Mobile technologies for learning

Mobile Learning*

Recent interest in the use of mobile technologies for learning is considerable. Mobile learning, alone or in combination with other information and communication technologies, is said to enable learning anytime and anywhere [1]. These technologies are continuously evolving, and currently include mobile and smartphones, tablet computers, e-readers, portable audio players and hand-held consoles. The emergence of new technologies has drastically changed the nature of educational processes. Lightweight and portable devices – ranging from mobile phones, tablet PCs, to palmtops – have liberated learning from fixed and predetermined locations, changing the nature of knowledge in modern societies [2]. Learning has thus become more informal, personal and ubiquitous[3]. Mobile technologies are especially interesting for educators because of their lower cost in comparison with desktop computers, and their incorporation of rich resources from the internet [4].

Gaining prominence in various education sectors, mobile learning has furthered basic and higher education, as well as connected formal and informal education [5]. Given their portability and low-cost features, inexpensive mobile learning devices have the potential to increase the accessibility and effectiveness of basic education [6]. Mobile technologies ‘hold the key to turning today’s digital divide into digital dividends bringing equitable and quality education for all [7].’ Notably, the development of mobile technologies has opened up many possibilities in literacy and language learning [8]. Research has demonstrated mobile technology’s effectiveness in improving literacy performance among learners. Because mobile technology can reach a wider audience, it holds the promise of transforming education for children and youth in isolated and other underserved conditions [9].

*The text is from the book “Rethinking Education. Towards a global common good?” (2015), United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).


[1] UNESCO. 2013. Policy Guidelines for mobile learning. Paris, UNESCO.

[2]  O’Malley, C., Vavoula, G., Glew, J.P., Taylor, J., Sharples, M. and Lefrere, P. 2003. MOBIlearn WP4 Guidelines for Learning/Teaching/Tutoring in a Mobile Environment. [Accessed February 2015].

[3] Traxler, J. 2009. Current State of Mobile Learning. M. Alley (ed.), Mobile Learning: Transforming the Delivery of Education and Training Athabasca, AB, Canada, AU Press. pp. 9-24.

[4] Kukulska-Hulme, A. 2005. Introduction. J. Traxler and A. Kukulska-Hulme (eds), Mobile learning – A handbook for educators and trainers, New York, Routledge, pp. 1-6.

[5] Traxler, op. cit.

[6]  Kim, P.H. 2009. Action Research Approach on Mobile Learning Design for the Underserved. Education Technology Research Development. Vol. 57, No. 3, pp. 415-435.

[7]  ITU and UNESCO. 2014. Mobile learning week: A revolution for inclusive and better education. UNESCO website. [Accessed February 2015].

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