Thoughts about mobile learning

There’s an interesting new forecast from Gartner predicting that within three years, mobile phones will overtake PCs as the most common web browsing device, with approx. 1.8 billion devices accessing information on the cloud. Just yesterday, our faculty were looking at Google Analytics of our student portal, and saw we had 2% access by iPhone (and 35% by Mac). It’s a small number, but a beginning. There was a growing excitement among us as we realized that some of our graduate students were living mobile learning, and what we had done to facilitate that access was to have our program offered fully online.

This summer, Barbara Schroeder and Chris Haskell will be offering a new elective for us, EDTECH 597: Mobile Learning: Devices, Applications, and Pedagogy. How cool is that? Actually, since they created the Cool Teacher Podcast, I wouldn’t expect anything less from these two experts. As we’ve been discussing mobile learning over the last year or so, the question was posed to Chris and Barbara, “Could you teach an entire class on an iPhone?” The answer of course was yes, and voila, we have a great new course coming up.

I recently traveled out of state with my husband.  We were both noticing and commenting on how little we actually used our laptops, and spent our online time using our iphones.  It was quick and easy, and I didn’t feel as tied down to login and be somewhere stationary.  On my gadget wish list, I would like my iphone to serve as my computer, and have the ability to hook it up to an Apple Cinema display as needed, just like I do now when I take my regular laptop with me to work everyday.  Yes, mobile learning and all that it means and implies is coming.  I’m reflecting on next year’s strategic planning process, and our need to give deep consideration to the implications for our classes and programs.

10 thoughts on “Thoughts about mobile learning

  1. Dave Jansik January 19, 2010 / 7:04 PM

    Hi Lisa,
    Great post, and very interesting to hear the department is doing an entire course on the iPhone. I was wondering what sort of platform they used to create it.

    I would also love to hear their feedback on the Push Mobile Media platform. We have developed a content publishing system that can be used to create training programs, tests, surveys and libraries of videos and documents – formatted for viewing and interaction on any brand of mobile device (not everyone has an iPhone, I suppose.

    We would love to chat with you about it sometime. And, we are headquartered in Boise!


    • Barbara April 16, 2010 / 6:49 AM

      We are using Moodle and have installed a mobile plugin called MLE, which stands for Mobile Learning Engine. It works pretty well, but there will most likely be other mobile plugins for Moodle, as course designers realize that they also need to offer mobile access.

      • lisadawley May 12, 2010 / 11:03 PM

        Saw this yesterday! So to access the class on my iPhone, I just use that special mobile URL, or does the site convert automatically if I go to

  2. rozzhardintech February 15, 2010 / 4:57 PM

    This is a great article. I am anticipating the arrival of the iPad and wonder if this will further advance the growth of these types of devices and what is offered on them. I don’t mind that it doesn’t have a phone built in (I wouldn’t want to part with my iPhone anyway). I completed my entire graduate degree online and am looking forward to the opportunity to teach in a non traditional format.

  3. Education Tay March 21, 2010 / 4:00 AM

    Certainly mobile learning is fast becoming very popular. Ipad by Microsoft, apts on a mobile phone and the internet on the go helps the access of information and technology. School, university and colleges around the world have adopted mobile learning technologies into lessons to make them more practical. With apts for instance people can access information mostly everywhere, although the technology is at an early stage. Something between a laptop and mobile phone I see becoming popular and I would by and use on the go. Laptops are not light and are bulky for transportation and will eventually be consigned to the home or place of work.

  4. Barbara April 16, 2010 / 6:46 AM

    Thanks, Lisa, for your thoughts and the plug for our upcoming course this summer. Chris and I are working hard on developing the weekly activities and learning a lot about mobile learning in the process. For instance, I don’t think many people know that there are very few web standards developed and in place for mobile devices. The W3C has made huge progress in setting web standards for regular browsers, but there is still a lot of fragmentation out there because each mobile device is different in how content is displayed on their browsers. How does a web designer, for instance, design content for a mobile device? Does she focus on one or two devices? It’s not an easy decision.

    On the bright side, many current web apps can be viewed very well on an iPhone. WordPress (the web-based, free version) automatically detects when an iPhone is accessing the site and delivers a mobile version. It’s very cool. (the server-based version) offers a mobile plugin, which will do the same thing. Chris and I have also discovered that Google docs files are viewable very well on the iPhone.

    As more and more people use mobile devices to access the Internet, designers needs to think about offering a web-based version of their website, preferably one that is delivered when a mobile device accesses the site. In other words, the site automatically detects the device and then delivers the appropriate content.

    Will the iPhone be the standard platform that all devices try to emulate and thus, eliminate the need to design for multiple platforms? We shall see . . .

  5. Jenny Wilson May 12, 2010 / 5:32 AM

    How teens use cell phones –

    Gives you such a great insight on how useful this device can be.

    Mashable rocks isn’t it?

    Mobl21 is one of the new innovations in mobile learning, attended their webinar a week ago, and seemed to be one of the cutting edge app of the future.

    Check this at

    Kinda similar to Cramberry but more versatile.

  6. Holly Bates May 25, 2010 / 3:46 AM

    Oh yes, I have used both, kinda like Mobl21, especially for K12 for reviewing and refreshing.

  7. kamal bhandari September 3, 2010 / 12:12 AM

    hi i like this mobile a lot

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