Authentic, situated and timely teaching and learning can often be achieved through a mobilelearning approach


This pattern considers a #mobileLearning approach, which literally means that all announcements, communications and assessments need to be primarily achievable on a mobile device, putting the laptop and desktop computer as a secondary consideration.

Further consideration of a #mobilelearning design takes into account the likely context of a mobile user, such as: device and operating system diversity; being in public or around others (though not always); having at-times limited connectivity, data allowance or battery life; being easily distracted or needing to be doing other tasks at the same time; being able to communicate with peers; being able to connect with a wider network of information; and other such considerations ( Sharples, Taylor, & Vavoula, 2005).


In some environments / situations, computers such as laptops or desktops are an intrusion on the tasks at hand, necessarily requiring special space and time to be set aside for their use. This is certainly true in many workplaces and even some cultures. ‘Smartphones’ can offer some of the affordances of a computer without so much of the intrusion (Bowers, 2000). This can be an important consideration for teaching and learning in the workplace.


Anticipate that your course participants will have a diverse range of mobile devices, and some may not have one at all! Considering the likely diversity, determine how the participants will engage through their mobile devices. You may decide that a mobile-ready website successfully addresses the problems of device diversity. You may find that a common application such as Facebook or Google+ works reasonably enough for most. You may decide that email, Short Message Services (SMS), Multimedia Messaging Services (MMS), and direct phone calls achieve all that is required.

Consider the potential context of the participants when mobile learning. Can you present your content in ways that are suitable for these contexts? Is the content layered enough? For the user who is experiencing connectivity issues, a title and byline that conveys meaning and value may help.  For the distracted or distractible user an image that deeply communicates value and meaning may help. For the person taking on other tasks at the same time, an audio file (or a video that still communicates as audio only) may be of use. And for assessment, might asking participants to send a photo, video or audio recording with their phones be an effective activity for assessment? Layering information, chunking it, and making it useful in multiple formats can all be effective ways of enabling more mobile learning (Miller, 1956).


  1. Google+ Community for augmented classrooms (School of Art)
  2. Networked learning through social media (School of Fashion & Textiles)
  3. Video in microlearning content (School of Media and Communication)

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Bowers, C. (2000). Let them eat data. How computers affect education, cultural diversity, and the prospects of ecological sustainability. Athens : University of Georgia Press

Miller, G. A. (1956). The magical number seven, plus or minus two: some limits on our capacity for processing information. Psychological review, 63(2), 81.

Sharples, M., Taylor, J., & Vavoula, G. (2005). Towards a theory of mobile learning. Proceedings of mLearn 2005, 1(1), 1-9.

Featured image by succoCC0