Mobile Access to Learning and Teaching at the University of Northampton

Tag Archives: Social Sciences

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]


Mobiles for supporting language learning


This paper discusses the use of mobile devices to help language learners by supporting the learning process referred to as ‘noticing’ – that is, observing and recording points about the second language that aid the learning process. Mobile devices are particularly suited to this as they allow immediate, contextual recording in a range of formats (audio recording, text-based notes, pictures of written language e.g. posters, signs).
It also discusses how this data might be collected and organised, and used to inform teachers and researchers about models of language learning, and learner needs.

You will need:

  • A mobile device with recording capability, preferably including audio – this might be a smartphone, a dictaphone or a video camera
  • A ‘language diary’ environment where students can collate and reflect on their observations, e.g. a VLE or e-portfolio


Kukulska-Hulme, A. & Bull, S. (2009). Theory-based support for mobile language learning: noticing and recording. International Journal of Interactive Mobile Technologies 3(2), pp. 12–18.
Available online at: [Accessed Jan 2011]