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Mobile learning is made possible by the application of mobile hardware and communication technology (Caudill, 2007). Even the mobile learning term were laid over thirty years ago with far-sighted Xerox Dynabook projects which allow children to explore, create and share dynamic games and simulations says (Kay, 1972). New technology offers the opportunity for children and adults to communicate with teachers and fellow learners around the world.
M-learning derived from e-learning and d-learning (Georgiev, 2004) proved in his research that by nature m-learning is a form of existing distance learning (d-learning) and electronic learning (e-learning).The below figure 1.0 explained by the research about the derivation of m-learning and the history of m-learning.
Figure 1.0 : Revolution of M-learning ( Georgiev, 2004, p.28-1)
Sharples (2005) argues in his research that over the past ten years mobile learning has grown from a minor research interest to a set of significant projects in schools, workplaces, museums, cities and rural areas around the world. In recent years the quick growth of mobile technologies is promising a new revolution that might be comparable with the Web. The forecasts found that by 2004 about 63 millions handhelds will be sold, and that approximately 38% of them will be smart phones, integrating PDA functionality with features for communication (Litchfiels, 2007). This shows that the mobile learning is improving rapidly. There is much hardware and software's introduced in these days for the easy use of mobile. Sharma (2004) says to make this learning method more effectively, there are many new hardware's were introduced such as PDA, cell phones, portable computers and Tablet PC. As a result, by the addition of mobility and the support of mobile technologies, the Mobile Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning (MCSCL) paradigm has appeared (Caballe, 2010).
The government of Malaysia has established MSC (Multimedia Super Corridor) to spearhead the Four innovative flagship applications where one of them is to implement smart schools Application (Saipunidzam Mahamad, 2010). However the growth of m-learning in Malaysia is not very much improving, it can be proved by looking at the number of schools using the high technology in the classroom environment. Saipunidzam Mahamad also argued that only smart schools in Malaysia are using the Technology for the learning purposes. Barker (2005) had proved that developing countries as well will soon catch up with this new learning paradigm. This shows that this new learning paradigm will evolve mobile devices with the rapid usage and ownership among the users in Developing countries like Malaysia. The are many opportunities in mobile industry especially in educational line to promote a interactive, engaging learning environment (Sharples, 2005).
This project is about developing an interactive multimedia m-learning application that demonstrate and promote the use of various multimedia learning applications through affordable mobile devices. This m-learning application is a Primary science program for year 4 based on the latest curriculum set by Ministry of Education. The target audiences of this project are kids aged 9-12. Elements of audio, graphics, animation and text will be applied in this project to make it more attractive and engaging.
The selected chapters will be Investigating Living Things. The theme introduces pupils to the basic understanding about the basic needs of living things, life processes, and interactions among living things and how living things survive and create a balance in nature. This theme also focuses on life processes in man for pupils to understand themselves.
Students have learnt this topic in school. Thus, it is a way to improve and implement their knowledge on what they have learnt is school through mobile technologies. There will be quiz sections for them to answer and there will be scoring system implement in this application.
All the schools generally follow the traditional method of teaching and learning and it is difficult to find a place where interactive studies are of major importance and makes the studies interesting especially for primary school children. These children are keen to understand the basic and new concepts taught every day to them. The only thing they need to develop a good understanding of these concepts taught at schools is either to experience by themselves virtually or really in their daily lives or to find a way which makes them feel like the concepts. We feel that only traditional education method is not enough for a complete learning process of primary school children but there is a need to optimally use the available technology and make the concepts more attractive and entertaining for a complete learning experience.
There are few problems identified by the primary school children based on the focus group interview done by the researcher.
Science content are too complicated to be conducted in conventional way for children.
Traditional book is not enough to learn and experience science subject.
Science subjects need experience where conventional methods did not support this.
To achieve the objectives of the study, research questions were designed as follows:
RQ1: How mobile learning will help achieve the goals of a better learning?
RQ2: What learning strategy that can enhance and improve children's knowledge in mobile learning?
RQ3: How effective is the mobile learning technology use in teaching science content for children?
The objective of the study is divided into two categories which are the general objectives and specific objectives.
This research aims to provide a solution for users (standard 4 children to learn science contents using Mobile learning (m-learning).
Specific objective of the research are as follows:
To design and develop an engaging and fun educational content based on mobile platform.
To explore the learning theory for primary school children in science context.
To evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of the Mobile educational science contents among children.
Significant of the study
This research is of significance to various groups in the field of education, government body and the indigenous people themselves.
The final output of this research will be able to use by the standard 4 students to sharpen their knowledge.
The final output of this research will be a digital achievement for the standard 4 primary school children and will benefit to Ministry of Education, Malaysia.
The final output of this research will also be able to reach to other Educator and Parents as the information collected is in a more accessible form.
1.5 Scope of the Study
The scope of the study is applied on three areas: Specific users, specific platform and specific functional. Each area is describes as below.
1.5.1 Specific users
The target users are between the ages of 9 to 12 years old. Teachers and parents can use the application in helping their kids. For parent, it is a great way to explore the subject together with their kids. For teachers is a simple way of engaging young children in an activity that will help them learn the chapters. Therefore, fun and engaging interface will capture the young learners' interest. However, to be more specific, different levels will be provided for the learners according to their school syllabus. The levels are streamed to Easy, Medium and Hard. Easy level will be targeting learners with beginner standards, Medium for the intermediate and Hard for the higher-intermediate standards.
1.5.2 Specific Platform
Users must have Android mobile phones in order to use this application. The below list announce in Tech Crunch website (http:// techcrunch.com).
HTC Dream/T-Mobile G
HTC Magic/T-Mobile MyTouch 3G
HTC Hero/T-Mobile G2 Touch/Sprint HTC Hero
Huawei U8230/ Pulse
HTC Tattoo/HTC Click
Motorola Heron/Iron Man
Samsung Behold 2
ARCHOS Phone Tablet
Dell mini i3
Sony Ericsson Xperia X3
Samsung Galaxy Lite/Samsung Spica
1.5.3 Specific functionality
The project will cover only one chapter in the standard 4 science syllabus; 'Investigating Living Things'. The theme introduces pupils to the basic understanding about the basic needs of living things, life processes, and interactions among living things and how living things survive and create a balance in nature. This theme also focuses on life processes in man for pupils to understand themselves. It also explains why man is special compared to other living things.
The contents of this theme are as follows:
Living things have basic needs.
Basic needs for humans.
Basic needs for animals.
Basic needs for plants.
Limitation Of Research
The development of this mobile application is targeting young learners from age 9 to 12 in Malaysia to improve their science learning. This mobile application is mainly designed according to the targeted age with their interaction. Therefore, adult may not be suitable to use this mobile application as their extensive science learning tools.
Apart from that, creating a mobile application is limited to operating system that operates the mobile device. Therefore, Android-based application is not a cross platform mobile application which can be used in just any other mobile operating system such as Windows Mobile. This is due to the fact that Android-based application is mainly implemented using Java programming language as a supporting language for the open-source software stack.
Apart from that, Android may not be compatible with all the mobile devices due to the hardware limitation. However, it is possible to detect, whether or not, a device is compatible with Android using provided Android compatibility program.
Research Conceptual Framework
Figure 1.1: Research conceptual framework
The research conceptual framework designed for this research is based on four stages as indicated in Figure 1.1 As indicated in the framework, Stage I includes the analysis process. In the analysis process, several steps were taken such as initial analysis, specifications requirement, literature review, Focus group interviews, research question, which cause the following steps such as objectives of the research, research scope and final formulation of the Software Requirement Specifications (SRS).
Stage II involved the design process and progress of the system. In the design process, aspects such as model and storyboard of the development of interactive mobile content were conducted to ascertain the Software Design Specifications (SDS). At the progress stage, the process of the system was divided in two parts namely; content creation for the science module and categorization where the modules will be categorized according to the levels. Stage III involved the implementation. At this stage, the development of the prototype involved two parts namely; software and hardware used. The Software included modeling software and mobile programming. The hardware included the equipment and facilities that were used in the research such as Android mobile phone. Stage IV involved evaluation. At this stage, the system will go through normal system testing and also a simple usability testing; concentrating on the strengths and weaknesses of the system. Figure 1.1 shows the research conceptual framework of the research.
Since Science is essential as part of the global environment, Malaysia as a developing country must focus on the science knowledge as one of the primary subjects in the primary school.
The increment usage of mobile phones in Malaysia, provide an alternative for learners to learn by not limiting them to a specific learning location. It allows learners to learn beyond the reach of the teacher. Thus, this project aimed to develop a mobile application that allows young learners (age 9-12) in Malaysia to improve their knowledge in science subjects as well as to provide a better learning experience using multimedia elements.
The mobile application developed will be run based on the Android platform as it is a fast growing mobile platform compared to other mobile platform such as iPhone platform and Windows mobile platform. Furthermore, it is an open-source mobile platform which provides stability and flexibility for the developers. Thus, we will develop the mobile application as a science learning tool that runs on Android platform.