Running Head: EFFECTIVE LEARNING STRATEGIES WITH MOBILE DEVICES 1

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Running Head:
EFFECTIVE LEARNING
STRATEGIES WITH MOBILE DEVICES

1


Effective Learning Strategies with Mobile Devices:

Collaborative Situated
Active m
Learning and Learning Theory


Robert Power

Athabasca University

EFFECTIVE LEARNING STRATEGIES WITH MOBILE DEVICES

2


Table of Contents

Abstract

................................
................................
................................
................................
...........

3

What Does an Ideal Collaborative Situated Active mLearning Strategy Look Like?

.......................

5

Collaborative Situated Active mLearning Strategies in Action, Example 1: A Visit to the
Museum

................................
................................
................................
................................
......

7

Collaborative Situated Active mLearning Strategies in Action, Example 2: A Science
Walkabout

................................
................................
................................
................................
...

7

Collaborative Situated Active mLearning Strategies in Action, Example 3:
QR Cache

...............

8

An Emerging Frontier: Augment Reality Games for Collaborative Situated Active mLearning

.

9

Literature Review

................................
................................
................................
..........................

10

How Do We
Design for (and Evaluate) Collaborative Situated Active mLearning Strategies?

10

What Learning Theories and Literature Support Co
llaborative Situated Active mLearning
Strategies?

................................
................................
................................
................................

12

Conclusion

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................................
................................
................................
.....

21

References

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................................
....

22




EFFECTIVE LEARNING STRATEGIES WITH MOBILE DEVICES

3


Abstract

Effective instructional design is
not a haphazard affair. Careful attention must be paid to the
selection of instructional strategies that fit with the objectives of the learning activities, and
with the needs of the learners. This princip
le

holds true in the case of mobile learning
(mLe
arning). Mobile devices should not be used for their own sake. Rather, they should be
drawn upon as a resource to facilitate a desired learning strategy such as

collaborative

situated
active mLearning. The selection of such a learning strategy must not
simply feel like a good
design choice. Strategic decision making must be based upon sound learning theory and
evidence of efficacy from educational research.
Collaborative s
ituated active mLearning is just
one of many learning strategies that employ mobi
le devices. It is grounded in
such
foundational work as
Activity Theory
,
Flow

theory, and
Transactional Distance Theory
.
Guidance for strategic design decisions and the evaluation of instructional design can be found
in the FRAME model

(Koole, 2009)
, whi
ch draws upon these theories in a mLearning context.

Keywords:
Activity Theory
,
Flow

theory, FRAME, instructional design, learning strategies,
mLearning, mobile learning,
Transactional Distance Theory
,

zone of proximal development
,



EFFECTIVE LEARNING STRATEGIES WITH MOBILE DEVICES

4


Effective Learning Strategies with Mobile Devices:

Collaborative Situated
Active m
Learning and Learning Theory

Mobile learning (mLearning)
is an emerging trend in the use of technology to extend
both access to educational opportunities and the range
of
strategies available to meet learning
objectives. One of the most succinct definitions of mLearning is provided by Wexler et al.
(2008):

[mLearning is] any activity that allows individuals to be more productive when
consuming, interacting with or creat
ing information mediated through a compact
portable digital device that the individual carries on a regular basis, has reliable
connectivit
y and fits in a pocket or purse.

(p. 7)

Ally (2009, p. 7) extends upon this definition, and points out that mLearning

empowers both
learners and trainers by allowing them to “learn whenever and wherever they want” and
“access training materials when they need it” without having to “wait for a certain time to learn
or go to a certain place to learn.”

While mLearning exten
ds the range of strategies upon which instructional designers can
draw, decisions about employing those strategies must be grounded in learning theory and
research evidence in order to provide confidence in their efficacy.
Formal research and
mLearning p
ractice has explored a variety of learning strategies in recent years. One such
strategy is collaborative situated active mLearning

(CSAM)
, which simply means the use of
mobile devices to facilitate collaboration in active learning strategies that are sit
uated in an
authentic context or natural environment.

CSAM is not a term used in the literature to describe
EFFECTIVE LEARNING STRATEGIES WITH MOBILE DEVICES

5


a category of mLearning approaches. Rather, it is used here as a descriptive term to compare
the similarities in strategic approaches and learning

objectives of a variety of mLearning
projects in recent years.
Examples of this strategy can be found in recent mLearning research
and practice (Naismith
&

Smith, 2009; Power, 2012
a, 2012b
; Schmitz, Specht
&

Klemke, 2012;
Woodgate, Fraser
&

Martin, 2011)
.


Support for this strategic approach can be found in Koole’s
FRAME model (2009) which illustrates how well
-
established work such as
Activity Theory

(
Chaiklin, 2003;
Kaptelinin
&

Nardi, 2006)
and
Transactional Distance Theory

(Moore, 1989,
1991)
can inform mLearning instructional design and evaluation.
CSAM strategies are

also
supported by

the literature on
Flow

theory

(Chen, 2006
; Järvilehto, 2012
)

and Kozma’s (1994a,
1994b) stance on the media effectiveness debate.


What Does an Ideal
Collab
orative Situated
Active mLearning Strategy Look Like?


mLearning focuses on freeing learners from the constraints of the traditional classroom.
While the ‘mobile’ in mobile learning
often

refers to the type of device used as a technological
intervention,
it is really about the mobility afforded to learners and trainers

(
Park, 2011;
Sharples, Taylor
&

Vavoula, 2005)
. Mobility means the ability to move from place to place
freely, and mLearning means the ability to
engage in rich and meaningful learning acti
vities
while moving about. That said, the focus of mLearning is on the learning activities that are
taking place

not on the technology itself, which is only used to facilitate those activities.
Mobile technologies can provide continuous access to tools a
nd resources that enable learners
to interact with each other and with their learning environment. This ability to interact enables
collaboration so that even when on the move outside of a
traditional
classroom, learners can
EFFECTIVE LEARNING STRATEGIES WITH MOBILE DEVICES

6


draw upon each other’s skills,

knowledge and motivation to learn more than would be possible
acting in isolation. The ability to interact with their learning environment in novel ways enables
learners to actively explore concepts, objects or entire environments in ways that would not
be
possible without technology.


An excellent example of the use of technology as a bridge to foster collaboration in the
active exploration of environments outside of the classroom (or textbook) can be found in an
analogy provided by the children’s

book a
nd

television series
The Magic School Bus
.
The Magic
School Bus

involved a g
roup of primary school children

and their teacher who used a magical
bus (a technological intervention) to transport them outside of their regular classroom

(Bruns,
2012, ShareTV.
org, n.d.; Wikipedia, 2012)
. The bus was an example of a reprogrammable,
repurposeable device that enabled the learners to interact with unique environments in
otherwise impossible ways.
Students could visit the moon or shrink down to explore the inside
of an ant hill or a human body

or anything else their teacher wanted them to learn about.

While
The Magic School Bus

was fictional, it can be viewed as prophetic science fiction.
Modern mobile technologies now have the ability to facilitate similar acti
ve exploration by
learners of all ages. The series also provides an understanding of what an ideal
CSAM

strategy
should look like. That is, the strategy should focus on the activity with the technology taking on
only an enabling role

(Naismith
&
Smith, 2
009)
. It should focus on interactivity on as many
levels as possible

between learners, content and authentic situations. It should be enjoyable
and engaging and offer an appropriate level of challenge to stimulate interaction, but not
frustration. Sev
eral examples from recent mLearning research and practice illustrate how
EFFECTIVE LEARNING STRATEGIES WITH MOBILE DEVICES

7


mobile technologies are now being used to create
CSAM

scenarios similar to those previously
imagined by the writers of
The Magic School Bus
.

Collaborative Situated
Active mLearning S
trategies in Action, Example 1: A Visit to the
Museum

Visiting a museum is a common field trip for school
-
aged learners. However, despite
breaking away from the traditional classroom, the museum visit often results in fairly superficial
learning due to sp
a
t
ial and time constraints and the requirement to follow and listen to a tour
guide

(Naismith
&
Smith, 2009)
. In other words, simply shifting to an out
-
of
-
classroom
environment does not necessarily create a collaborative active learning scenario. Naismith
&

Smith (2009) describe the developmen
t of learning resources for the University of
Birmingham’s L
apworth
Museum
of Geology
that use Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs)
and a
specialized near field sensor system. These resources enable students, working in smaller
groups, to explore the museum at their own pace,
based upon their own interests,
without a
dedica
ted tour guide. When pointed at an artifact or display the PDAs instantly display pre
-
loaded content. The specific content c
an

be tailored to the needs of different types of learners
(such as introductory
-
level museum
browsers
, or more specialized expert
s looking for detailed
information about specific objects or themes) (pp. 249
-
250).

Collaborative Situated
Active mLearning Strategies in Action, Example 2: A Science Walkabout

While science classes for younger students often
foster interest in the sciences by
focusing
on active exploration, Woodgate et al. (2011) describe their frustration at the overly
theoretical nature of secondary level science curriculum in the United Kingdom. The primary
EFFECTIVE LEARNING STRATEGIES WITH MOBILE DEVICES

8


means of facilitating active sci
ence learning for secondary students
are

pre
-
scheduled sessions
in the school’s science laboratory, which often results in activities that are disconnected from
learners’ real life contexts. The researchers describe a project led by the University of Bath

that
provided secondary students with sets of PDAs, mobile sensing and data logging

equipment

and
Global Positioning System devices. Learners would use the devices to explore their own local
communities, gather data related to scientific concepts discuss
ed in the classroom, and plot
that data onto online maps using
Google Earth

. Students reported enjoying the activities and
being
more easily able to contextualize previously abstract concepts. They were also able to
gather data and produce reports and p
rojects that were of practical use to their own
communities. In other words, the mobile technologies engaged the learners in behaving like
real scientists in authentic situations.

Collaborative Situated
Active mLearning Strategies in Action, Example 3:
QR

Cache

Learning about computer concepts and devices from a textbook can be challenging,
especially for students learning in a second or foreign language. The
QR Cache

research project
(Power, 2012
a, 2012b
) used web
-
based Reusable Learning Objects (RLOs) accessed by scanning
Quick Response (QR) codes by students with their own mobile devices. QR codes were
mounted on actual computer equipment, so that learners could access just
-
in
-
time information
about te
rminology and functions as they explored
the

equipment in small groups at their own
pace. In this project, learners reported enjoying the active learning much more than using a
course workbook. They also learned how, and reported a desire
,

to continue us
ing their own
EFFECTIVE LEARNING STRATEGIES WITH MOBILE DEVICES

9


mobile devices to look up relevant information
whenever they encountered a new learning
situation either at school, the workplace, or in their personal lives.

An Emerging Frontier: Augment Reality Games for
Collaborative Situated
Active mLear
ning

Augmented reality (AR) applications allow mobile devices to display enhanced images of
a user’s current environment. These enhanced images may include graphical renderings to
show details about local structures, or provide overlays of textual and gra
phical information
onto real time images captured using the device’s camera (Augmented Reality, 2012). Schmidz
et al. (2012) describe a Chicago
-
based pilot project where secondary students use AR
applications on mobile devices to explore the effects of cl
imate change on their own
environment. Learners use their mobile devices to look at local waterways
. They

view images
of those waterways
both
as they appeared one hundred years ago and how they might look in
another century’s time. Students
then use the
ir devices to participate in challenges based on
making decisions about environmental protection policies. Their decisions in the game affect
the AR displays of the future waterway images. The object of the challenge is for groups of
students to see who
can implement the most effective policies to protect their local waterways.


In all four of the above examples, mobile technologies are being used to facilitate
learning strategies. The devices are not the focus of the learning, but they enable the studen
ts
to break away from the tether of the classroom and textbook. The learning is situated in an
authentic context, learners collaborate with each other and they actively engage with their
environments to build a greater understanding of previously abstract

concepts.

EFFECTIVE LEARNING STRATEGIES WITH MOBILE DEVICES

10


Literature Review

How Do We Design for
(and Evaluate)
Collaborative Situated
Active mLearning Strategies?

Three categories of elements must be considered when designing instruction for
CSAM
strategies. As with any learning strategy, careful consideration must be paid to the
characteristics of the intended learner audience. This includes demographic profiles, as well as
specific learning needs and learning style preferences. Examples of spe
cific considerations
might include the ages, educational levels, intrinsic motivation levels, technology skill
backgrounds, geographic proximity to (or isolation from) peers and instructors and personal
interests, among others.

The second category of ele
ments relates to the types of interaction that will be built into
the instructional design.
C
SAM

strategies should aim for the highest possible levels of
interaction across all possible domains. This includes interaction with the learning context (or
env
ironment) and content, as well as between peers and with the instructor. The idea is to
avoid having individual learners
simply
receive content. Rather, all actors should be working
together to build contextualized understandings and skill sets.


Mobile

devices represent the third category of elements to be considered. While they
may be absolutely critical to the learning strategy, they should actually represent the
most
invisible

of the elements. The devices should act only to facilitate the interacti
ons that are
taking place and stimulate participation by the learners. To achieve this, devices must be
selected based upon their ability to facilitate access to and the exchange of content between
learners, the coordination of collaborative efforts and t
he freedom to interact with learning
EFFECTIVE LEARNING STRATEGIES WITH MOBILE DEVICES

11


content in authentic, situated contexts. As Naismith
&

Smith (2009) explain, quoting Hawkey
(2004), the devices “should be easy to use and unobtrusive; [they] should enable the
experience rather than detract from it


(
p. 250). Other than their ability to facilitate an
otherwise impossible learning strategy, consideration must also be paid to the overall usability
of the mobile devices. This includes factors such as
actual
access to the devices, connectivity
requiremen
ts and associated costs. It also includes the cognitive loads associated with
device
usage. The mobile devices should be as easy to use as possible so that learners can focus on
the required content and activities, and not on
manipulating the technology

(Koole, 2009)
.
Ideally, the devices should also make it easier to access content and collaborate with peers,
thereby reducing the cognitive load normally associated with coordinating such logistics
.

Numerous attempts have been made to provide practical g
uidance on mLearning
instructional design. Elias (2011) applies
Universal Instructional Design

(UID) principles to
mLearning, and focuses on aspects of device access, usability and cognitive load. Traxler
&
Wishart (2011) provide a checklist
of

practical

suggestions for mLearning design based upon the
combined experiences and wisdom of a number of researchers and practitioners. However, it is
the
Framework for the Rational Analysis of Mobile Education

(FRAME) model developed by
Koole (2009) that most eff
ectively integrates the three categories of mLearning design
considerations with established learning theory. The FRAME model
(Figure 1, below)
is
illustrated by a Venn diagram that shows how aspects of learner needs and characteristics,
elements of socia
l (and
environmental and
content
) interaction and the characteristics of
mobile devices interact to create an optimal mLearning experience.

EFFECTIVE LEARNING STRATEGIES WITH MOBILE DEVICES

12




Figure
1
: The FRAME model (Koole, 2009, reproduced with permission)

The FRAME model draws heavily upon both
Activity Theory

and
Transactional Distance Theory

to illustrate the required interrelationships between the actors in an effective mLearning
strategy. It is also consistent with
Flow

Theory, which also provides insi
ght into the principles of
effective
CSAM

strategies.

What Learning Theories and Literature Support

Collaborative Situated
Active mLearning
Strategies?

The efficacy of learning strategies and instructional design decisions is grounded in
rigorously tested
and well
-
established learning theory. C
SAM
strategies are consistent with
intersections of the key elements of the FRAME model, which is itself based upon such learning
EFFECTIVE LEARNING STRATEGIES WITH MOBILE DEVICES

13


theories as
Activity Theory
. FRAME draws heavily upon Vygot
s
ky’s work in the field of
Activity
Theory

and his description of the
zone of proximal development

(Koole, 2009).

The
zone of
proximal development

(Figure 2, below) illustrates
gaps in
the various levels of thinking, activity
and learning that individual l
earners are capable of achieving

(
Chaiklin, 2003; Kaptelinin &
Nardi, 2006
)
.


Figure
2
: Vygotsky's
zone of proximal development

The central core of the
zone of proximal development

represents what learners are currently
able to do without assistance. It is surrounded by more advanced learning tasks and skills
which the learner could “potentially do with assistance


(
Koole 2009
, p. 37
).
C
SAM

aims to
capitalize on the combined area
of possible achievement both individually and in collaborative
efforts.

In an ideally designed
active
mLearning scenario, collaborative learning efforts and
technology will combine to increase the potential for learning and reduce the size of the outer
EFFECTIVE LEARNING STRATEGIES WITH MOBILE DEVICES

14


ra
nge of learning tasks and skills which individual
s

and group
s of
learners either cannot o
r will
not do (Figure 3, below):


Figure
3
: Increasing learning potential in the
zone of proximal development

The ability to increase learning potential through social collaboration (and, in particular, playing
games or competing) is supported by
van Shaik
&

Burkart’s (201
1
)

recent meta
-
analysis of
research into the learning potential of social animals (including
humans).
That research
demonstrate
s

that species that learn through social interaction and play have a far greater
capacity for overall learning potential. It also showed that individuals who participate in more
frequent learning through social interacti
on demonstrate increased potential for learning
independently.


Sharples et al. (2005) also draw upon
Activity Theory

in an effort to begin the
development of a theory of mLearning. They explore mLearning as a “cultural
-
historic activity
system mediated b
y tools that both constrain and support
[
learners
]

in their goals of
EFFECTIVE LEARNING STRATEGIES WITH MOBILE DEVICES

15


transforming knowledge and skills


(p. 6).
They describe a semiotic layer of learning, in which
cultural tools such as mobile phones mediate specific actions towards a learning objective
.
They also describe a technological layer, in which mobile technologies

function as interactive agents in the process of coming to know, creating a human
-
technology system to communicate, to mediate agreements between learners…and to
aid recall and
reflection
.

(p. 8)

These descriptions of how learners interact with technology and each other in mLearning fit
with
“a social
-
constructivist approach, which views learning as an active process of building
knowledge and skills through practice within a soci
al community


(p. 3). Impedovo (2011)
notes that one of the key concepts of
Activity Theory

is that human activity is “always
mediated


(p. 105) in some form or another as learners attempt to construct an understanding
of reality. In the case of mLearnin
g, it is the mobile technology that mediates interaction within
a learner’s environment while also expanding the possibilities fo
r such interactions. The linking
of
Activity Theory

and mLearning by Koole, Sharples et al. and Impedovo
provide a foundation
for justifying the use of CSAM learning strategies.

Combining social interaction and the affordances of mobile technologies to increase the
range of learning tasks and skill sets that learners could potentially achieve in

Activity Theory
’s

zone of proxima
l development

model is also consistent with the principles of
Flow

theory. In his
presentation at the 11
th

World Conference on Mobile and Contextual Learning, Järvilehto
(2012)
described the principles of
F
low

theory, and its application to mLearning pedagogy.
Flow

theory
was developed by
Csikszentmihalyi

(1997), and focuses on what people can achieve
when they reach an ideal state of concentration and enjoyment. It
describes
how participants
EFFECTIVE LEARNING STRATEGIES WITH MOBILE DEVICES

16


in games (or any

other type of activity, including learning) can get into a
flow zone

where they
become completely engaged with the task at hand.
Csikszentmihalyi

(p. 2)
describes
flow

as

happening

when a person's skills are fully involved in

overcoming a challenge that

is just about
manageable


and notes that this “
acts as a

magnet for learning new skills and increasing
challenges
.”
To get into th
is

level of engagement, the learner must have just the right amount
of stimulation in the form of both interest and challeng
e (Chen, 2006;
Csikszentmihalyi
, 1997;
Järvilehto
, 2012). With too little interest or challenge, the learner becomes bor
e
d and strays off
task to find stimulation elsewhere. With too much challenge, the learner becomes anxious and
will either fail in the endeavor, or give up out of frustration. The
concept of the
flow zone

is
illustrated in Figure 4 (below):


Figure
4
: The
flow zone

in
Flow

theory (Chen, 2006)

Achieving this balance of stimulation and challenge brings the learner into active participation
in knowledge construction and skill development

(Järvilehto, 2012)
.
In addition to the b
alance
between the levels of stimulation and challenge in the specific learning activity, engagement in
EFFECTIVE LEARNING STRATEGIES WITH MOBILE DEVICES

17


collaborative learning also has the potential to bring the learner into a
flow zone
. As
Csikszentmihalyi

(1997) describes, social interaction has its o
wn unique challenges and rewards
that demand the attention of the learner.

A successful interaction involves finding some compatibility between our

goals and
those of the other person or persons, and becoming willing to

invest attention in the
other person's goals.

When these conditions are

met, it is possible to experience the
flow

that comes from optimal

interaction
.

(p. 5)

These aspects of collaborative learning activities can reduce individual boredom. The combined

knowledge, skills and support of a peer group can also mediate the potential for anxiety when
faced with complex learning tasks. Thus, when collaborating on a learning task the individual is
more likely to get into a
flow zone

and thereby succeed in meet
ing the learning objective.
Since
this is the ultimate aim of
CSAM
, it could be said that this learning strategy aims to use mobile
devices to foster collaborative learning in an authentic, situated context, with the aim of
bringing individuals and groups

of learners into the
flow zone

for their learning activity.


One of the ultimate aims of
CSAM strategies

is to reduce the distance between learners,
what they are learning and those with whom they are collaborating in knowledge and skill
development. Thi
s reduction of distance is described by Moore’s (1989, 1991)
Transactional
Distance Theory

(TDT)

as the reduction of physical, psychological and knowledge
-
level gaps
.
Transactional distance

can be managed by controlling either the structure of a learning
program, the dialogue (or interactivity) between the actors involved, or the autonomy of the
individual learner.

EFFECTIVE LEARNING STRATEGIES WITH MOBILE DEVICES

18


Learning activities such as visiting a museum, walking around outside of a
school to
gather scientific data, or exploring physical components of a computer system have the
potential to be highly unstructured activities.
Transactional Distance Theory

postulates that the
more unstructured a learning activity or program is, the hig
her the degree of
transactional
distance

(Park, 2011)
. However, the introduction of mobile devices in CSAM strategies can
mitigate this potential by providing
queues as to what activities learners should engage in, what
artefacts to explore (or create) an
d what data to collect. A prime example of this mitigation can
be seen in the AR waterway exploration application described by Schmitz et al. (2012). That
application’s CSAM strategy focuses learners, who are roaming outside of a traditional
classroom se
tting, on a specific natural
target
. It queues them as to which data are relevant,
prompts them to interact with the data and each other to produce new artefacts (decisions
about environmental protection policies), and helps them to visualize the long
-
ter
m
implications of their decisions.

The type of interaction occurring in CSAM strategies places an emphasis on controlling
the dialogue (or interaction) factor in managing
transactional distance
. Past critics of
technology
-
mediated distance education poi
nted to the static nature of much educational
media as generating a high level of
transactional distance

(Park, 2011)
.
Instructors could
deliver content to remotely located students, but could not interact in response to those
learners’ emerging needs. L
earners could receive the technology
-
mediated content, but could
neither interact with it nor the instructor. However, w
hile groups of learners may be in close
physical proximity in a traditional classroom that does not necessarily mean they are
interact
ing

so there may still be a high degree of
transactional distance

between them.
EFFECTIVE LEARNING STRATEGIES WITH MOBILE DEVICES

19


Emerging mobile technologies change this dynamic by increasing the physical distance at which
learners, their peers and instructors can interact both synchronously and asynchr
onously, and
the number of ways in which that interaction can occur.
While removing learners from the
traditional classroom may increase the physical distance between them and their instructor,
the use of mobile devices can actually reduce overall
transac
tional distance

by allowing for
more frequent and meaningful interactions (Koole, 2009).

Mobile devices can also provide
organization and structure to that interaction, so as to reduce the cognitive load associated
wi
th managing such logistics.
Interacti
on also occurs between learners (or groups of learners)
and the content (or environment).
Using mobile devices to bring the learner into a more
authentic learning context has the aim of reducing
transactional
distance

by making that
content concrete and meaningful, as opposed to abstract (such as in a textbook).

The autonomy of the learner is one aspect of
Transactional Distance Theory

that is
contentious for some critics of its application to mLearning strategies.
Autonomy could be
viewed from the perspective of the individual’s ability to master learning objectives without
assistance or intervention from peers or instructors. In this case, CSAM strategies appear
counterintuitive in that the promote social as oppos
ed to individual effort. However,
Moore
(1989, 1991) points out that as learner autonomy increases, so too does
transactional
distance

and the ultimate objective is to reduce
transactional distance

wherever possible.
This does not mean that promoting an
individual’s ability to learn autonomously is an
undesirable goal

CSAM strategies aim to capitalize on collaborative learning effort
s

to focus
learners, build upon collective skills and ultimately increase the learning potential of the
individual. Autonom
y could also be viewed from the perspective of the amount of choice that
EFFECTIVE LEARNING STRATEGIES WITH MOBILE DEVICES

20


learners have in deciding about learning objectives and paths to meeting
those

objectives.
From this perspective, CSAM strategies have the potential to increase this type of autonomy
.
By freeing learners from the traditional classroom or laboratory, CSAM strategies give them a
broader range of environmental contexts and artefacts to explore and increase the range of
tools and strategies they can avail of in that exploration.
P
ark

(2
011
) notes that several
researchers have pointed out similarities between
Transactional Distance Theory

and
Cultural
-
H
istorical Activity Theory

(as drawn upon by Sharples, et al
. (2005)
)
. She emphasizes that
differences in their treatments of autonomy, social interaction and technological mediation
may simply stem from confusion over contradictory terminology. Overall, CSAM strategies are
strongly supported by
Transactional Distance The
ory
, as they are by both
Activity Theory

and
Flow

theory.



The efficacy of using mobile technologies in CSAM strategies to foster active learning,
flow
and reduction of
transactional distance

also finds support in Kozma’s
position

on the
media effect
iveness debate.
While Clark (1994a, 1994b) argues that media (such as mobile
devices) themselves have no effect upon
learning achievement, Kozma (1994a, 1994b) and
Hastings
&

Tracey (2005) contend that the capabilities of modern technology allow for the
p
ossibility of teaching and learning strategies that would previously have been impossible.
Certainly, without recent advances in mobile technologies the positive effects upon interaction
and
transactional distance

levels generated by
CSAM

strategies would

not be possible.

EFFECTIVE LEARNING STRATEGIES WITH MOBILE DEVICES

21


Conclusion

Selection of appropriate learning strategies requires careful consideration of learning
objectives, learner needs and available instructional resources. The efficacy of a learning
strategy can be gauged by its fit with these elements and its support from
established learning
theory. While mLearning is still an emerging trend in distance and blended learning, it
nevertheless has a wealth of learning theory support for the types of strategies being
developed by practitioners. Collaborative situated active
mLearning strategies attempt to
foster social, content and context interaction so that learners can work together to develop
concrete understandings and skill sets in authentic settings in order to satisfy previously
abstract learning objectives. CSAM str
ategies can take guidance from models such as FRAME,
which are grounded in rigorously tested and well
-
established learning theories such as
Activity
Theory
,
Flow

theory, and
Transactional Distance Theory
.
Effective CSAM strategies use mobile
technologies
and learner interactions to increase the range of potential learning tasks that
students can achieve either individually or in groups. They reduce extraneous cognitive load
and facilitate the ideal balance of challenge and engagement to get learners compl
etely
focused on required learning tasks. And while they may not reduce physical separations, they
strive to reduce the cognitive, ability and social distances between learners and content, their
peers and their instructors.



EFFECTIVE LEARNING STRATEGIES WITH MOBILE DEVICES

22


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