Mobile Learning through Digital Media Literacy

by Belinha S. de Abreu (Author)
©2017 Textbook XXXIV, 214 Pages


Mobile Learning through Digital Media Literacy proposes media literacy education as a conceptual framework for bridging mobile technologies in teaching and learning. As cell phones have become more advanced and applications more innovative and fitting, candid conversations are taking place as to how technology can be a purposeful tool in the classroom. Mobile technology already attracts students and encourages text-language development; yet its accessibility affords the potential for more extended use, offering enhancement and flexibility for instructional development. In light of a shared vision of collaboration and growth developing globally within educational circles, this book examines mobile learning as a formal literacy, as a productivity environment for creative growth in and out of the classroom, and as an advancement to social learning through online networks. The book surveys media literacy education—both within the classroom and its extended implications—for concerns of civic participation and data privacy, as more educators and policymakers internationally consider the possibilities of connected classrooms and m-learning on a universal scale.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Dedication
  • Contents
  • Foreword (Kat Stewart)
  • Preface (Matteo Stocchetti)
  • Ambivalence and Indeterminacy
  • From the Logic of Knowledge to the Logic of Power
  • References
  • Acknowledgements
  • Introduction
  • References
  • Part I. Linking Mobile Technologies and Digital Media Literacy
  • Chapter 1. Connecting Mobile Learning and Digital Media Literacy
  • Introduction
  • Digital Generation
  • Policy
  • Literacy
  • Media Literacy Education
  • Mobile Technology
  • Social Networking
  • Methods for Learning
  • References
  • Chapter 2. Technology as a Transliteracy: Creativity and Learning
  • Frameworks for Mobile Learning
  • Transformational Change
  • Four Tenets of Media Literacy Education
  • Transdisciplinary Approach: Integrating State and Common Core Standards
  • Information Literacy
  • Creativity and Learning
  • Concluding Thoughts
  • References
  • Chapter 3. Participatory Culture, Civic Engagement, and Equal Access in Practice
  • Participatory Culture
  • Civic Engagement
  • Edcamps
  • Media Literacy Now
  • Equal Access in Practice
  • Divide in Access
  • Divide in Learning
  • References
  • Chapter 4. Privacy, Student Data—Knowledge as Empowerment
  • What is Private?
  • Is Privacy a Luxury Good?
  • Parents, Common Core, and Testing
  • Questions Teachers Ask Themselves
  • Challenging Privacy Concerns
  • Media Literacy Takes Action
  • Article 17 Right to be Forgotten and to Erasure
  • Student Privacy Pledge
  • Privacy and Data in Transition
  • Digital Citizenship
  • References
  • Part II. Global Perspectives on Mobile Technologies: Online Social Networks-Practices and Perception of Youngsters (9–16), Their Teachers and Parents in Portugal
  • Chapter 5. Uses and Practices
  • Introduction
  • Data Instrument
  • The Surveyed Sample
  • Study Restrictions
  • Results
  • Recommendations
  • Web 2.0, Social Media, and Online Social Networks (OSNs)
  • Results
  • Uses of OSN
  • Facebook: Between Daily and Occasional Use
  • Young People Do Not Give Up
  • Youngsters Start Using OSB Before 13
  • Practices on Social Networks
  • OSN as a Source of News, But Doubtful Credibility
  • News Consumption Varies With Age and Gender
  • Techniques to Verify the Accuracy of News
  • Teachers and Parents Use OSN as News Source
  • Publishing on OSN is an Adult Activity
  • Teachers, Youth, and Parents Share More Than Post
  • “Comment” is Synonymous With “Like”?
  • The OSN as the Preferred Way to Communicate
  • Communicating Through the OSN
  • Main Conversation Issues Among Young People
  • Three Participation Profiles
  • The Youth’s “Friends”
  • “Being a Friend” Does Not Mean “Talking To”
  • Conclusions
  • References
  • Chapter 6. Perceptions of Risks and Opportunities
  • Introduction
  • 35% of Portuguese Youngster Were Harassed on OSN
  • What Upset Youth on OSN
  • Fake Profiles: Innocence vs. Purposeful Harassment
  • Youth and Adults React to Online Harassment
  • OSN: Young Users/Fearing Adults
  • Concern Increases With Information on Risks or Not?
  • Information to Help Keep Students Safe
  • Conclusions
  • References
  • Chapter 7. Learning Perspectives From Students, Teachers, and Parents
  • Introduction
  • The Enlargement of Literacy
  • Adults’ Positions in Relation to OSN Use by the Young
  • Educational Potential of OSN: Teachers’ Perceptions
  • OSN Use With Educational Purposes at School
  • OSN Learning in Non-Formal/Informal Settings
  • Learn to Use the OSN Through the OSN
  • Learning in the OSN: Parents’ Perspectives
  • OSN Use in Schools: Desired, But Limited
  • Conclusions
  • References
  • Chapter 8. Concluding Thoughts
  • References
  • Appendices
  • Appendix A. US-DOE National Education Plan Conclusions and Recommendations
  • Section 1: Learning
  • Section 2: Teaching
  • Section 3: Leadership
  • Section 4: Assessment
  • Section 5: Infrastructure
  • Appendix B. Student Privacy Pledge Signers
  • Appendix C. Student Data Privacy, Accessibility, and Transparency Act (MODEL LEGISLATION)
  • (Reprinted with Permission: Foundation for Excellence in Education, April 2015)
  • Summary
  • Model Legislation
  • Index
  • Series Index

← x | xi →


Kat Stewart

Senior Director, NCTA Foundation

As a science fiction fan, I remember the first time I saw Han Solo being frozen in carbonite. It was terrifying and fascinating. I wondered if Han would be okay, but, more importantly, what would happen to the Rebellion while he was in stasis. In the year he was frozen, his world changed. After waking, it took time for him to catch up and understand all that had happened while he was asleep. Him playing catch-up reminds me how quickly things change here on Earth. Imagine if I took a 20-year nap in carbonite. I would awake today to a completely different world. The internet has evolved to be our main source of information and communication. Instead of flip phones, there are smartphones. Not that people use the phone to talk to each other, they text instead. Flying cars aren’t a thing, but self-driving ones are real. I’ll have to learn all about social media and start taking pictures of my lunch. And what happened to the Spice Girls?

With all these changes, I’ll need to figure out how to participate in the digital world. Getting my hands on a mobile device is relatively easy, as is downloading apps and jumping online. Good thing those are designed to be used intuitively. (Once I learn how to swipe, of course.) The big challenge will be understanding how to act and behave while using these digital media platforms. It’s the same challenge that students are faced with today. While ← xi | xii → the world has changed dramatically in the last 20 years, schools have mostly remained the same. That’s why this book’s look at media literacy education and mobile learning is so important.

For more than a decade, my work has focused on the intersection of media, technology, and education with special emphasis on digital citizenship education, including medial literacy skills, and 21st-century readiness for every student. I’ve had a ring-side seat to watch the evolution of technology and the internet. As I was developing a standards-based curriculum to teach digital citizenship concepts, Belinha De Abreu was at the top of the list to appear in the curriculum’s videos as a content matter expert to explain the tectonic shift that’s taking place. With her tenure as a teacher at the K–12 level, as well as the university level, Belinha is uniquely able to temper academic theory with the reality of classroom learning and lead this book’s exploration of mobile learning through a media literacy lens.

Belinha and I have presented together at numerous conferences, including SXSWedu in Austin, Texas, on many topics such as media literacy, privacy, and digital citizenship. We have long discussions about the role of technology in education, and she’s taught me to look at things from a teacher’s perspective. It should be all about the students; all about their learning. Students’ lives revolve around mobile devices, with many getting a smartphone or tablet in elementary school, so it’s time to meet the students where they are and leverage the devices they use everyday.

The experience of mobile is different from sitting at a computer or in front of a TV. The way you interact with mobile devices is a more intimate experience than when using a mouse— touching, swiping, using your fingers to zoom in to dive deeper into the content—it’s much more active and interactive. The app developers are crafty in their use of risk and reward, enticing the user to attempt new things, to not be afraid to fail, and to keep trying until you solve the puzzle, unlock the next level, or gain a prize. You’re given an achievable goal; it’s hard to reach, but you have many incentives to keep trying until you make it. And this doesn’t just happen in games; this type of risk and reward is also evident in social media, encouraging you to post a picture or status that will garner the most likes or more followers. It’s also seen in apps or on websites that call for activism or joining friends to support a cause. Because the content is designed to provoke specific behavioral responses, using mobile devices in education increases the possibility of capturing the students’ attention and motivating them to act. This potential is discussed throughout the book, particularly in Chapter 3. ← xii | xiii →

Since mobile content is different, teaching and learning with these devices must also be different. It’s not enough to know how to make the app work; by bringing in media literacy concepts, students can begin to understand that someone made the world that lives within the app. When a fifth-grader is swimming with whales inside a virtual reality simulation, she is probably in awe of her watery surroundings, the giant creatures she’s observing, and the unfamiliar sounds she’s hearing. But as this student applies her media literacy skills, she’ll keep in mind that virtual reality is not actually reality and may only offer a limited or skewed view of the whales and their habitat. This simulation is a great starting point to learning about whales. Apps and website such as this can be wonderful teaching tools. They let the teacher be creative when tackling a topic and can ignite curiosity in students, motivate them to dig deeper, and encourage them to create content of their own. With these platforms, students also have the potential to make a huge impact on the world. The ice bucket challenge, for example, started as a small campaign and grew to be a worldwide phenomenon that raised millions of dollars for research. Videos going viral, ideas being shared, or funds being raised, the possibilities with mobile are only limited by your imagination. As this book applies a media literacy framework to using mobile for learning, it also talks about the value of creativity when using the mobile content.

While mobile technologies and learning have many benefits, there are certain considerations that give me, and many others, pause. Data privacy, for instance, is such a hot topic an entire chapter of this book is dedicated to it. Now I’m perfectly fine with trading some of my information for a more personalized experience, but I do this as an educated consumer who takes the time to review policies and understand what data is being used and how. Students need to understand this too. They’re using mobile at an impressive scale and doing remarkable things with it. They’re creating content, and not just videos that they hope will go viral; they’re also writing code to make their own apps. They’re constantly connected with friends and with people from around the world. They’re also active participants in communities that support their passions and work together to effect change. It’s an exciting time. And it makes the discussions in this book about how to teach students to be mindful about their data and how to manage their digital footprints in smart and effective ways even more important.

So much is happening in the mobile space—devices are becoming smaller and more affordable, schools are increasing their bandwidth and access, and the number of apps available is increasing exponentially. Mobile has made ← xiii | xiv → life easier and will continue to change the world in unexpected ways. I’m glad to see education is beginning to leverage the devices and applications students are using every day. To move this needle further, it’s important to consider how media literacy can offer a framework for the development of mobile learning in the classroom. This book plays a significant role as catalyst for the next step in this journey and makes me excited to see what happens in the next 20 years.

← xiv | xv →


Matteo Stocchetti

Principal Lecturer, PhD,

Department of Culture and Communication,
Arcada University of Applied Sciences

When Belinha asked me to write the preface for her new book the first question that came to my mind was: does anybody still read prefaces nowadays?

The digital age, among other things, is the age of performativity (knowledge appreciated for its relation with power instead of truth) and speed—the speed of light that governs the composition, decomposition, and re-composition of reality in the many aspects of digitization.

The reality that gets hammered out by the combination of speed and performativity has violent connotations that can be appreciated if one thinks that the difference between a slap and a caress is precisely speed, and that performativity is a fundamental dimension in the distinction between independent and corporate research.

The elements of violence associated with the enforcement of the digital turn in education and elsewhere are overlooked only because we are getting used to them. Powerless knowledge and the knowledges of the powerless are suppressed by the need of performative knowledge that is all the more urgent the more the technocratic management of society fails to deliver its promises. Reflective processes that require slowness in intellectual work, in interpersonal relations, in teaching, etc., are increasingly challenged and sometimes vanishing because slowness itself has become rare and subversive: a luxury and ← xv | xvi → a risk accessible to a select few. In the digital age, speed is a feature of the technological infrastructure enforced on “human resource.” In this development, the “goal”—people—becomes a tool—resources—in the preservation of a socio-political order, anachronistically, but still fundamentally, based on the myths of technological progress. The adaptation of human processes to the speed of the machinery is only one aspect in this process of substitution: a sign that instrumental reason ultimately rules the logic of late capitalism. Slowness violates this subordination, violates the logic of instrumental reason, and is therefore experienced as an exclusive privilege or an act of subversion.

In these circumstances, reading prefaces—as you are doing now—becomes a small act of subversion because it challenges both performativity and speed. It challenges performativity because you will not find a summary of the book in this text. It also challenges speed because it slows you down and, perhaps, it takes your attention somewhere else. But it is also an act in some measure defining social identities: the relative position of an individual as defined by the coordinates of symbolic and cultural capital in society.

The second thought I had after Belinha’s kind request was that perhaps there was a point that she wanted me to make for those among us indulging in the luxury of reading prefaces—and de facto, if not in principle, rejecting the performativity and the incitation to speed of the digital age. I spent a fair amount of time thinking about what this point could be. What is it that should be written for those who can take the time and have the curiosity to read what most would consider safe enough to skip?

The social identity or relative positioning of the reader connects with Belinha’s book in at least two aspects. The first and rather explicit one is the inherent ambivalence of mobile technology in education. The second aspect, more implicit, is about the shift from the logic of knowledge to the logic of power in the resolution of this ambivalence in educational practices.

Ambivalence and Indeterminacy


XXXIV, 214
ISBN (Hardcover)
ISBN (Softcover)
Publication date
2018 (January)
digital media literacy mobile learning social learning m-learning mobile technology media literacy literacy education formal literacy social networks
New York, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Frankfurt am Main, Oxford, Wien, 2017. XXXIV, 214 pp.

Biographical notes

Belinha S. de Abreu (Author)

Belinha S. De Abreu is a media literacy educator and educational technology specialist in Connecticut. Dr. de Abreu holds a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction, with a focus on media literacy, from the University of Connecticut. She is the author and editor of several publications, including Global Media Literacy in a Digital Age; Media Literacy in Action: Theoretical and Pedagogical Perspectives; and Media Literacy, Social Networking, and the Web 2.0 Environment for the K–12 Educator. Vitor Tomé, Ph.D. in education (2008) and post-Ph.D. in communication studies (2015), is a professional journalist, a teacher trainer (pre-service and in-service), and a researcher on media information literacy and on journalism. Currently he is developing a research project on digital citizenship education involving children (aged three to nine), their teachers, parents, and the community.


Title: Mobile Learning through Digital Media Literacy
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