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Journal of Research on Technology in Education

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Mobile Learning in Education

Journal:

Manuscript Type:

Research Keywords:

Review

mobile technologies, social software, constructivism, cloud computing,


theory
Product/Program Evaluation, Literature Review
Technology

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Subject Matter Keywords:

UJRT-2014-0087

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Technology Keywords:

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Manuscript ID:

Journal of Research on Technology in Education

Elementary (grades 3-5), Middle School (grades 6-8), High School (grades
9-12), Adult/Informal Education, Early Learning (K - grade 2)

Abstract:

Mobile learning is a moving, growing entity with multiple components that


school leadership and educators need to be aware of to effectively
implement emerging technologies and keep up with new trends. As school
districts consider moving from traditional teaching and learning to
incorporating mobile technology, thorough research and planning is
required. This literature review aims to assist in supplying research and
trends in the key parts of a successful technology integration program.
Along with the decisions and protocol of purchasing the appropriate
hardware and software, a networked infrastructure must be established.
The foundation of cloud-computing and mobile learning management
systems must be in place in order to allow educators to challenge their
students using familiar technology and devices they already use in
everyday life to investigate their world in a more balanced way (Collins &
Halverson, 2009). Curriculum should include technology based objectives
using innovative pedagogical practices for implementation and educational
learning theories. Consideration for equitable learning for students with
disabilities must be taken into consideration when implementing mobile
learning using mobile devices. Trends in social software, gaming and
collaborative learning are explained to demonstrate the productivity that
can be accomplished as schools prepare students for the 21st century
workforce.

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Grade Level Keywords:

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Journal of Research on Technology in Education

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Journal of Research on Technology in Education

Running Head: MOBILE LEARNING IN EDUCATION

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Mobile Learning in Education

Linda Davis, Mark Drye, Michael Chapple, Cornelia Emery,

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Mary-Kate Hagedorn and Dolores Hinojosa

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Liberty University Online

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Mobile Learning in Education

Abstract

Mobile learning is a moving, growing entity with multiple components that school leadership

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and educators need to be aware of to effectively implement emerging technologies and keep up
with new trends. As school districts consider moving from traditional teaching and learning to
incorporating mobile technology, thorough research and planning is required. This literature

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review aims to assist in supplying research and trends in the key parts of a successful technology
integration program. Along with the decisions and protocol of purchasing the appropriate

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hardware and software, a networked infrastructure must be established. The foundation of cloudcomputing and mobile learning management systems must be in place in order to allow

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educators to challenge their students using familiar technology and devices they already use in

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everyday life to investigate their world in a more balanced way (Collins & Halverson, 2009).
Curriculum should include technology based objectives using innovative pedagogical practices

for implementation and educational learning theories. Consideration for equitable learning for

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students with disabilities must be taken into consideration when implementing mobile learning
using mobile devices. Trends in social software, gaming and collaborative learning are explained

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to demonstrate the productivity that can be accomplished as schools prepare students for the 21st
century workforce.

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Keywords: Social software, constructivism, socio-constructivism, blended learning, social collaboration,


connectivism, scaffolding, cloud computing, mobile learning, social media, mobile learner, mobile
technology, e-learning, cloud service, pubic cloud, private cloud, community cloud, hybrid cloud

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Method
Technology enables man to reach further and understand more than some just a few
decades ago could have imagined. Technology opened the door for exploration, entertainment,
and connecting the world. No longer do students learn solely using the chalkboard and textbook,

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but they manipulate information through the use of technology, experiencing, collaborating, and
learning like never before. Mobile learning (m-learning) is simply defined as learning across
environments, which may include mobile phones/smartphones, laptops, e-books, and tablets.
However, multiple views exist on how to best clarify mobile learning. Some focus on the device

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itself as the facilitator of learning, others on the students learning environment and experiences

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(Rismark &Solvberg, 2012).

The challenge for the educational system becomes how to provide the necessary

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tools for students to complete tasks and compete in a world that constantly uses technology to
better itself. From an institutional perspective, the digital world is emergent, evolving,

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embedded, fragmented, and a provisional social production, shaped by cultural and structural

forces as well as technical and economic ones (Orlikowski & Barley, 2001, p.154 ). While the

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task may seem daunting to a school facing a limited budget or lower income families whose
children cannot afford these technologies, accomplishment of the task can occur with careful

student diversity.

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planning and constant attention given to rising technological advances and consideration of

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Results
Mobile Learning Management and Cloud Computing
The literature review for Mobile Learning Management and Cloud Computing
begins with the research question Can learners achieve sufficient learning outcomes using

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mobile devices through cloud computing? The following questions guided the research: Can elearning benefit from multi-media Web resources? Is mobile learning (m-learning) just for higher
education? Can successful integration of m-learning occur at the K-12 education level? Are there
advantages and challenges to using mobile devices for m-learning?

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Literature suggests that e-learning can benefit from existing multi-media resources as

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long as it uses a well-defined knowledge framework as a standalone learning model. Mobile


devices offer the learner convenience of mobility; however, intrinsic constraints exist as screen

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size and resolution, storage limits, energy expenditure, software restrictions, bandwidth
limitations, and cost of communicating. Literature indicates these frameworks can create multi-

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media learning content using Web resources while adapting to the above constraints. These

authors intend to pursue future research in adaption of learner content to learner context using

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time, location, interest, and age for a more systemic model for delivering the correct content to
the correct learner in the correct context (Alzaabi, Berri, & Zemerly, 2010).

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Literature relating to mobile learning systems based on cloud computing indicates


that global cloud computing has become a multibillion dollar market and remains as one of the
top ten trends in the Information Technology (IT) industry. Literature predicts the average annual
growth of cloud services at 26% by 2018. Universities, institutions, and businesses realize for an
individual to successfully survive global competition and challenges in the workforce lifelong
learning must occur. Mobile learning through the cloud makes this easily possible as learners can

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learn anywhere, anytime (Chen, Ma, Liu, Jia, Ran, & Wang, 2013).
Services and management make up the architecture of cloud computing offered in a three-level
infrastructure; "infrastructure as a service (IaaS), platform as a service (PaaS), and software as a
service (SaaS)" (Chen et al., 2013, p. 2572). Literature suggests that learners enjoy the

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advantages of accumulative and successful learning resources, lower mobile device


requirements, a virtual learning environment, in-depth interaction, promotion of educational
equity, low carbon, low cost, learning anytime and anywhere, and improved learning competence
and motivation (Chen et al., 2013).

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The cloud computing platform offers management and course content in the cloud

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when the learner initiates the initial interface, placing him or her at the center of learning
promoting learner interest. This literature presents the platform as consisting of four modules;

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learning resources, course learning, system management, and learning community modules. The
learning resources module provides the learner with his or her learning content. The course

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learning module introduces the learner to his or her learning plan, objectives, and online

learning. The system management module provides security to the learner in his or her resources,

learners to communicate (Chen et al., 2013).

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billing, and course. The learning community module provides a place for parents, teachers, and

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According to Collins and Halverson (2009), in Rethinking Education in the Age of


Technology: The Digital Revolution and Schooling in America in their investigation of
technology use in American K-12 schools they perceive that a new central learning platform will
develop in adult education, online learning, and learning centers. This literature equates mlearning as the direct opposite of classroom-based learning. The authors take the view that
Americas children obtain a bulk of their knowledge while outside the classroom; therefore, the

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only logical thing to do is to bring this familiar technology and devices into the classroom. The
literature suggests the instructor can then challenge his or her students to investigate the world
they live in. The authors believe gains and losses will occur from this educational technology
revolution. They believe in lifelong learning as well as the learner having control of his or her

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learning, which promotes m-learning (Collins & Halverson, 2009).


On the same token these revolutionary technologies have left their mark on higher
education. The definition of m-learning consists of the ability for the learner to learn while using
wireless technology on pocket size handheld mobile devices where transmission signal

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availability occurs allowing these devices freedom from the confinement of the lecture hall or

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classroom in a particular location or area. Young adults believe attachment to their mobile
devices is essential; therefore, using this mode of learning only makes good sense for higher

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education institutions. Literature suggests that using mobile learning opens up the minds of
learners to a new way of thinking, communicating, reacting, and learning. This mode of delivery

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takes advantage of the Internet as a convenient portable education using new processes for

receiving and writing information as well as a new way to transmit video clips. This literature

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agrees with the other articles in the challenges and advantages of using m-learning. In addition,
the literature points out similar features to other studies as providing enhancement of

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accessibility and availability to information networks, engagement of students in various areas


through learning related activities, project-based groups, improvement of collaboration and
communication, and enablement of quick content delivery. The literature supports the many
aforementioned challenges. This m-learning model views "mobility in three areas; mobility of
technology, mobility of learner, and mobility of learning" (El-Hussein & Cronje, 2010, p. 17).
However, mobility constraints may consist of insufficient wireless technology in mountainous

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areas or areas of the world that do not have WiFi accessibility. Further research is needed
regarding these issues (El-Hussein & Cronje, 2010).
Research of Information and Communication Technology devices discovered in
February of this year uncover the following facts as 1.3 billion mobile phones exist in the

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market, in 2011 55 million tablets were sold versus 409 million PCs, young adults under 34
years-old stay connected socially and to the Internet using these devices, and 69% of Web traffic
involves video delivery every day. In addition, Apple and Android enjoy 73% of mobile phone
browsing, games are the fastest growing application, and employees want the same experiences

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at work as they enjoy at home. A new trend consists of 28% of smartphone owners access the

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Internet using these devices. New growth includes just-in-time learning, job aids, surveys,
testing, contextual learning, social networked m-learning, location-based learning, m-learning

mobile contests (Velev, 2014).

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using bidirectional SMS messaging, educational gaming, mobile voting, mobile storage, and

The newest technology aiding in mobile education involves collaboration through

social media, cloud computing, and the integration of smaller Internet-capable devices so

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students can remotely learn from anywhere. The literature presents this possibility because of the
advent of social networking services (SNS) providing connectivity and interactivity among

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learners. Literature investigates how these sites can provide greater collaboration for students
and teachers in the online environment using mobile devices (Velev, 2014).

Researchers view cloud computing as an on-demand service that utilizes


virtualization and distribution of computing technologies online via Web browsers allowing
immediate accessibility of software and stored data from other servers in the cloud.
Implementation of this on-demand service for deployments consists of public, private,

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community, and hybrid cloud using servers and applications to provide online data and backup.
Literature suggests using this form of technology for m-learning presents some unique
challenges, such as variability among devices, limited Internet accessibility, slow download
speeds, poor resolution, small screens, limited memory, and difficulty inputting data. The largest

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challenge for developers presents as the ability to create applications that fit most mobile devices
with cross-platform capability (Velev, 2014).
However, many advantages do exist for using mobile devices, such as data
processing and storage occurring outside the device with information displaying on the device

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screen or through its speakers. Other advantages consist of easy accessibility of backend business

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applications, applications capable of reaching large audiences, and applications that run in the
cloud provide greater security because using these devices make them part of the clouds

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centralized security (Velev, 2014).

The latest trend of using these devices in the cloud makes faster delivery and

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development of services, lower cost using seamless delivery services, guarantees delivery of

email and critical applications, and allows social collaboration through wikis, blogs, social

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documentation, and file sharing. Cloud computings immediate scalability streamlines learning
delivery by providing autonomy to the learner and the learning organization. A huge advantage

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exists in cloud computing as it requires no information technology help since it needs no


modifications, updates, or implementation to its delivery platform. Research finds using an opensource environment provides enrichment of the applications through diverse learning content
with learner achievement occurring in multiple locations using stored and accessed data in the
cloud. The literature points out accessibility of learning from various locations significantly
decreases the risk of system failure. This network provides on-demand learning of content and

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instructor availability globally. Utilization of cloud computing for mobile learning must provide
data security, accessibility, and confidentiality by providing specifications for preserving and
producing requested data. Careful consideration of encryption along with crisis management
with appropriate organizational, technical, and procedure measurement must occur (Velev,

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2014).

The literature in this review answers the questions as follows: Yes, learners can
achieve sufficient learning outcomes while using mobile devices through cloud computing. Elearning can benefit from using multi-media Web resources, utilizing m-learning in both higher

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education and K-12 learning settings as well as provide advantages and challenges when using

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mobile devices for m-learning.

Mobile Learning Software: Evaluating, Purchasing, and Implementing

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Criteria of Evaluation

As more school districts make the decision to move from traditional teaching and

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learning to incorporate technology, the need for software and equipment has increased. Picciano

(2011) presented the major criteria for evaluating hardware and software and examined issues

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associated with hardware and software evaluation and acquisition. He focused on (a) hardware
(b) software (c) performance. Site visits or field test should be a part of every major acquisition,

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particularly when purchasing new models (Picciano, 2011, p.190). Picciano dedicated one
chapter in the book on setting criteria to evaluate hardware purchased by a district. Picciano
explains the following as factors to consider when completing a hardware evaluation:
performance, compatibility, modularity/expandability, ergonomics, software availability, vendor,
and cost.
The most important process for technology leaders, when evaluating software comes

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down to cost. According to Picciano (2011), the total cost of ownership takes into consideration
not just the purchase price but also maintenance, upgrade, and support cost. The chapter
provided a case study where a school district needed to make a decision on purchasing a CMS
for credit recovery for an online course. The district faced evaluating the cost of software, as well

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as the overall needs for managing the CMS along with the quality of the courses provided to the
students. The case study provided the opportunity to use all of the evaluation resources to take
into account for software as well as hardware for guidelines given by Picciano. Picciano brings a
focus to the ability to expand the technology after the purchase. Also, the plan of replacement

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and upgrading of technology ranging from components to large-scale software.

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Ling, Harnish, and Shehab (2012) focused on the effect of application design on
learning. The research consisted of 26 participants, 15 men and 11 women. The produced

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hypothesis developed from the thought, For a mobile app to be an effective learning tool, it
must impart knowledge to facilitate learners understanding via interactions designed in the app

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(Ling, Harnish, & Shehab, 2012, p. 534). The selected interactive application provided feedback

to the user. The participants were split into two groups, the control and application group, both

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lecture type. The measure of effectiveness came through a t-test that evaluated the mean of the
quiz scores. The quiz consisted of questions on Blooms taxonomy, three lower levels with a

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total of 14 questions. A review of the results revealed the application-based group outperformed
the control group on the quiz. The researchers believed the better performance by the
application-based group resulted from the interactive form of learning of the application. By
giving the application users the ability to actively touch and swipe the screen it gave them a
hands on approach and more effectively engaged the students. The application also produced a
change in learning style for those users compared to the controlled group. This process provided

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necessary testing for hands on evaluation of mobile applications and it also showed the impact it
can have on students achievement.
Fitting the Curriculum
As technology use in education continues, a steady need increases to transition from

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brick and mortar curriculum to one that will fit the needs of mobile learning and technology. One
of the most important pieces of curriculum in education involves assessment. According to
Pellegrino & Quellmalz (2010), research and learning technology created the ability to have
adaptive testing, give immediate feedback for teachers as well as students, and also meet

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accommodation needs for special education students.

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Changing the view of curriculum changes the delivery of the information and
assessments. Keengwe & Schnellert (2012) indicate in addition to schools updating curriculums

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they must recognize the power in digital devices to engage, enable, and empower learners. The
article pushes for ways to adopt mobile phones, which engage learners in education. The authors

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of the article considered the following topics: millennials, mobile phones, challenges for using

mobile phones, opportunities for using mobile phones, and implications. The article refers to

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students during this time period as millennials. One hazardous factor of schools embracing
mobile devices results in the level of cheating that could occur. They note cheating has occurred

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in schools for years. Today many students do not view cheating as a bad thing. The use of mobile
phones in education also presents security issues. Mobile phone use in a school setting would
require teaching phone etiquette to educate students on the proper use of a cell phone while
completing an assignment. The main push for using technology and adapting the curriculum
involves the implementation process. The best practice involves a practical application from
leadership in the district.

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Winslow, Dickerson, Lee, & Geer (2012) conducted an evaluation of an iPad rollout
to the administration of a district to find out if it would create improved workflow, efficiencies,
and promote technology leadership self-efficacy. The evaluation involved school district leaders
interested in incorporating iPad usage and its effect on their daily workflow. The evaluations

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were based on the following questions: (a) What professional school administrator tasks are
improved by using iPads? (b) Does iPad utilization increase administrator perceptions of
technology leadership self-efficacy? (c) Given the current budget climate, do school
administrators perceive iPads as worthwhile investments? One of the main reasons given in the

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journal for the evaluation involved the ability for administrators to use technology for the large

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amounts of data required for them to view. According to the article, the data consisted of 37
active principals completing the survey producing a 69% response rate. Notable findings in the

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surveys yielded 100% of the principals who participated agreed the use of iPads added
improvement for performing teacher evaluation walkthroughs. Survey results showed a positive

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reaction from the principals believing their iPad use helped improve their images as technology

competent. The final results revealed using the iPads created a positive impact on the principals

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participating in the survey as well as facilitating the future use of technology in school districts.
The importance of the technology use was considered a wise budget decision.

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Learning Theories in Mobile Learning

As school districts consider restructuring their educational objectives towards mobile


learning, several foundational learning theories should be present in the instructional design.
Mobile learning occurs primarily as hands-on learning. As a result, constructivism becomes one
of the most appropriate educational theories to align with this learning. Secondly, an educational
environment at any level can benefit from social collaboration with mobile learning. Lastly, the

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emerging learning theory of connectivism takes into account that todays learners primary source
of information and knowledge are retrieved through a quick Web search. Each educational
theory presents important characteristics that blend well into the new educational technology era.

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Constructivism in Mobile Learning


The foundations of constructivism originated with the Swiss psychologist Jean Piaget. Piaget
built his research on the concept that children learn through actions. Concepts are collected with
the experiences and the developmental phase of the child (Slavin, 2012). In the process, their

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ideas gain in complexity and power, and with appropriate support, children can develop insight

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into their own thinking processes (Ferguson, 2001, p. 47). Mobile technology devices become
powerful tools for students to use in combination with the constructivist theory. Curriculum

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coordinators should consider technology integration as an integral part of their school district's
goals. Highly effective teachers will strive to incorporate mobile learning activities with age and

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developmentally appropriate technologies. Increased technology use proves to connect the

curriculum with real life applications. These active learning approaches are decidedly more

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student-centered, allowing learners to take control of how they engage with a subject and to
brainstorm and implement solutions to pressing local and global problems (Johnson, Adams

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Becker, Estrada, & Freeman, 2014, p. 8). The socio-constructivist theory broadens
constructivism to include cultural beliefs and values into learning. This theory emphasizes that
students acquire knowledge from social activities, rather than individually. Each individual
shares his or her knowledge, culture, and beliefs to direct awareness and interpretation of a new
situation and information (Nguyen, 2013). Allowing students with diverse backgrounds and
levels of prior knowledge as well as experiences to explore an educational task together can

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generate discussion and produce work that empowers students.

Trends in Constructivism and Mobile Learning


In the constructivist model, students are self-directed to complete project-based and

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inquiry-based learning as well as WebQuest type activities. Teachers often act as facilitators that
establish scaffolding techniques such as asking questions, providing clues and connections to
prior knowledge. In a pilot program with mobile devices, teachers used iPods to create and
integrate podcast for students into existing curriculum. The iPod was chosen since it was a less

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expensive and versatile tool (Keengwe, Pearson, & Smart, 2009). Appropriately integrated into

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the curriculum, mobile technologies can enhance teaching effectiveness as well as promote
student learning (Keengwe, et al., 2009, p. 336). Research showed teachers believed podcast

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creation was simple, classroom students became excited to listen and create their own podcast,
and the iPod was a useful tool for differentiated instruction. Simple innovative devices such as

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iPods can greatly influence a students learning, collaboration with peers, and motivation for

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Social Collaboration in Mobile Learning

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Whether residential, online, elementary, secondary, or higher education ignoring the


importance of social collaboration and mobile devices cannot occur. Students of the 21st century
spend their time, in and out of the classroom, on mobile devices. The distinction between online
and offline or plugged and unplugged becomes blurred as this generation of users no longer has
an online or offline time due to mobile devices (Ahuja, 2013). Educators must take into account
the out of classroom trends and tendencies of students to facilitate and teach in a manner that

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benefits students.
Educators experience the challenge of integrating collaborative and social learning practices with
students assuming they have prior technology knowledge and experiences. An important aspect
of collaborative, active mobile learning relies on social software. Social software uses group

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interaction to create and publish new material. Learning activities on laptops, tablets, or
smartphones need to be balanced with a traditional learning environment. The establishment of
blended learning resulted from the combination of the traditional face-to-face situation and
asynchronous text-based Internet. From primary to higher education levels, mobile learning

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presents simple drill-and-practice activities to collaborative problem-based activities. Classroom

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teachers may hesitate to embrace this approach but may identify online learning environments as
a way to provide a new layer to established learning. This perspective should help to relieve

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teachers from the pressure of starting from scratch when integrating mobile technologies
(Vesisenaho, Valtonen, Kukkonen, Havu-Nuutinen, Hartikainen, & Karkainen, 2010).

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Trends in Social Collaboration and Mobile Learning

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Social collaboration became more pertinent in the last few decades with the
emergence of Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, and similar programs. These programs

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importance and integration into education cannot be denied. Educators face the challenge of
deciding which social software to purchase and how to integrate it into the curriculum
effectively. Studies show that true learning occurs when all participants, students and teachers,
experience the opportunity of collaborating in the knowledge building process. Therefore, it
necessitates certain applications and programs for mobile devices to be used effectively in the
educational setting. However, for the most part, the use of these devices involves transmitting

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information rather than actively engaging learners in the learning process. For example, mobile
phones are mainly used to send short messages in texts, twitter, etc. for quizzes or to relay
classroom information. Class Dojo and similar programs provide ways for students to view
reports as well as provide the opportunity for student-to-student, student-to-teacher, and even

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teacher-to-parent communication; however, the program devices and applications are not fully
utilized to their full potential. With social collaboration becoming more prevalent with the
emergence of Facebook, educators would do well to utilize the mobile technologies available to
them in a way that promotes social constructivist theories for learning. In a study done at

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University of Texas, by professor Orlando Kelm, findings showed that students given the

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opportunity to utilize social media via blogs, online photo databases, and YouTube channels
became actively engaged in the material. The study came to the conclusion that we can learn

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much from observing how young people use technology (Kelm, 2011, p.15). Social media and
collaboration implemented effectively in education and mobile devices can facilitate learning.

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Research reveals social software can record students' notes during a lecture environment using

the micro-blog Qaiku on mini laptops (Vesisenaho, et al., 2010). The students posted notes from

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the lecture in a live, shared format. This blended learning provided feedback for both the
students and the teacher. Despite the introduction to the Qaiku software, students reported that

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they would prefer to take notes in a format that included the lecture slides displayed through
PowerPoint. Technology integrated for the appropriate use in age appropriate students can result
in productivity.
As technology continues to grow and provide new opportunities for learning,
collaboration, and awareness, education needs to be prepared to effectively use it. Mobile
devices continue to grow in popularity and use. These mobile devices can prove advantageous to

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educators if used properly. An emerging technology of augmented reality uses mobile devices as
its main source provides endless possibilities for educational learning. A professor at Ohlone
College, Dr. Deborah Lemon, uses augmented reality with social media to produce effective and
engaging learning processes. She set up a classroom in Facebook that allows students to

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collaborate on a business project in Spanish. By using a fixed picture and augmented reality,
students engage in work across time and space to collaboratively create a travel brochure. This
example shows an educator who uses technology to her teaching advantage. By using a mode of
communication familiar to the students and combining it with mobile devices as well as

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emerging technology, this educator provided her students with an engaging, effective learning

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experience. In order to effectively use mobile devices, educators must willingly change their
schema on education, mobile devices, and the importance of social collaboration to provide a

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meaningful learning environment for their students. Social collaboration has become more
pertinent in the last few decades with the emergence of Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus and

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similar programs, denying the importance of integrating social collaboration into education must

not occur. However, the question arises: what format(s) of integration emerge as the best for both

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students and teachers?

Past and current trends in mobile learning show these devices as a supplement for

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learning, but not as the main source of learning. Current applications are designed to engage and
teach students of all ages, but none exist to facilitate social collaboration (Thinley, Reye, &
Geva, 2014).

Connectivism in Mobile Learning


The connectivism theory or model of learning came about from the new era of

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learners relying on the Internet and social media to gain and share knowledge. Learners today do
not depend on the teacher as the primary source of information (Johnson, et al., 2014). To some,
the term googleable describes how student now approach learning. Students must know how
to search for accurate and reliable information and how to connect to peers, experts and strangers

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on social networks for learning (Nyguen, 2013, p. 1286). These connectivity tools changed the
way people communicate and engage in their community. As Collins and Halverson explain,
community traditionally referred to ones town or neighborhood. Those whom, shared the same
experiences, values, and beliefs about the world (Collins & Halverson, 2009, p.11).

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Technologies have now loosened community boundaries. Social software feeds to the consumers

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desire to customize their way of learning and communicate with others. Children growing up in
a digital world will be so used to making choices in their lives that they will demand

Trends in Connectivism and Mobile Learning

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personalized learning choices (Collins & Halverson, 2009, p. 17).

Learners today look to connect with others to find accurate and primary source

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information. The use of social networks such as Skype, Google Hangout, FaceTime and blogs
allow this to occur in real-time. Without on-going updates to curriculum, teachers expectation

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becomes the understanding of how to use these types of tools integrating them effectively to
produce authentic digital learning (Johnson, et al., 2014). In a study conducted by Ozan (2013) a
college provided students with iPod touch devices to access mobile learning management and
applications to include Google Docs, Facebook, and Twitter to manage course content. During
the 14-week course data collection occurred through social network, Facebook wall entries,
personal messages, chat records, blog entries, emails, etc. Analysis revealed Facebook (85%) and

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Twitter (43%) as the top two ways students interacted with the course. Answers to the exit
survey revealed mobile technologies present as a positive effect on learning performances. The
researchers also learned the participants relied on the instant and fast access of information the
mobile device provided and that the students developed an emotional attachment to the device.

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Young learners predisposed to these types of connectivity deserve a classroom environment and
teachers who can build mobile learning into the core practices of school.
Mobile Learning and Special Education

The intent for mobile learning is to expand the learning environment for the learner.

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Doolittle and Mariano (2009) characterize mobile learning as the ability to move beyond the

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place-bound learning environment with the use of wireless educational technologies. Often when
contemplating the possible impact of the usage and acquisition of mobile technologies, schools

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neglect a crucial factor. When developing mobile learning experiences, the device or technology
being used must provide equitable learning for all students. Of utmost importance is the

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consideration needed in regards to students with communicative, physical and cognitive

disabilities. The US Census Bureau categorizes types of disabilities into three domains: (1)

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communicative, (2) physical, and (3) mental (Betts, et al., 2013). Communicative disabilities
include difficulties with hearing, vision, and speech; physical disabilities include students unable

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to walk or with debilitating diseases such as arthritis and cerebral palsy; and mental disabilities
include students with a learning or intellectual disability, such as dyslexia or dyscalculia (Betts,
et al., 2013). Not only is it morally and ethically prudent to consider the learning experiences of
all students, but it is also legally mandated through the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which was
amended in 1998 to include technologies both hardware and software- purchased by or with
federal monies be usable and accessible to individuals with disabilities (Hashey, 2014).

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Benefits and Concerns for all Learners


Mobile learning allows the learner flexibility, which translates into anytime,
anywhere ways to learn and access educational tools and materials (Elias, 2011). This is clearly a

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benefit afforded to the student who uses mobile technologies to access curriculum and materials
for any course or subject. Additionally, mobile learning allows curriculum to be present in
multiple ways audio, video, and text as well as providing immediate feedback for teachers to
customize pace and focus on how best to meet each students educational needs (Hashey, 2014).

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This also contributes to differentiating the learning experience to meet a students specific

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academic weaknesses and strengths. It goes without saying that these benefits of mobile learning
are not to be overlooked for any student, regardless of varying levels of cognitive and physical

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abilities.

Along with the positive benefits of incorporating mobile technologies into a mobile

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learning environment are the concerns for equitable access and usability for all students.

Educators must be aware of the accessibility barriers learners with disabilities face within mobile

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environments (Hashey, 2014). This means software, mobile devices, and even online curriculum
and content have a functionality that accommodates for diminished levels of visual, audio,

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speech, and fine motor capabilities. Small screens and cluttered keyboards are just a few
examples of how accessibility to mobile technologies can impede the learning process for
students with disabilities.
Ensuring Equitable Learning
A key asset in determining if software or hardware can provide equitable access for
all learners is the Voluntary Product Accessibility Template, or VPAT. This template, adopted

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by the Information Technology Industry Council, is a document that vendors fill out to reveal the
degree that their products and services are in alignment with Section 508 federal technical
accessibility standards (Betts, et al., 2013). This becomes a starting point for schools to decide if
a product is appropriate for their students. A well-developed VPAT will help determine if a

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selection of software or a particular mobile device is appropriate or not appropriate for


individuals with limited mobility, hearing impairments, or visual impairments (Hashey, 2014).
A multitude of products are available to assist in the equitable usage of mobile
devices for mobile learning. Screen readers are software applications that convert text (words or

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numbers), documents (e.g., a word processed document, a spreadsheet), or web pages on a

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computer display screen into audible speech (Betts, et al., 2013). In addition, some screen
readers use Braille output in place of speech. As a great resource, screen readers can be highly

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effective for equitable access to mobile technologies for many students, including learners who
are blind or have low vision and are also used by students who have learning disabilities (e.g.,

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dyslexia, dysgraphia, attention deficit disorder) or are English language learners (Betts, et al.,

2013).

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Knowledge is power, and as such, knowing the availability of software and hardware
specifically designed to assist learners with disabilities will help empower all educators to

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service all students during the mobile learning experience. Most mobile devices are designed
with assistive features as build-in equipment. Apple iOS devices come standard with VoiceOver,
which is a gesture-based screen reader that allows individuals to fully interact by using gestures
(tapping, swiping, flicking) on the screen of the iOS device (Betts, et al., 2013). Microsoft
documents in Word, PowerPoint, and Excel can be modified with formatting functions to make
documents accessible to all learners (Betts, et al., 2013). Assistive technologies for the deaf and

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hard of hearing include real-time captioning services,

The availability of mobile devices is both abundant and varied. As such, educators in a mobile

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learning environment have an ethical and legal responsibility to ensure that the learning
experience is equitable opportunity for all learners, regardless of ability or disability.
Gaming in Mobile Learning

Mobile learning has become an important and substantial part of modern education.

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When it comes to mobile learning many different facets to explore exist, one of particular

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interest for many involves mobile gaming. If you were to look around at any school, restaurant,
or other public establishment, you would no doubt see children absorbed in a mobile device. On

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that mobile device you might find them doing a number of things. However, the most likely
scenario becomes one of absorption in a game. Games played for recreation involve objectives,

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problems, and scenarios requiring skills for the player to accomplish. The games used in

education teach critical thinking, problem solving, and covering curriculum content in a very

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meaningful way to the learner. Many aspects of mobile gaming need addressing if educators
hope to implement this learning tool into education. Most importantly, staff and students desire

Staff and Student Desires and Attitudes

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gaming and design implementation strategies for these games.

Project Tomorrow conducted a survey in 2008 and more than 50% of responding
students said they could access technology more easily by bringing their own device. More than
33% of K-12 students responded they had access to their own personal laptop, while 35% of
primary grade students, 52% of middle school students, and 67% of secondary students stated

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they had access to their own personal cell phone (Electronic Education Report, 2008, p. 4).
These statistics come from a survey taken by Project Tomorrow about aspects of technology that
students desire for implementation. The importance of this quote shows that the technological
resources needed to implement gaming into curriculum exist, especially at the secondary levels.

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With this number likely to grow, and the large number of students that bring a mobile device
with them to school could mean implementation becomes more practical than in the past.
Additionally, 51% of grade 6-12 students said games make it easier to understand difficult
concepts; 46% say they would learn more about a subject if presented through a game; 44% say

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gaming would make it more interesting to practice problems (Electronic Education Report,

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2008, p. 4). These statistics show the desire for gaming implementation as well as the resources
needed exist. Finally, the desire from the school staff side of this equation: Forty-five percent of

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school and district administrators identified online learning as a way to boost student
Engagement, and 33% of teachers have explored how to integrate online learning into their

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classrooms (Electronic Education Report, 2004, p. 4). All of these statistics go to show that a

desire for mobile gaming and online learning opportunities by many stakeholders in education

Mobile Gaming Implementation and Design

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exists.

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The literature reviewed leads to a lot of good designs, and suggestions for proper and
successful implementation of gaming. A number of different ways to use mobile gaming to
reinforce learning as well as making it more meaningful exist. One of the more interesting
designs for mobile gaming came from Facer (2004) in the UK. This design presented as an
experiential learning model using GPS devices in addition to mobile devices. The design also
incorporated students interacting both in their physical environment as well as through the use of

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devices. The objective of the game used in the study consists of teaching students about the lions
that inhabit the Savannah. Each student was given both a GPS and PDA device to use during the
game; the device programs gave the students specific tasks to accomplish as a member of the
pride of lions. Students received information and tasks from teachers in the den, and this game

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required the students to interact with each other and use information provided from the devices
to accomplish goals in the game. This design allowed students to construct their own experiences
and partake in meaningful learning experience with their peers.
Another mobile gaming design, executed by Huang (2010) in China sought to

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implement a narrative centered interactive game for discovery learning. These teachers designed

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a variety of narratives for their students to follow; through the process students learned through
their own discovery of content playing the game. The researchers found this to be a very

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effective design, with hidden story plots as the most effective narrative implemented. Teachers
acted as facilitators rather than instructors in this study, and the students had to make a series of

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choices that would lead them to a number of different outcomes.

Mobile gaming is a new and exciting learning tool, more research remains to

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discover and modify to make them more effective. Skills educators seek to shape and grow in
students today; critical thinking and problem solving, in all of the literature reviewed found those

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skills necessary to complete the tasks in the games. Teachers found ways to design and
implement games to fit their content and students; as with any teaching method, flaws exist, but
those flaws do not outweigh the benefits of mobile gaming.
Mobile gaming, with its many characteristics as a learning tool, could through the
reviewed literature show growth in the desired skills of students. The advent of mobile devices
and easier access to technology makes this a more feasible option in educating students. The

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literature reviewed showed great progress in the design of games and the potential for
improvements in the future, in both design and implementation. Gaming will most likely become
an important aspect of mobile learning in schools (Power, Daniel, Barma, & Harrap, 2010)

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Conclusion
The current age of technology as a part of daily life will continue to change the way
we communicate, learn, and work. Our global work environment relies on the use of mobile
devices, innovative multi-media resources, and cloud computing. Educational systems at all

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levels must reevaluate their administrative processes and priorities to make informed decisions
that reflect current best practices and integration of 21st century technological skills. Research
reports that mobile learning systems with Web resources can benefit mobile learning in K-12
settings. Appropriate evaluation and modeling of software and applications can increase student

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productivity, motivation, and assessment strategies. Mobile technology integration changes the

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objectives and tools used in districts curriculum. Mobile learning is adaptable to foundational
learning theories and equitable for all students. Every aspect of mobile learning; from email,

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gaming, presentations to blogs, exist as an essential avenue to access learning using critical
thinking skills in collaborative environments.

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