Along these 10 weeks we have discussed many things about mobile technologies applied to learning. We have said that handheld devices provides unique opportunities for learning. That learning with mobiles is situated and contextualized. That such technology leverage communication and, consequently, social learning. We have also said that mobiles are suitable for many of the 21st Century skills, and also that mobiles bridge learning across space and time. Even, we have advocated for mobiles as an ideal tool for informal learning.

But it seems that reality goes behind the theory. On the one hand, there is very little research on how to successfully use mobiles in a formal learning context. On the other, teachers have little experience, knowledge and support for using it in their classes. Thus, all those benefits attributed to mobile learning are seen more like potentiality than like reality.

Research and articles has focused not a bit on technology. Now, probably, a shift is necessary, so that research focuses on the use of technology. Recent research pushes in this direction (Aiyegbayo, 2014; Byrne-Davis et al, 2015; Lindsay, 2015).

Especially useful is the SAMR model, which states four levels of mobiles use for learning purposes: Substitution, Augmentation, Modification and Redefinition. The first two levels are called the enhancement levels, while the two last are referred to as the transformation levels (Aiyegbayo, 2014).

Several researches find that the most of the applications of mobile technologies for learning purposes lies in the enhancement levels (Aiyegbayo, 2014; Byrne-Davis et al, 2015; Lindsay, 2015). This suggests that there are potential applications of handheld devices that are not taking place, like interaction with experts, situated learning or seamless learning. This technology is mainly used “to support task activities, information access and innovative media production” (Lindsay, 2015, p.8).

As we discussed some weeks before, it is not a question of technology; it is a question of how technology is -pedagogically- used (Aiyegbayo, 2014; Lindsay, 2015; Warschauer & Matuchniak, 2010).

Moreover, some theories claim that current students, being digital natives, “process information differently to cohorts of students who were brought up before widespread computing technology. (…) However, there is no evidence that students who are ‘digitally native’ use technology in a different way from those who are not” (Byrne-Davis et al, 2015).

Therefore, technology availability is not enough. It is true that one-to-one classes are necessary in order to develop learning activities with handheld devices. However, it is also true that carefully designing learning activities with mobile technology is something crucial. The way technology is going to be used has to be defined.

Summing up, only if design is thoughtfully done, the potentiality of mobile technology may bring learning to transformation levels.


  • Aiyegbayo, O. (2014), How and why academics do and do not use iPads for academic teaching?. British Journal of Educational Technology. doi: 10.1111/bjet.12202
  • Byrne-Davis, L., Dexter, H., Hart, J., Cappelli, T., Byrne, G., Sampson, I., Mooney, J., & Lumsden, C. (2015). Just-in-time research: a call to arms for research into mobile technologies in higher education. Research In Learning Technology, 23. doi:
  • Lindsay, L. (2015), Transformation of teacher practice using mobile technology with one-to-one classes: M-learning pedagogical approaches. Br J Educ Technol. doi:10.1111/bjet.12265
  • Warschauer, M., & Matuchniak, T. (2010). New technology and digital worlds: Analyzing evidence of equity in access, use, and outcomes. Review of Research in Education, 34(1), 179-225.
From the device to its use

One thought on “From the device to its use

  • August 2, 2015 at 10:04 pm

    It’s been a pleasure learning to learn with you over the past few weeks. I thought that your first couple of paragraphs summarizing our semester-long exploration of what it means with mobile technology captured things concisely and clearly.

    The words that caught my attention on your post were “all those benefits attributed to mobile learning are seen more like potentiality than like reality.” While I agree that the lack of research and barriers to implementation make mobile learning seem like a sometimes unattainable goal, what I’ve learned from experience and throughout this course is that, in the face of these shortcomings, we need to realize that we are early adopters and we shouldn’t aim for perfection (pedagogically and technically). We can keep the learner in mind and cautiously move forward.

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