.e., smartphones and tablets) whose uses can be converted into collaborative learning practices. Smartphones are increasingly becoming ever- present, penetrating and transforming everyday social practices and space. These practices can be complemented with text documents in different formats, audiovisual contents with mini-videos, microblogging applications, and social networks (Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, etc.). Smartphones are no longer only a tool for communication, but in many cases have become an instrument of people's social and work life, and possibly, a powerful instrument in academic life. Therefore, middle and higher education in developed and developing countries are now trying to adopt the use of smartphones in the learning process from different perspectives and teaching methods (Johnson et al., 2014; UNESCO, 2013).

Looking at the wider context of mobile learning, mobile devices are responsible for new forms of art, employment, language, commerce, and learning. Nowadays, there is no separation between real and digital life: staying in online contact with friends and colleagues, working virtually on international projects, writing an online text, or researching recommendations for interesting locations nearby; digital communication enriches the real world (Eteokleous & Ktoridou, 2009; Norris, Hossain, & Soloway, 2011). Although mobile learning support is rare in classroom settings, research on faculty support regarding how mobile technologies can be used for teaching in Higher Education is even scarcer. Therefore, more research is needed to investigate mobile teaching and learning strategies and how these strategies are being implemented to engage students in the learning process (Chen & deNoyelles, 2013).

m-Learning through Smartphones and Apps

Mobile learning (mLearning) refers to the capabilities that mobile technology devices have brought to a physical classroom context as well as to the activities of students as they participate in learning institutions (Bedall-Hill, Jabbar, & Al Sheri, 2011; Dixit, Ojampera, Nee, & Prasad, 2011; El-Hussein & Cronje, 2010). There is an ever increasing amount of mobile learning research focusing on feasibility combined with data on user experience (Fisher & Baird, 2007; Triantafillou, Georgiadou, & Economides, 2008; Vázquez-Cano, 2012). The existence of nearly 7 billion active mobile phone subscriptions worldwide dramatically illustrates the huge potential for the mLearning market and its use in education (Delfino, Dettori, & Lupi, 2009; Johnson et al., 2014; UNESCO, 2013). Mobile technologies are playing an increasingly important role in college students' academic lives. Devices such as smartphones, tablets, and e-book readers connect users to the world instantly, increasing accessibility to information and enabling users to interact with each other. With the reality being thus, using mobile technology for teaching and learning has become a rapidly evolving area of educational research (Collins, 1996; Dyson, Litchfield, Lawrence, Raban, & Leijdekkers, 2009; Frohberg, Göth, & Schwabe, 2009; Johnson, Means, & Khey, 2013; Vavoula, Pachler, & Kukulska- Hulme, 2009). …

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