Short Research Proposal- Role of Mobile Learning

Assessment Description
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1.1 Introduction
The use of mobile phones has rapidly increased in the past few decades, especially with the decrease in thier prices ensuring its easy availability. With its rising demand, there has been a rapid advancement in mobile technology in the past 20 years. Some of the technological developments include MMS, internet access, touch screens, handheld computers, wireless communications like infrared and bluetooth. In addition, information and record keeping and storage applications (like Microsoft office) have also been incorporated in the phones. With these developments, mobile use has proven to be a value addition tool in learning and education. According to researchers, the use of mobile devices supports teaching and science learning as it offers mobility and innovativeness which, in turn, helps in increasing the motivational level of students with distinct and engaging activities as opposed to conventional teaching methods and classroom activities. (Uzunbolylu & Ozdamli, 2011).
The term "mobile learning" has a wide range of definitions and conceptualizations. Mobile learning is a kind of learning that happens by using mobile technology without any time or geographic constraint. Mobility, connectivity and information accessibility at all times are the key features of m-learning, providing a flexible learning environment. (Yi et al, 2009; Laurillard & Pachler, 2007).
According to O' Malley et al. (2003), taking advantage of the learning opportunity provided by mobile technology resulting in any sort of learning is referred to as Mobile learning. Different viewpoints about mobile learning generally pertain to its technological aspect, considering the portability of devices and accessibility to information from virtually everywhere (Winters, 2006; Taylor, 2006). The literature explains these varied outlooks toward mobile learning but it is distinct in its focus on learning with no singly accepted implication or perspective (Sharples, 2006; Traxler, 2009). The most dubious viewpoint about mobile learning pertains to technology because of the continuous advancement and growth of mobile technology (Traxler, 2009).
Educational experience has been redefined with a constant increase in the use of mobile and wireless technology. Wireless networks and mobile communications coupled with personal computing devices present new means for science students to access information, research innovatively and communicate anytime and anywhere. There are certain shortcomings associated with m-learning which can distract students, for example, the battery life or screen size of device, a storage capacity and processing power limitation, but these shortcomings are negligible as compared to the advantages allied with e-learning and m-learning, expanding the boundaries of scientific education experience. However, the educational goal of using mobile learning in science is not to incorporate technology for technology's sake but to create a meaningful learning experience for students. Different mobile learning systems are introduced for this purpose. These learning systems may vary from one subject to another and may implement alternate applications accordingly.   
Various theories and research work on mobile learning helps in furnishing the key attributes and traits of mobile learning and illustrate its true meaning (Sharples et al., 2005-2006, Arnedillo-Scanchez et al., 2007, Jones et al., 2006). However, according to Traxler (2009), there is a need to spotlight the advantages associated with the use of mobile technology in education rather than focusing on the definition of mobile learning itself. Implementing the mobile learning in the higher education demands the addressing of different factors including cultural, social and organizational factors. The institutional issues are still to be discussed due to the fact that mobile learning is in its early phase of development and thus an immature field at present.
Quinn (2000) in his research describes that the concept of mobile learning is basically derived from mobile computing and e-learning. For this reason, the mobile learning is constantly focused so that it can be better leveraged for education and training. Different technologies have been derived that support mobile learning which include data protection, online communication and data transfer. The aim of this research is, therefore, to identify the value added by mobile technology in the field of education and further, to narrow down how it can be specifically beneficial for science students in higher education.
1.2 Definition of the Key Terms                               
Distance Learning: Distance learning is a name of new paradigm in the field of education which uses internet as the primary source of communication. The learning is computer based without the restriction of location of the learner. In this mode of learning, audio and video conferencing is utilized in order to have communication between the teacher and students. This concept is particularly useful in the developing countries, provided that the country has proper technology infrastructure in terms of  the internet and also easy availability of personal computers.
Distance learning can also be regarded as a process that connects the distributed learning resources with the learners (Schlosser and Simonson, 2009). The characteristic feature of this learning mode is the separation in location of the learner and the instructor or the learning resources. Besides computer and internet, paper media and print based programs are also a part of distance learning (Mantyla and Gividen, 1997). The use of distance education is very much evident, especially in order to increase global competitiveness and to remain cost effective from the learner’s perspective.
E-learning: E-learning or electronic learning is regarded as a combination of distance education and traditional learning. In this learning format, personal computer acts as a communicating tool and the discussion between the teacher and the student is interactive.  The environment of e-learning is multimedia based and media rich in nature. When compared to mobile learning, it is a more formal mode of learning. The e-learning can be classroom based with all students having the facility of computer and connectivity (Korucu and Alkan, 2011). It can also be converted into distance education which may result in reduced number of features and options.
Mobile Learning: O’Malley et al (2003) defined mobile learning as that learning routine when the learner is not a fixed and pre-determined location, using different mobile technologies. Kukulska-Hulme (2005) interprets mobile learning by associating it with the mobility of learner in a way that learners can have their educational activities without being tied to the requirement of the same physical location. Thus, with the help of wireless technology, the learners can communicate with one another in the educational perspective and can share their data via mobile devices.
Keegan (2001) defined mobile learning as a mode of learning which uses PDA’s, mobile phones and Pocket PC’s. Mobile learning has combined the features of e-learning with the mobile informatics, revealing a new notion of distance learning. The basic advantage of mobile learning over e-learning is the more easy approach of learners to the mobile devices making this mode of education more uniform and easy to access. Apart from this, students in mobile learning can demand information and data regardless of environment and time constraints.   
1.3 Problem Statement:
The research available on mobile learning is mostly related to the best practices for the development of mobile learning. This was helpful; however, this helps in a limited case for having the direction of future research. More research is still needed in comparing the effectiveness of the mobile devices for education purposes with the education system without any mobile device. Also, a very little amount of research has been carried out to study the challenges related with the adoption of mobile learning. Therefore, this research highlights those challenges and suggests an education model which could be adopted for the successful implementation of mobile learning.
1.4 Research Questions:
This research seeks to answer the following research questions:
  1. What are the benefits of integrating mobile technology learning into the teaching of computer science in universities?
  2. What are the barriers to successful integration of mobile learning into the teaching of computer science in universities?
  3. What are the tools and strategies needed to induct the mobile technology in the educational system of a University?
1.5 Aim of the Research:
Following are the aims of this research:
  • To explore the importance of mobile learning in the teaching of computer science in universities
  • To understand the challenges and obstacles in the way of successful implementation of mobile learning in universities
  • To evaluate strategies for the successful integration of mobile learning into university education

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