Practical Applications of Research: Mobile Learning – if you build it, will they come? And stay? And love it? Part 2 of 2.
by Irene T. Boland, PhD
See part 1
Interactive Mobile Learning
The next study, conducted in 2010, examined learner performance and acceptance of a mobile learning tool built for independent and cooperative learning. These researchers (Chen and Huang) broke their participants into two groups – one group who would receive only traditional instruction and another group who also has the option to use the mobile learning resources and interactions to try to isolate the benefits or effects of the mobile learning. To avoid the control group feeling disadvantaged (by not using the mobile learning), they were not informed that the experiment was taking place. Chen and Huang tested learner experience (experimental group = greater than 120 undergraduate education majors in Taiwan) with the mobile learning on either a laptop or a mobile phone.
Three dimensions of mobile learning experience
The researchers examined the learner experience using a framework of three dimensions: interaction, learner and connectivity. In the interaction dimension the goals are to improve learner knowledge, increase motivation to learn and offer a variety of means of learning the information. This is done through teaching concepts (illustrative lecture), simulations (practice) and case studies. They found that if learners were able to communicate with the teacher and each other – their motivation to continue using the mobile learning.
The information about learner dimension indicated that the researchers were able to look at profile data of learners (age, gender, course performance and other data) and relate it to their learning style preferences. Although there was no further explanation of this claim – it was an interesting idea.
The connectivity dimension is about whether the mobile learning provides both real-time synchronous interaction between learners and also asynchronous interaction.
Interactions in the mobile learning
The mobile learning experience used in the experiment enables these types of interactions for learners: acquire knowledge, store knowledge, share with others and collaborate on collective knowledge, co-create new knowledge with peers.
How well did it work?
The first measures the researchers looked at compared the usability of the different screen sizes (laptop compared to mobile phone). By measuring the time needed to successfully complete tasks and total number of successfully completed tasks, they were able to determine that the larger screen size (laptop = 97% success rate) was much easier to use than the smaller phone size screen (52% success rate).
Next, the researchers compared the academic performance of learners in the experimental group (with the mobile learning) to the rest of the class (without the mobile learning). They found that the learners who experienced the mobile learning performed better on traditional measures such as exams.
Last, the learners opinions were surveyed for three criteria – did they think it was easy to use, useful and would they use it again? The researchers were able to show a causal relationship between learners perceptions that the system was easy to use – and therefore would be useful in helping them reach academic goals. They also found that what followed from that was a greater intention to continue to use the mobile learning in the future.
So, what do we do with this?
Principle 1: Build in as much interaction as learners will find useful; don’t use mobile learning as simple a content delivery mechanism.
Principle 2: Make the interface and content as user-friendly as possible.
Principle 3: Market your mobile project to your learners as something that will help them improve their learning and their connection with others in the organization.
Your turn – use the comments field below to share your views, questions and ideas on mobile learning.
Wang, Yi-Shun; Wu, Ming-Chengu; Wang, Hsui-Yuan. Investigating the determinants and age and gender differences in the acceptance of mobile learning.