Mobile devices are very popular now. It is a fact that many people usually carry one or more mobile computing devices with them, including smart phones, personal digital assistants (PDAs), or tablets. These personal devices are normally used with different purposes, some of which are related to entertainment, working, or learning, among others.
With the growth of mobile devices, raise mobile earning systems. Mobile learning also known as m-learning is a field which combines two very promising areas - mobile computing and e-learning. Mobile learning defined in multiple papers as:
"Learning that arises in the course of person- to-person mobile communication".
The current trends of Mobile Learning technology are integrated, universal, portable and networking. Functioning based on the paradigm of "anytime, anywhere," m-learning is enabled by integrating various hardware and software technologies into multimedia applications facilitating the communication of educational content in a number of different formats (e.g., quizzes and games) and for a number of purposes . Mobile Learning can be applied in a variety of subjects in primary, secondary, higher, lifelong, community, and professional education .
From e-Learning to m-Learning
Some authors describe mobile learning as distinct from traditional e-learning, suggesting that it not be defined by technology or device, because of the continuous morphing between devices . Others consider m-learning as a progression of e-learning with the added value of the mobility component . On the other hand, advise that mobile learning should not be viewed as "e-learning" transferred to mobile devices. Instead, they contend, the value of mobile devices as tools of learning is found in the storage capabilities that en- able people to connect to previously downloaded materials at any time .
Why Mobile learning?
Mobile learning has many features that attract people. The main feature is Mobility, coupled with ease of software access and integration of media and applications, allows pupils to work more continuously across home and school settings, allows activities to be initiated outside the school, or practice on exercises to be undertaken when or where desired . Also, mobile learning can facilitate different categories of learning activities, including behaviorist, constructivist, situated, collaborative, personalized, and informal learning. This flexibility offers the process of education a significant novelty at the level of method.
Mobile Learning Devices
The end-user element of most m-learning applications involves a mobile phone (smart or older generation), a personal digital assistant (PDA), tablets or a portable media player (a device such as Apple's iPod). The applications are usually supported by the latest wireless telecommunication infrastructure (e.g., 3G and 3.5G telecommunication net- works, mobile Internet, and Wi-Fi) and some also include a form of location-based services (LBS) using a Geographic Information Systems (GIS) software package in combination with the Global Positioning System (GPS) or another positioning technique .
Mobile Learning in Classroom
Siu Cheung KONG said:
"Recent research findings on using mobile devices in different learning environments have demonstrated their ability to effectively enhance students' learning experience and knowledge understanding in different subject areas".
Regular classes have four major issues in delivering effective instruction: Problems in Content Understanding, Problems in Concentration and Lack of Variety, Need for Multiple Explanations, and Lack of Assistance. Theses issues can be solved by mobile performance-centered educational system . Siu Cheung KONG study reveals that the classroom use of mobile devices is potential to promote student learning in school education. The findings of this study imply that the pedagogical integration of interactive software and mobile devices in class time can afford students with not only the scaffolds of expert knowledge; but also the convenience of free movement when they mutually discuss subject knowledge with peers around the classroom, with mediation from learning recourses accessible through the WiFi- connected computing devices. These address an important trend of subject learning in school education in the twenty- first century deep learning through classroom-based dialogic interaction mediated by computer-supported learning recourses, which are wirelessly connected.
Mobile learning can be combined with traditional education. This combination has given rise to the concept of blended learning. Mobile technologies have the potential to impact in some key areas of learning, but teachers alone will be unlikely to bring about the width of implementation needed. Some teachers conceive or provide activities that focus on engagement, acquisition, and rehearsal of knowledge or ideas (such as a resource to check spellings using audio as well as text facilities). Others focus on internal higher order cognitive aspects such as analysis or synthesis or evaluation of ideas (identifying what a video of a science experiment tells you when you see a set of chemical reactions, for example). Yet others focus on the externalization of ideas (bringing together images and notes from a visit to a castle to create a news story report, for example). Teachers choose learning activities to match the needs and starting positions of their learners, as well as meeting curriculum needs. .
Most popular mobile learning application is the use of e-books on mobile learning devices witch is used in some colleges and schools. The team of the research "The Research on E-book-oriented Mobile Learning System Environment Application and Its Tendency" said about E-textbook:
"E-textbook will become the core of mobile learning environments and replace textbooks".
Models of distance education have gravitated towards two different poles: the "individual flexible teaching model" and the "extended classroom model". The former allows students to start the class at any time, study in isolation, and communicate with instructors and classmates through asynchronous tools. The latter organizes students into groups and requires them to meet at local study centers and use interactive technologies such as video conferencing.
Mobile Education Theory
There are known education theories, researchers find how they applied and observed in mobile learning. First, Because of the quick feedback or reinforcement that can be facilitated through mobile devices, Behaviorist theories are relevant in mobile learning. Second, mobile learning is supported by constructivist methods as it enables immersive experiences in gaming environments or simulations. Third, Teachers and instructional designers can prepare situations for students to use their mobile devices to solve problems in case-based learning. Fourth, In Collaborative learning, participants engage in group discussion and reflection on practice with faculty and other users to learn from each other. Mobile devices also provide an additional means of communication and a portable means of electronic information gathering and sharing among users.
The primary affordance of mobile learning is that because the devices used are small. Since they can be carried anywhere, learning is available to the user in a ubiquitous fashion. Mobile learning users have access to real-time data whenever and wherever they need it, in addition to gathering features like note taking, imaging, audio recordings, videos, teacher lecture notes, books, encyclopedias, simulations, worksheets, etc. also assistance toward data processing and analysis. Some leaders in distance education research say affordances have yet to be determined, stating that educational researchers have not yet seen persuasive arguments for the affordances of mobile learning. Nevertheless, some of the uses of mobile devices for education are well documented in the research, but need to be measured against previously existing methods[4, 7].
Even with the growth of mobile learning there are constraints. According Kukulska Hulme referenced by Gara. V. , the most of m-learning still takes place on devices (e.g., mobile phones and PDAs) that are not fit for the purpose. This mismatch often leads to various usability problems. The primary limitations to mobile learning are due to the small size. Several constraints are related to size, including short battery life, small screen size, and slow text input. Secondly, mobile learning requires connection with a server. Some researchers have suggested engineering a pure connection and pure mobility mode for the mobile device so that it can download and store what is needed for most of the learning process and be able to function with minimal or no connection for long periods of time. In this case, the mobile device turns into a small computer with no communication function. Thirdly, lack of cross- platform consistency in mobile devices is a drawback in developing mobile learning applications, unless an entire industry or university is using the same device. Chen Yi mention this problem:
"Mobile learning application does not populate with development of mobile technologies and Internet technologies. It still stays an embarrassing condition that mobile learning has already wider accepted as an advanced education solution, but less utilizes in practice".
Fourth, mobile learners could be distracted while trying to learn with their mobile devices while going about other tasks. Fifth, Student motivation states change with time during the teaching of a course. The initial enthusiasm at the beginning of the course tends to have a positive impact on the student's motivation, while the effort required to acquire the knowledge and associated skills and attitudes negatively impacts the levels of student motivation as the course advances. This effort is somehow compensated toward the end of the course by the self-confidence that students acquire as they master the various parts of the course contents.
Developing Mobile Learning
Gara, V. sums the topic of creating usable interfaces by saying:
"Several authors have dealt with the topic of creating usable interfaces for m-learning software. There is a consensus that the main rule should be "Keep it Simple"".
Unless platforms become standardized, designers need to develop applications for as broad a mobile audience as possible. This can be done with web sheet styles that can adjust to screen and device limitations. At the same time, developers will keep in mind that they are not replacing the desktop or laptop computer, but they are mainly extending computer use outside of the settings where users are constrained to sitting at a computer. This will open up possibilities into the mobile learning domain, which includes collaborative groups, field gathering of data, and other constructive learning exercises.
Gaps in Existing Literature
Most of the research available for mobile learning falls into the category of best practices for mobile learning development. A much smaller number of research projects attempt to measure the effectiveness of using mobile devices for education compared to not using them at all. There also need to find an effective way to motivate students to learn using mobile learning and avoid the distraction of the pupils by other applications on the mobile learning device.
There are new possibilities appears after the review of existing literature to research. Applying mobile learning in classroom in effective way is what most interests me in this review.