Pedagogical perspectives of mobile learning

The ubiquity of smartphones among end-users has increasingly drawn software developers’ attention over the last few years. Mobile applications are emerging technologies that have begun to impact educational practices across many learning contexts. Like all technologies, they need to be chosen carefully to suit the target educational setting. Mobile applications, therefore, represent an opportunity for developing new learning technologies. Hence, the concept of utilizing mobile apps for learning can be replicated for the following specific learning contexts.


The use of mobile apps to present teaching materials/content specific questions (stimulus), obtain responses from learners (response), and provide appropriate feedback (reinforcement) – provide ‘drill and feedback’ activities, fits within the behaviourist learning paradigm.

Examples of using mobile technology:

  • Students send frequent vocabulary messages and revision material via their smartphones using an instant messaging app.
  • Mobile apps designed to allow students to access multiple choice questions and answers, and practical exercises.
  • Mobile apps designed to allow students to review, listen and practice speaking, and provide services such as phrase translation, quizzes and live coaching.


Within a constructivist learning framework, instructors should encourage students to discover principles for themselves. In order to transform learners from passive recipients of information to active constructors of knowledge instructors must offer learners an environment in which to participate in the learning process, and the appropriate tools to work with that knowledge. The use of mobile apps provides a unique opportunity to have learners embedded in a realistic context.

Examples of using mobile technology:

  • Mobile apps for Natural Science: use of mobile apps to support field studies, e.g. taking observational notes, taking photos, querying networked database and comparing data, etc.
  • Mobile apps for Geography: use of mobile apps to support field-based activities, e.g. listen to pre-loaded instructions, taking photos and observational notes, recording students own reflections, etc.
  • Mobile apps for the Visual Arts: use of mobile apps to provide an interactive audio-visual tour, allowing students to view video and still images, listening to expert commentary and reflecting on their experience by answering questions or mixing a collection of sound clips to create their own soundtrack for an artwork.