JISC Mobile and Wireless Technologies Review

Table of Contents
A review undertaken for the JISC e-Learning Programme by JISC infoNet
There are 77 comments in this document

0.i. About (0)
0.ii. Acknowledgements (0)
0.iii. Interviewees (0)
1.i. Executive Summary: Scope (0)
1.ii. Executive Summary: Approach / methodology (0)
1.iii. Executive Summary: Principal findings (8)
2.i. Outline and Scope: Introduction (2)
2.ii. Outline and Scope: What is ‘mobile learning’? (6)
2.iii. Outline and Scope: Mobile and wireless overview (2)
3.i. Contexts and Rationale: Introduction (0)
3.ii. Contexts and Rationale: European context (5)
3.iii. Contexts and Rationale: Research context (8)
3.iv. Contexts and Rationale: Pedagogical context (12)
4.i. Review of relevant JISC publications (4)
5.i. Discussion and recommendations (0)
5.ii. Discussion and Recommendations: Past 3 years (9)
5.iii. Discussion and Recommendations: Current practice (4)
5.iv. Discussion and Recommendations: International (0)
5.v. Discussion and Recommendations: Future / trends (4)
5.vi. Discussion and Recommendations: Access and support (0)
5.vii. Discussion and Recommendations: Staff competencies and training (8)
5.viii. Discussion and Recommendations: Cost / benefits (2)
6. Conclusion (2)
7. References (0)

This is the final version of a mobile and wireless review that was undertaken by Doug Belshaw of JISC infoNet for the JISC e-Learning programme in late 2010. It will inform an ‘innovative practice’ guide to be published in 2011 alongside a mobile learning infoKit.

A (slightly) shorter, but potentially easier-to-remember link for this mobile review is http://bit.ly/jiscmobilereview and information collated during the research stage is available at the JISC Advance On The Horizon wiki.

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Last updated: 29 November 2010

Introduction This is the final version of a mobile and wireless review that was undertaken by Doug Belshaw of JISC infoNet for the JISC e-Learning programme. It will inform an ‘innovative practice’ guide to be published in 2011 alongside a mobile learning infoKit. A (slightly) shorter, but potentially easier-to-remember link for this mobile review is http://bit.ly/jiscmobilereview and information collated during the research stage is available at the JISC Advance On The Horizon wiki. O […]

The author would like to extend his gratitude to Sarah Knight for commissioning this review and accepting the rather larger-than-expected output, Patrick Bellis at JISC infoNet for encouraging flexible working practices, and Joss Winn and Andy McGregor for their help in hosting both the draft and final versions of this review at http://mobilereview.jiscpress.org. Given the importance of ‘context’ and ‘affordances’ highlighted in this review, the following should be noted. The review was res […]

The following people kindly agreed to be interviewed for the purposes of this review: Black, Andy (Becta) Book, Chris (CEO, Bardowl) Clay, James (Gloucestershire College, MoLeNet) Cook, John (Professor of Technology Enhanced Learning, Learning Technologies Research Institute) Ellis, Mike (EduServ) FitzGerald, Elizabeth (Nottingham LSRI) Hall, Richard (De Montfort University) Hillicks, Janette (JISC infoNet) Hume, Tom (Managing Director, Future Platforms) Jukes, Matt (Open U […]

This review has been commissioned by JISC to review the literature on the use of mobile and wireless technologies for learning and teaching in UK further and higher education. It shall inform the development of a new ‘Innovative Practice’ publication to build upon earlier e-Learning publications (www.elearning.ac.uk/innoprac & www.jisc.ac.uk/publications/programmerelated/2006/pub_innovativepe). Practice from the past three years, current practice, future trends and opportunities, an […]

Previous JISC publications and resources were used as a starting point for this review, in addition to interviews with leading researchers and practitioners in the field, performed via telephone, email and videoconference. These individuals recommended other publications and individuals with relevant experience, knowledge and insight. Most of the latter also agreed to be interviewed. The focus of the interviews and discussions was upon the past three years in the mobile and wireless technologies […]

Both interviewees and the literature reflected ‘silos’ of research and practice in the mobile and wireless technologies landscape. These can be defined, broadly, as: Technocentric (technology for technology’s sake) e-Learning related (mobile as part of the wider picture) Augmentation of formal processes Learner-centred Whilst there is nominal referencing of academic literature by practitioners there is a reasonably clear demarcation between the two. It is clear that some proje […]

This review was carried out at a time of unprecedented public sector cuts and in the toughest economic climate for over 70 years. Whilst institutions will inevitably look towards technology as a cost-saving measure it is important to remember: (i) that any major change management process should prioritise pedagogy, and (ii) that such processes will inevitably involve an upfront cost. Despite this, a move towards the use of student-owned technologies for learning can and will save institutions mo […]

What is ‘mobile learning’? Despite over ten years of research into mobile and wireless technologies and numerous projects, the concept of what comes under its auspices remains problematic. Advocates are keen to point out that ‘m-learning’ is not simply an impoverished version of ‘e-learning’. As Traxler (2007, p.14) puts it, ‘mobile’ is not a qualifying adjective but instead a whole new approach to learning: “just-in-time, just enough, and just-for-me”. This leaves those i […]

There are, at the last estimate by Mike Short, Vice-President of Telefonica Europe, currently 82 million mobile phones in the UK (a penetration rate of 130%). This is due not only to the phenomenon of many people having both work and personal mobile phones, but the increasing use of specialist mobile phones in certain sectors and machine-to-machine communication by devices such as ‘smart meters’. Mobile devices are changing societal discourse and knowledge (Traxler, 2007, p.10), providing […]

This section analyses the contexts within which UK educational institutions have (and will) initiate mobile learning initiatives. ‘Context’ as defined by Brown (2010, p.7) is: “the formal or informal setting in which a situation occurs; it can include many aspects or dimensions, such as environment, social activity, goals or tasks of groups and individuals; time (year/month/day).” More specifically in the mobile learning research, ‘context’ is used to the context of learning, sup […]

The MOBIlearn project (www.mobilearn.org), which ran from July 2002 to March 2005, was the first European large-scale mobile learning project. The 33-month project included organisations from nine European countries as well as the USA and Australia and focused upon education outside the traditional classroom. Thirteen work packages were identified with the focus being upon basic skills and workplace learning (Kukulska-Hulme, et al., 2010). With partners including Nokia, Compaq, Deutsche Telec […]

Trends come and go in all disciplines and mobile learning research is no different. Recent work has talked of learning ‘in’ and ‘across’ contexts with these contexts being ‘learner-generated’ (Cochrane, 2010) and intentional ‘Communities of Practice’ models being adopted. The focus of current research is upon the learner rather than the device, with Norbert Pachler, for example, talking of the importance of ‘appropriation’ as a way of linking curricular practices with the […]

Used effectively, mobile devices can help change and refocus pedagogies. Unlike interactive whiteboards, which perpetuate a ‘stand-and-deliver’, transmission model of education, the affordances of even commonplace mobile devices allow for a transformation in learning activities. This ‘pedagogic shift’ has a decidedly social element. Whilst learning remains an individual activity, the context in which it happens is, and always has been, based around ‘conversations’, loosely defined […]

JISC has long been an advocate of mobile learning, funding numerous research projects and producing reports and guides synthesising good and emerging practice. Notable high-level guides relevant to mobile and wireless technologies include: Effective Assessment in a Digital Age (2010) – www.jisc.ac.uk/assessment.html Effective Practice in a Digital Age (2009) – www.jisc.ac.uk/publications/programmerelated/2009/effectivepracticedigitalage Responding to Learners pack (2009) – www.jisc.ac.u […]

This section outlines the current state of play of developments in the mobile learning arena, some ‘good’ practice from the past three years, international comparisons, a look to the future and trends. The status of mobile learning in relation to access and support, staff development and cost/benefit considerations is also discussed.

As mentioned in an earlier section, with the overwhelming ubiquity of smartphones and the emphasis on mobile ‘apps’ it is easy to forget that the first Apple iPhone was launched in the UK as recently as November 2007. At that time Twitter was not widely known or used, Facebook was not ubiquitous, and YouTube had only just launched a UK version of its video-sharing site. The confluence of affordances that hardware, software and social acceptance can lead to a ‘perfect storm’ of accepta […]

Given the highly contextualised nature of mobile technologies, it is difficult to point to examples of ‘best’ – or even ‘good’ practice. As Richard Hall explains: “I struggle with the use of the term “good”. However, practice that I feel is appropriate, or good enough, in its own context is based around curriculum reinvention, and the role of student as producer. Personal technologies enable students to produce/share their curriculum, their learning experiences, their own con […]

According to a recent UN report, current figures for mobile phone adoption are over 100 per cent for developing countries. Perhaps more surprising is that penetration stands at 58 subscriptions per 100 people in the developing world, spawning micro-enterprises (Reuters, 2010) As alluded to in previous sections it is the context and existing infrastructure around innovations and technologies that define use. In developing countries, without existing copper cabling – whether due to lack of fund […]

A problem for any institution wanting to develop a policy or strategy in relation to mobile learning is its seemingly ever-changing nature. As Gary Woodill puts it in the introduction to The Mobile Learning Edge (2010, p.xiv): “Unfortunately, mobile learning (and mobile computing in general) is in a state of constant flux with new developments appearing on a weekly basis. If you plan to undertake a comprehensive strategic initiative to use mobile learning in your business, you need to develop a […]

Accessibility is not merely a ‘bolt-on’, something to be considered afterwards as a way that ‘non-mainstream’ learners can access the same content as ‘mainstream’ learners. In the context of this report, accessibility refers to personalising the digital element of the blended world that students (increasingly) inhabit. Indeed, for some learners, their mobile device is almost a physical appendage. The term ‘nomophobia’ is a relatively new term that indicates the seminal importa […]

Mobile learning initiatives are inherently cross-institution (or ‘across-the-grain’) in their scope and impact (Woodill, 2011, p.130). Even those that begin as small-scale projects or initiatives inevitably grow, if successful, and spawn imitations. As it is not subject-specific, mobile learning is best thought of as a multi-sensorial improver of communications (Nyíri, quoted in Bradley, 2010, p.158). As a result, designing authentic, engaging and useful mobile learning situations and co […]

“There are a variety of problem associated with evaluating mobile learning. Perhaps the most fundamental is the problem of defining the characteristics of a “good” or acceptable evaluation.” (Traxler, 2007, p.19) Not only, as John Traxler points out, are mobile learning initiatives difficult to even begin to evaluate, but as work by Becta (http://becta.org.uk) demonstrated, ROI can be difficult to prove. However, ROI is never the whole picture as, even if they are calculated in a conscienti […]

The main barriers to the adoption of mobile learning in UK Further and Higher Education institutions are not technical but social (Sharples, 2010, p.4). There exists a fundamental tension between economic ‘best practice’ and pedagogic ‘best practice’ making strategy in this area difficult. However, as John Traxler (2007, p.21) explains, the road to widespread adoption it is ‘messier’ than simply solving this tension: “Mobile education, however innovative, technically feasible, and […]

Ambient Insight (2010) ‘Ambient Insight Reports Strong US Mobile Learning Market’ (available online at http://www.ambientinsight.com/News/Ambient-Insight-Mobile-Learning-Report-Released.aspx, accessed 18 November 2010) Becta (2009) ‘Narrowing the gap: An exploration of the ways technology can support approaches to narrowing the gap for underachieving and low-achieving learners in secondary schools’ (available online at: http://partners.becta.org.uk/upload-dir/downloads/page_document […]