Online and Mobile Learning

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REL Midwest

Online and Mobile Learning

Sheila Rodriguez, Research Associate

Lisa Shimmel, Policy Analyst

November 2011


REL Midwest


About REL Midwest

Our role is to help educators and policymakers in the
Midwest region to identify and apply scientifically valid
research to their decision making. We do this by

Collecting and interpreting data to assess regional needs.

Developing and delivering technical assistance tailored to
local needs.

Engaging in state policy outreach activities.

Conducting events that present the latest evidence on
selected topics.

Planning and implementing short
term applied research and
development projects.

Conducting long
term research studies.

Introduction: Online Learning

Online learning is an integral component of technology
integration and has grown in recent years.

According to Watson (2010), schools and districts are
realizing potential benefits of this form of learning and
are finding new ways to reach students.

Online learning has taken many forms, but merging it
with face
face instruction and other kinds of
educational technology is an area that has seen rapid
growth (Watson et al., 2010).

Research on the effectiveness of technology is mixed.


Importance of Technology

Some evidence of positive effects of
technology (Pruitt
Mentle, 2008)

Improved access to information, enhanced
productivity, improved simulation capabilities.

No Child Left Behind

Spurred interest among educators on how to
integrate technology for increase student

National Educational Technology Plan


Achievement and Digital Learning

Study by Lowther, Strahl, Inan, & Ross (2008)

Students were more engaged in research and project
based learning.

Student achievement was mixed.

Program students outperformed or performed as well as
control students on technology assessments, and in
some cases control students outperformed program


Online Learning and Effectiveness

Online education can facilitate skills such as self
directed learning, time management, and
technology literacy in problem solving (Watson,

A review on the benefits of online learning
(Cavanaugh, Barbour & Clark, 2009) suggests:

Higher levels of motivation, expanding educational
access, providing high
quality learning opportunities,
and administrative efficiency.


Policies Around Technology

There is limited research on policies around
technology integration that can be used to inform
policy decisions.

School leaders are faced with being instructional
and technology leaders.

Many challenges exist because of limited resources
and budget constraints.

Responsibilities include promoting safe Internet
use policies, protecting student privacy, and
adhering to copyright laws (Garland, 2009).


Introduction Mobile Learning

Mobile technology has become ubiquitous in the
lives of American children (Smith, 2011).

The New Media Consortium’s (NMC) Horizon
Project identifies mobiles as one of the two
emerging technologies that are likely to have a
large impact on teaching, learning, research, or
creative expression on the near
term horizon
(likely to enter into the mainstream for schools
within the next 12 months) (Johnson, Smith,
Willis, Levine, & Haywood, 2011).


Mobile Learning

Mobile learning can be broadly defined as
any educational provision delivered through
mobile technology.

Mobile learning utilizes a wide range of
devices and a growing repertoire of
(EDUCAUSE, 2010)


Mobile Learning

Five types of mobile learning activities (Degeen &
Rothwell, 2010)

Learning management (e.g., viewing grades, retrieving

Supportive (e.g., facilitating communication between
students and teachers).

Based (e.g., delivering new content on mobile

Based (e.g., delivering multimedia content that
is time

and place

Collaborative (e.g., group chats monitored by the


Potential Benefits Mobile Learning

Improved access to information. Mobile technology offers
potential to realize the anytime, anyplace learning
Hulme, 2005; Shuler, 2009; Traxler, 2007).

Supporting personalized instruction and learning.
Instruction can be adaptable to individual and diverse
learners (Traxler, 2007).

Improving learning through social interactions (Shuler

Reaching disadvantaged learners (Watkins, 2009, Traxler,
2007, Shuler 2009).

Reaching children in remote regions (Traxler, 2007).


Challenges Mobile Learning

Perceived negative aspects (GSMA, 2011;
Shuler, 2009; Wallace, 2011)

Distraction to classroom learning

Inappropriate use or unethical behavior

Potential physical health risks

Data security and privacy concerns

Usability and technical challenges (Wallace,
2011; Park, 2011)

Some physical limitations

Various technical challenges


Effectiveness of Mobile Learning

Lack of rigorous research in the field,
particularly in the K
12 setting in the U.S.

Some evidence exists from rigorous research
studies conducted outside the U.S

Two studies in Chile tested the effectiveness of a
Mobile Computer Supported Collaborative Learning
System (Cortez et al., 2004; Zurita & Nussbaum,

One study in Taiwan examined the effectiveness of
Short Messaging Service (SMS) on second language
acquisitions (Lu, 2008).


Effectiveness of Mobile Learning

Initial research evidence from the K

field in the U.S.

Preliminary results from Project K
Nect: Cell
phones equipped with Internet and a range of
learning applications can help increase students’
collaboration and motivation, and improve their
math skills (Project Tomorrow, 2010).


Mobile Learning

Initial research evidence from the K

field in the U.S.

In another experiment in a Texas district : Fifth graders
used Go Know software on specially equipped cell
phones (referred to as MLDs) provided to them by the
district, and this cohort of students scored higher in
math and science (Dickenson & Schad, 2010).

Project iRead at California’s Escondido Union School
District’s (EUSD): Teachers use iPod Touches to
improve reading processes and students experienced
two years of reading growth in six months .



Lisa Shimmel




20 N. Wacker Dr., Ste. 1231

Chicago, IL 60606

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