Mobile Education

Personalised Learning and Assessment in Remote Education: A Guide for Educators and Learners

by Kieran McCartney (Author)
©2021 Monographs XVIII, 166 Pages


Now that remote education has become mainstream, how can we best use mobile technology to promote learning? How can we personalise our assessment of learning remotely?
This book explores these questions and more, considering strategies for using mobile devices for more personalised teaching. The proliferation of mobile technology provides a unique opportunity to enable a wider variety of learning and assessment opportunities for students to help them achieve learning outcomes. The research in this book indicates that students’ proficiency with and awareness of the affordances presented by mobile technology for both learning and assessment outweigh that of educators, and this book seeks to redress this balance.
Originally focused on two further and higher education colleges in Northern Ireland, the strategies for teaching and assessment presented here have wider generalisability for educators in any sector, whether that be in education or specialist training.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title Page
  • Copyright
  • About the author
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Contents
  • List of Figures
  • Foreword
  • Acknowledgements
  • List of Abbreviations
  • Part I Introduction
  • Chapter 1 Purpose of the book
  • Chapter 2 How to use this book
  • Part II How do the differences between students’ and lecturers’ use of MT impact upon teaching, learning and assessment?
  • Chapter 3 ML and the changing behaviours of learners and educators
  • Chapter 4 To what extent is MT and its use integrated into a curriculum?
  • Chapter 5 How does the level of competency with MT differ between and within the learners’ and educators’ populations?
  • Part III How are the choices that students make in relation to learning and assessment influenced by using mobile devices or a PC?
  • Chapter 6 Learning and assessment as separate processes
  • Chapter 7 How do the learning and assessment choices made by those who use MT and a PC differ?
  • Chapter 8 To what extent do learners’ behaviours reflect that of their individual learning and assessment preferences?
  • Part IV Learners’ experiences when using MT as a strategy to facilitate learning and assessment
  • Chapter 9 How does the experience of learning and assessment differ between MT and PC users?
  • Chapter 10 What barriers and enablers exist for students when using mobile devices for learning and assessment?
  • Chapter 11 What limitations and opportunities exist for assessment in relation to MT?
  • Part V What can educators and learners do to introduce personalised education with the use of MT at home?
  • Chapter 12 The differences between educators’ and learners’ use of MT impact upon teaching, learning and assessment
  • Chapter 13 Choices that students make in relation to learning and assessment can be influenced by using mobile devices or a PC
  • Chapter 14 Using MT as a strategy to facilitate learning and assessment results in different learning and assessment experiences
  • Chapter 15 Conclusion
  • Bibliography
  • Index
  • Series Page

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Mike Sharples

During twenty years of research and development in mobile learning we have discovered much about how students learn with mobile devices in classrooms, at home, outdoors and across locations.

The early studies explored how to deliver content to mobile devices. They showed that the new handheld digital assistants and tablet computers were not simply smaller versions of desktop or laptop computers but had distinct affordances for learning. Formatting content for small screens forced educational technologists to think about how to present material for effective learning, such as presenting instructional sequences through animations and short videos. The power of mobile technology to combine media capture (taking photographs, recording audio and video) with data collection and calculation led to outdoor activities such as field trips and multimedia trails supported by handheld devices. In classrooms, students used mobile devices to take notes, perform calculations, visualise data and respond to quiz questions.

The next stage in development of mobile learning came with a realisation that the focus should be on mobility of the learner. Within a classroom, the context of learning is tightly constrained: students sit at tables or desks, their focus is on the teacher and they follow a lesson plan. When students learn at home or outdoors, those constraints are relaxed and changed. The learner has more agency to determine when and how to learn. Students can move across settings – school, outdoors and home – and use mobile devices to continue their learning. An influential paper by Wong and Looi (2011) identified ten elements of seamless learning, where mobile technology can support movement from one context to another. These included learning across time, across locations, between physical and digital worlds and among multiple devices. No longer is the mobile learner restricted to using a single ←xi | xii→handheld device – with cloud-based technology, students can access and share content on many devices from many locations.

Now, mobile learning is being reconceived as learning activities that are embedded into the daily lives of students and lifelong learners. During a typical day, a university student might wake to a radio news item about higher education policy, read a blog about new technology, catch up on coursework over breakfast, watch a recording of the previous day’s lecture, attend classes and take notes, take photos of a science experiment, engage in a short course for interest, share notes with a classmate, add content to a team project and watch some YouTube videos for leisure learning – all with a personal mobile phone or tablet. The interleaving of work and leisure, mixing of media, and movement between curriculum-led and self-motivated learning form the fabric of everyday life for many students and adult learners.

In a project to explore everyday mobile learning, we loaned mobile devices to master’s students for ten months and encouraged them to use the devices in any way they wished to support university studies and informal learning (Corlett, Sharples, Chan and Bull, 2005). A main finding of that project was that students valued having access to course content and timetabling information; however, they saw no need for a dedicated ‘student learning organiser’. Instead, they preferred to integrate the institutional tools with their personal calendars, notes and social media. An implication for the future is that, to be widely adopted, mobile learning technology and content need to be closely aligned with the tools and media that learners prefer to use in their everyday lives.

Most new learning platforms, tools and applications for education are now designed to run on mobile devices as well as laptop and desktop computers. Does that mean mobile learning has become synonymous with e-learning? Although educational technologies may be converging, the contexts and practices of mobile learning are distinctly different to classroom education. As teachers and researchers we need to understand in greater depth how students learn within and across locations, times and social groupings with a variety of technologies. As we discover more about the practices, difficulties and opportunities of mobile learning, we can design curricula that adapt to the personal circumstances of each learner.

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Two issues at the centre of this research into student-centred mobile learning are evaluation and assessment. To design more personalised opportunities for learning we must understand how students learn outside formal settings, how they make use of resources and technologies that are ready-to-hand and how they continue their learning across multiple locations. In our joint paper on meeting the challenges in evaluating mobile learning, Giasemi Vavoula and I propose five principles to guide evaluation (Vavoula and Sharples, 2009):

1. Capture and analyse learning in context, with consideration of learner privacy.

2. Assess the usability of the technology and how it affects the learning experience.


XVIII, 166
ISBN (Softcover)
Publication date
2021 (June)
Education Assessment Learning multi-modal remote personalised Mobile Education Kieran McCartney
Oxford, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, New York, Wien, 2021. XVIII, 166 pp., 13 fig. col., 1 table.

Biographical notes

Kieran McCartney (Author)

Kieran McCartney is a Staff Tutor at The Open University in the Faculty of Wellbeing, Education, Language Studies (WELS) in the School of Education, Childhood, Youth & Sports (ECYS). He also teaches in STEM and at postgraduate level in the area of learning and teaching. Before entering the teaching profession as a lecturer in further and higher education, he profited from a multi-disciplinary career across a variety of management positions in different industries in the private, public and voluntary sectors. He found the skills he used as part of talent management in his various roles were as applicable to education as they had been in industry. Working as a lecturer in further and higher education, he has developed and delivered blended learning in addition to online and distance modules at degree level.


Title: Mobile Education