Virtual School Meanderings

January 8, 2011

Mobile Learning

Sometime in 2010, back in early November I believe, the following eSchool News item came through my inbox.

Dennis Pierce In this week’s news: Mobile learning appears to be reaching a tipping point, thanks to a confluence of factors that include low prices, a plethora of options, and more buy-in from parents and educators. 

Also, blended learning, which combines the best elements of face-to-face and online instruction, is on the rise; educators debate the merits of engineering standards for K-12 schools; and an Arkansas school board member demonstrates how not to use Facebook as a communications tool.

Got any thoughts about these or other ed-tech issues? We’d love to hear from you. Send me your reactions, or leave them in the comments section of our stories.


Dennis Pierce, Editor

e Top Story of the Week
White Spacer Survey: Mobile learning at a tipping point Survey: Mobile learning at a tipping point
According to a recent national survey, access to mobile technology in the classroom has more than tripled among high schools students in the past three years–and even more interesting, parents say they are more likely…[ Read More ]

I saved this entry at the time because I was beginning to think about mobile learning more and more in relation to K-12 online learning, so I wanted to re-visit the topic here in this space when I had the chance to reflect a bit more.

You see, to date my considerations of mobile learning had been limited. In this space, I had the opportunity to review some of the mobile learning applications that the Florida Virtual School (FLVS) had released (see Revu4U, meStudying: Albegra I [plus my doc student’s review], and meStudying: Reading for College Success).  In those reviews I had used terms like narrated PowerPoints and test prep program to describe the apps.  This was based on some grander vision of mobile learning that would allow these devices to be used in more substantive ways, for example a history course that was based on Sid Meier’s Civilization or an economics class based on Lemonade Tycoon.  I guess the grander vision that I had in mind when I reviewed these apps was closer to the kinds of things I saw Chris Dede doing with handheld devices that started in the early 2000s (see Handheld Devices for Ubiquitous Learning Project, Ubiquitous Handhelds: Sifting Knowledge Through Our Fingertips: Video and Harvard Augmented Reality Project). However, the more I have been thinking about this, playing around with these devices and apps, and interacting with folks who have a more experience with mobile learning than I do I am starting to think that this grander vision may not be the only option.

For example, the folks at Emantras have a Mobile Learning Blog…  And a few weeks ago they posted an entry entitled “Mobile Learning – Moving Beyond Content Delivery.”  I found this entry quite interesting, as it forced me to think about mobile learning beyond the formal environment that I have become accustomed to within the K-12 online learning world.  It also forced me to consider that there may be ways in which we can formalize some of the informal learning opportunities that these devices provide – in a way that wasn’t quite as extensive as the work Dede has done.

There was also a second entry that caught my attention – 7 Learning Models for Mobile Learning.  These seven models included:

  1. Assessment – A traditional method of measuring comprehension, educators traditionally create pre- and post-assessments for students and tailor learning to the specific needs of the students. Mobile learning can be used to create similar assessments which measure comprehension, and benchmarking.
  2. Remedial – Additional exercises are often required to reinforce some lessons to students who fare poorly. By providing access to visual guides, repetitive exercises and practical examples. Mobile learning can help provide remedial learning inputs to students who need it.
  3. Test Prep – Mobile learning can be easily adapted to design multiple choice tests and fill-in-the-blank answers. By constant review of test prep material, students can ensure better preparation for exams.
  4. Index – Mobile learning being accessible anywhere, anytime, is gainfully used in providing easy access to lists, indices and how-to guides. These serve as an excellent quick reference for learners to get immediate answers to questions pertaining to their subjects.
  5. Guides – Most educative materials comes with some memorization requirements be it formulae, dates, or diagrams. Creating guides which can be revised separately before an exam, or reviewed in conjunction with learning material can enable better comprehension.
  6. Collaborative – Mobile learning can help students exchange and share information using technology. But facilitating this, learning can be through sharing between peer groups, experts, and mentors.
  7. Supplemental – Supportive material inputs like examples, and case studies which supplement the main chapter can be introduced for further reading and better understanding of the key subject. Mobile learning delivers content in small nuggets making it ideal for supplementary content delivery.

In reflecting on this list, and the three FLVS apps that I have reviewed, it could easily be argued that there was more merit to these apps than I first gave credit.  For example, the Revu4U app is designed to be a test prep program that allows students to get ready for the multiple-choice portion of exams in Algebra Readiness (free),  AP English Language, AP English Literature, AP Microeconomics, and AP Psychology (and yes, I did break down and pay the $4.99 for each of the AP subject areas).  The meStudying: Algebra I app is a combination of a test prep program and a guide program, while meStudying: Reading is a test prep program that also contains supplemental material in the form of a series of podcasts and a guide .

In looking at what else is available from FLVS and what is coming down the pipe, I notice that they have a version of the meStudying: Algebra I and meStudying: Frog Dissection for the netbook.  I also see that they are announcing a meStudying: AP Art History iPhone/iPad app that is coming soon.  I am hoping that I’ll be able to get promotional codes for all three of these apps, so that I can review them on this blog.  In the meantime, I am going to try to search for some apps that I think meet some of the other seven models outlined by the Emantras folks.


  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Scott McLeod, Daniel Taylor. Daniel Taylor said: Mobile Learning […]

    Pingback by Tweets that mention Mobile Learning « Virtual School Meanderings -- — January 8, 2011 @ 4:01 pm | Reply

  2. […] a follow-up to my earlier entry on Mobile Learning, this came through my inbox on Thursday and I wanted to pass it on. For those who are unfamilar, […]

    Pingback by Mobl21 Beta For Android And Blackberry Is Here! « Virtual School Meanderings — January 8, 2011 @ 6:34 pm | Reply

  3. […] This showed up in my inbox yesterday.  I post it here because I recently discovered that the Florida Virtual School (FLVS) has created two apps two date that are available through the Intel AppUp Center (see Mobile Learning with FLVS!).  I am hoping to be able to get promotional codes to review these two apps, as I have their iTunes apps (particularly now with my expanding view of Mobile Learning). […]

    Pingback by Make Your New Year’s Resolutions At The Intel AppUp Center « Virtual School Meanderings — January 14, 2011 @ 5:32 pm | Reply

  4. We appreciate your interest in the apps gWhiz has created for Florida Virtual Schools. The meStudying: Reading for College Success and meStudying: Algebra 1 apps have been well-received, and we look forward to continued success with meStudying: Frog Dissection and meStudying AP Art History. We would be happy to make these apps available for your review. gWhiz believes in using cutting-edge technology to rework traditional textbook material into a format accessible to a 21st century audience. By marrying old-fashioned printed content with the smartphone interface, we are able to create compelling, interactive applications that speak to today’s tech-savvy user. In this way, we seek to contribute to a changing learning environment in which students not only progress academically but also gain effective life skills along the way.

    Comment by Debbie Fales — January 15, 2011 @ 8:06 pm | Reply

    • Debbie, as I mentioned in my entry, I have already reviewed the current apps (see Revu4U, meStudying: Albegra I [plus my doc student’s review], and meStudying: Reading for College Success). Although, I have to be honest and say that the more I learn about mobile learning, the more my views of these apps change for the positive (as my reviews were somewhat negative, or at least critical).

      I would be very interested in the opportunity to review the meStudying: Frog Dissection and meStudying: AP Art History apps when they come available. I know in the past, the Florida Virtual School (FLVS) had provided me with promotional codes to use to access these apps. I suppose in the end, it doesn’t matter if it is gWhiz or FLVS that provided the codes, I’m just happy to spend a month of so really playing around with the app before writing about it on this blog.

      I’ll send you an e-mail directly about this.

      Comment by mkbnl — January 15, 2011 @ 8:11 pm | Reply

  5. […] out loud about my concern for misusing/overusing the term mobile learning, mlearning.  In fact, a recent post and nudging by Michael Barber got me to start putting some thoughts down that I’ve been mulling over for a while.  Plus, I […]

    Pingback by Viral Notebook » Defining mobile learning isn’t enough — January 19, 2011 @ 5:23 pm | Reply

  6. […] do. And while I have been critical of some things in the past (e.g., their mobile apps – see Mobile Learning), as I have come to understand those fields better I have gained some appreciated for even the […]

    Pingback by Online Learning And Game-Based Learning « Virtual School Meanderings — January 26, 2011 @ 1:24 pm | Reply

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