Mobile Access to Learning and Teaching at the University of Northampton

Tag Archives: Business

The use of mobiles in informal learning


In this paper, the authors surveyed a group of smartphone and PDA “enthusiasts” (users confident in using mobile technologies), to discover current learning practices that involve the use of mobile devices, and to identify potential learning activities made possible by the technology. The responses evidence a range of activities, supporting both intentional and opportunistic learning, from looking things up, to recording and taking notes, to (co-)constructing new knowledge.
The paper divides these learning applications into the following categorisations: referential, location aware, reflective, data collection, constructive and administrative, with the following qualifiers for each: individual, collaborative, situated, distributed and interactive.


There are no specific ingredients for this review, apart from a connected mobile device, but it might give you some ideas of the capabilities of the technologies, and the activities that your more technically confident learners might already be doing.


Clough, G., Jones, A. C., McAndrew, P. & Scanlon, E. (2007). Informal learning with PDAs and smartphones. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 24(5), pp. 359–371.
Available online at: [Accessed Jan 2011]


Short-form podcasts to support assessment


Lecturers on undergrad and postgrad Commerce programmes recorded a series of short podcast episodes (10-20 minutes long), covering requirements and guidance for assessments. These recordings were supplementary to the existing teaching materials, and the short format was deliberately chosen to allow a more flexible mode of consumption.
The project was evaluated using surveys, focus groups and interviews with staff. Most students used the recordings to revise and reinforce information, and there is evidence to suggest that it was useful for the large numbers of students for whom English is not their first language. It is interesting to note though that most students preferred to listen to the podcasts at home (rather than using a mobile device), where they had more control over their learning environment and could “concentrate” better.

You will need:

  • audio recording equipment (microphone, headphones) and software (e.g. Audacity)
  • a podcasting tool/web server to host your recordings (you can do this in the VLE)
  • your students will need either a portable mp3 player, or access to a desktop PC with a sound card, and speakers or headphones.


Sutton-Brady, C., Scott, K.M., Taylor, L., Carabetta, G., & Clark, S. (2009) The value of using short-form podcasts to enhance learning and teaching. ALT-J: Research in Learning Technology 17 (3), 219-32.
Available online at: [Accessed Jan 2011]