The emergence of mobile learning


The convergence of electronic learning also referred to as e-learning and mobile computing brought about mobile learning. Mobile computing and technology is becoming prevalent in many aspects of private life and public services. Turban et al. refers mobile computing to the use of portable computer devices on radio-based networks that transmits data to and from mobile devices in multiple locations (2002:756). The benefits of its adoption is characterized by it's the major attributes and drivers of mobile computing. Mobility and broad reach distinctly differentiates mobile computing from all other forms of computing. Other attributes include Ubiquity (that is, availability at any location), Convenience, Instant Connectivity, Personalization (refers to the preparation of customized information for individual consumers), Localization of products and services (Turban et al. 2006:191). In addition to the value-added attributes aforementioned, the development of mobile computing is driven by the widespread availability of mobile devices, absolutely no need for a computer, the handset culture, the vendor's push, declining prices and increased functionalities and the improvement of band-with (Turban et al. 2006:191).


The fascinating world of mobile computing can be traced to the 1990s when all computers were developing from the stage of wired connections which limited people and workers from accessing their documents on the move. Since then, devices that have been developed for mobile computing have taken over the wireless industry. The first solution was to make computers small enough to be easily carried around.

The laptop was invented and later on, smaller computers such as the Personal Digital Assistant and other hand-held devices referred to as mobile devices also came along. According to Turban et al., these mobile devices provided the first application of mobile computing which served as a computing paradigm designed for workers who travel outside the boundaries of their organization or for individuals on the move (2006:188). He also pointed out that the second solution to the need of mobile computing was to replace wires with the wireless communication media and the combination of mobile computing in a wireless environment which brought about "the wireless mobile computing" (2006:188) that we enjoy till date. This new type of communication is a very powerful tool for both businesses and personal use because it enables real-time connection between the mobile device and other computing environments such as the internet or intranet.

These days, mobile solutions are within reach and easily accessible by everyone. Other common tools for mobile computing include devices like the Cingular Blackberry and the I-phone and it's almost seems that software companies almost make more software for PDAs and smart phones than for actual desktops. Pocket PCs such as Palm pilot, are another way to conveniently access the internet. Most Palms use the familiar Windows interface, allowing the general public to access the internet via the usual Internet Explorer or other ISPs. Also, useful software such as media editing tools, organization tools, games and even electronic books can be easily downloaded.

Information technology in general and the web in particular have expanded the opportunities for electronic or distant learning. The concept of virtual educational institutions is expanding rapidly too. Large numbers of universities offer online education while so many others have not fully imbibed this concept but use other innovative teaching methods along with multimedia support. Taking advantage of the possibilities and potential of e-learning has been promoted as the most effective means of enhancing the quality of teaching and learning at the present time making learning more accessible and less expensive(Smith 2009).

Lately, mobile phones are evolving into platforms for collaboration, knowledge access and performance support which makes it convincing that there is an attainable future designing learning and performance applications right in individual palms. A key benefit of mobile learning is its potential for increasing productivity by making learning available anywhere, anytime. Because mobile devices have the power to make learning even more widely available and accessible, mobile devices are a natural extension of electronic learning (Kossen 2010).

This research shall compare the growth of mobile learning and mobile computing, analyse the adoption Trends, Characteristics, Constraints and Challenges.


The primary goal of this research is to review mobile computing, analyse the growth of mobile computing and mobile learning, and discuss the adoption trends, characteristics, constraints, and challenges. Hence, the future of mobile learning is evaluated and recommendations will be made.


  1. To define mobile computing, its evolution and review old and current trends
  2. To analyse the characteristics and constraints
  3. To compare the growth of mobile learning and mobile computing
  4. Examine theory research in the future of mobile learning


  • Introduce the concept of mobile learning
  • Evaluate its benefits and limitations
  • Analysis of how to increase the adoption and utilization of mobile learning
  • Review the convergence of mobile computing and electronic learning from various perspectives.
  • To research the future of mobile learning and make recommendations.


In the recent years, the internet has shown prolific and inexhaustible growth which has ramifications for global industries including the educational sector. Examples of institutions that have embraced this technology include Coventry University, Stanford University amongst so many others. But why mobile learning now? This is because the mobile learning grows rapidly by the day and organizations no doubt recognize that mobile technology for learning has merit. The existing electronic learning has a lot of benefit and so many people have adopted this practice but imagine learning anywhere right in your palms, pockets or wallets.

Hand held devices have several capabilities like the pull and push of information which will help deliver learning to individual, whoever, wherever learning is needed. This research intends to discover the compatible applications and circumstances of e-learning and also the impact to the global economy.

This research will also examine the extent to which m-learning has diffused amongst education institutions and how to increase the adoption and utilization of mobile learning.


This research will be done by reviewing existing frameworks and evaluating the experiences and approaches of existing research methods to key aspects of mobile learning such as data capture and analysis, and also offer structured guidance and suggestions on adopting and extending these approaches. The research methods adopted will reflect:

  • The percentage of respondents currently deploying some mobile learning in their organization
  • The percentage of the most common transactions on a mobile device ranging from making and receiving calls, e-mails, text messages, podcasts, word processing and so on.
  • Percentage of respondents who use in-house resources to develop mobile learning.
  • Percentage of mobile learning initiatives funded by a training department
  • Percentage of organizations that supply mobile devices to their employees
  • Percentage of organizations supporting the use of personal devices for mobile learning.


Chapter 1: General Introduction to Mobile Computing and E-Learning.

  • Definition
  • Scope of study
  • Aims and Objectives

Chapter 2: An activity-based approach to considering learning with mobile technologies

  • Review of Selected Literatures and methodology

Chapter 3: Mobile Learning-Knowledge in the hand.

  • Trends and Adoption of Mobile Learning
  • Benefits and Limitations
  • Teaching and learning with mobile technologies- Case Studies
  • Implications for learners, teachers and technology developers.

Chapter 4: Detailed report of Research and Findings.

  • Data Information Analysis and Synthesis of Result

Chapter 5: The Future of Learning and teaching with mobile technologies, Recommendations and Conclusion.



Mobile technologies are a familiar part of everyone's life. Nowadays, it seems like almost has embraced the mobile technology and in fact, it is very realistic to conclude that almost every home, individual and organizations in the UK has embraced this technology either for business or personal reasons. At the infancy of this invention, people saw the technology has that normal which can be used to access a few information, take photographs and so on but the new age of mobile technology development are offering the potential for rich multimedia experiences and for location-specific resources.

The challenge for designers and educators is however the ability to understand and explore this technology to the point that it is possible to support learning. Therefore, need for critical evaluation and analysis of how mobile technologies can be used to effectively support learning becomes expedient. Since the world is going mobile, that is, mobile phones, computers and media devices capable of connecting everyone to a variety of information sources now fit in the pockets, there is a considerable interest in exploiting the almost universal appeal and abundance of these technologies for their educational use (Futurelab 2010). Futurelab also point out the most salient issues:


So many examples of learning with mobile technologies fit in to the meaning and general description of a mobile device that is portable and personal. Personal Digital Assistants are the most commonly used technologies for mobile learning but they exist within the larger space of possible mobile technology categorization Personal versus Shared and Portable versus Static. Futurelab reveals six broad theory-based categories of activity:

Behaviourist- activities that promote learning as a change in learners' observable actions. In this paradigm, learning is thought to be best facilitated through the reinforcement of an association between a particular stimulus and a response. In respect to the educational technology, computer aided learning is the presentation of a problem (stimulus) followed by the contribution on the part of the learner of the solution (response). The system feedback then provides the reinforcement.

Constructive - activities in which learners actively construct new ideas or concept based on both their previous and current approach. Here, learning is an active process in which learners construct new ideas or concepts based on both their current or past knowledge. Learners are encouraged to be the active constructors of knowledge with mobile devices now embedding them in a realistic context at the same time offering access to supporting tools. The most compelling examples in this case is termed participatory simulations where the learners themselves act the key parts in an immersive recreation of a dynamic system. An example include the virus game ( Collella 2000 cited in Futurelab 2010).

Situated - activities that promote learning within an authentic context and culture. Mobile devices are well suited to context-aware applications simply because they are available in different contexts and so can be drawn on those contexts to enhance learning activity. The museum and gallery sector has been on the forefront of this by providing additional information about exhibits and displays based on the visitor's location within them.

Informal and lifelong - refers to activities that support learning outside a dedicated learning environment and formal curriculum. Research based on this recognises that learning happens all the time and is influenced both by the environment and personal situations. Informal learning could be intentional or deliberate and it could also be accidental by acquiring information through the media, conversation, television and newspapers and so on.

Collaborative - refers to activities that promote learning through social ineteraction. This has sprung out from research on computer supported collaborative work and learning which is based on social interactions in the process of learning. Learning and teaching Support - activities that assist in the coordination of learners and resources for learning activities. Coordination of learners include the use of mobile devices by teachers for attendance reporting, reviewing student marks, general access of school data and the effective management of schedules. In the higher education sector, mobile devices can provide course materials to students including dates for assignments and information about room changes and timetable (2009).


Mobile learning usually comes to mind as electronic learning on small form factor devices. The potential the mobile technology holds as regards supporting and being used for learning is much more than delivering courses or parts of courses. This emergence can be termed knowledge on the go, or knowledge in the hand, or mobile knowledge. It includes the use of mobile or handheld devices to:

  • deliver education or learning,
  • foster communications/collaborations
  • Conduct assessments/evaluations
  • Provide access to performance support/knowledge (Masie 2010).


The summary of the survey conducted into current mobile learning practices and future plans and desires across the learning will reflect:

  • The percentage of respondents currently deploying some mobile learning in their organization
  • The percentage of the most common transactions on a mobile device ranging from making and receiving calls, e-mails, text messages, podcasts, word processing and so on.
  • Percentage of respondents who use in-house resources to develop mobile learning.
  • Percentage of mobile learning initiatives funded by a training department
  • Percentage of organizations that supply mobile devices to their employees
  • Percentage of organizations supporting the use of personal devices for mobile learning.


Although there were a few initial initiatives using the Apple Newton in learning, it was not until 1996 and the release of the Palm Pilot and its instant access that many researchers got excited about the potential use of mobile devices in learning. Small pilots took place, mainly in the K-12 space and thousands of applications have been created during the past ten years. Windows Mobile devices gained market share in 2000 and have been challenged by the RIM

BlackBerry in the corporate and government sector. Now that instant communications are available through cellular and/or wireless networks, a whole new world of opportunities for mobile learning has opened. The iPhone has also demonstrated a great user experience and has thus raised the bar for others. In many cases, mobile access may be the first choice of learners (Masie 2010).


According to market research conducted by Ambient Insight, LLC., it is estimated that "corporate and business expenditures for mobile learning products and services in the US alone will reach $246.9 million by 2011." Their research indicates that the largest demand throughout the forecast period is for custom development services, content conversion, and media services and that the healthcare sector accounts for 20% of the total US market for mobile learning. In their 2008-2013 US Market for Mobile Learning Products and Services report to be released later this summer, Ambient Insight expects to revise their mobile learning forecasts further upward. Several factors point to an increasing commitment to mobile learning which include the pace of corporate change.


With the mobile computing basics, their effective learning improvement in mind and working with existing tools and technologies available today, researchers need to explore future capabilities for accessing information and communication technology anytime, anywhere.


As hardware and networking applications play vital role in the implementation of mobile computing, they are necessary for the existence of m-Learning. As practitioners of mobile learning, the need to be assured in the use of these technologies arises. As technology continues to improve and innovations toward mobile learning expands; the key is to focus on the fact that the goal of m-Learning is to facilitate learning, no matter what form the delivery may take.


  • Collella (2000) the virus game cited in Literature Review in Mobile Technologies and Learning [online] available at <> [10th January 2010).
  • Masie, E., (2010) Learning Consortium Perspectives Mobile Learning Update [online] available from <> [1st January, 2010].
  • Futurelab (2010) Literature Review in Mobile Technologies and Learning [online] available at <> [10th January 2010].
  • Kossen, J.S., (2010) 'Mobile e-learning'. When e-learning becomes m-learning. [online] available from <> [11th January 2010].
  • Smith, P. (ed.) (2009) 'Contemporary Perspectives in E-learning Research: Themes, Methods and Impact on Practice'. Quality Assurance in Education. 17(3) 318 [online] available from <$$.002.html> [10th January 2010].
  • The London Mobile Learning Group (2009) Researching Mobile Learning [online] available from <> [16th December 2009]
  • Turban, E., Mclean,E., Wetherbe, J. (2002) "Information Technology for Management: Transforming business in the digital economy". 3rd edn. New York: John Wiley and Sons,Inc.
  • Turban, E., Leidner, D., Mclean, E., Wetherbe, J., (2006) Information Technology for Management: Transforming organizations in the digital economy". 5th edn. New Jersey: John Wiley and Sons,Inc.

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