Mobile Learning

Mobile learning has been defined by Traxler, 2007, as the “the mobility of learners and the mobility of learning”.

Types of Mobile Learning

The various types of mobile learning currently being used or investigated at the University of Leicester involve one of the following approaches based on the dependence on, or freedom from, particular devices:

  • Device dependent, supplied: department wants to provide a specific device and therefore needs to know how to use it effectively and efficiently (possibly an app) as well as information on contacts, contracts, and financial implications for device purchase, delivery, and support.

  • Device dependent or independent, considering supplying one: department is not certain about which device to give students, but want to give them something and therefore need to know which one (e.g. tablet, ereader, laptop), how, and why.

  • Device independent, want students to use their own devices: department wishes to guide students to use their own devices for learning efficiently and effectively and therefore open to suggestions on how, where, why, and what the solution should be.

  • Device independent ebooks: department wishes to provide ebooks (epub, mobi, ibook, iTunesU, etc.) through VLE and/or other delivery method.

  • Device independent, Blackboard app: department wants to design for learning which primarily depends on the use of the Blackboard Mobile Learn app.

  • Device independent, other tools: department wants the learning to be of a ‘mobile-compatible’ design with no preference to the Blackboard Mobile Learn App.


The range of outcomes and the range of services and individuals required to ensure an effective and efficient delivery of a mobile learning programme is entirely dependent on the requirement of the pedagogy.

  • Is the provision for mobile learning due to the mobility of the student cohort?
  • Are students unable to access regular cellular or wireless Internet, thus requiring electronic resources provided through offline learning?
  • Are students accessing learning resources from mobile devices (as defined by Quinn, 2013 p.150, as the “criteria for mobile is … that the device is with you all the time.”) rather than from a ‘traditional’ computing environment (e.g. laptop)?
  • Do you have the necessary permission or copyright to make the resources available through different interfaces or mobile devices (offline access vs. online or library interface)?

Folley and Jabbar (2010) highlight the work of Kukulska-Hulme & Traxler (2005) and their definition of mobile learning that is bounded by technologies that are “both changing and developing”, and that we need to be flexible in not only our approach to the technology, but also how we utilise and implement it. Traxler also highlights the different interpretation of the terms used when discussion ‘mobile’ learning or ‘mobile’ learners – are we referring to the concept of mobile learning “in terms of devices and technologies” or in terms of “the mobility of learners and the mobility of learning” (Traxler, 2007)?

Case Studies

Device dependent, supplied: Education is investigating the options to supply a Kindle, Kindle Fire, or Tesco Hudl, to students on Masters Educational Leadership course. They would also supply Amazon gift vouchers. Students would buy and download recommended reading (all available from Amazon).
Dr Alison Fox, School of Education

Device independent, ebooks: To reduce volume and cost of printed and postal materials to DL students, Management are making course readings available as ‘epub’ and ‘pdf’ files making them available through Bb for students to load to their own devices.
Jeremy Turner, Department of Management

Device dependent, supplied: Development and delivery of course specific iPad app through the App Store for their Security, Conflict, and International Development (SCID) masters students, who live or work in conflict zones.
Prof Adrian Beck, Department of Criminology

Device independent and dependent, supplied: Students on the DL Masters in International Education course are provided with an iPad, with all materials written by Dr Wood and loaded to Bb. Materials then copied into device dependent iBook along with supporting video/audio clips. iBooks distributed through iTunesU course due to large +500mb file size. The book is also distributed on Blackboard as a pdf, and thus can be used on almost any device.
Dr Phil Wood, School of Education

Device independent and dependent, not supplied: Manufacturing Pasts project team presented multimedia rich content through an iTunes U course for a project designed to enhance the learning and teaching of British industrial history during the second half of the twentieth century. The materials are also available on the project website, in a variety of ebook formats, so that any device can be used.
Terese Bird, University of Leicester Library and Institute of Learning Innovation / JISC project

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