Mobile Learning Blog
UC Discovery Grant
What is Mobile Learning?
Mobile learning is the use of portable, electronic devices to facilitate education in informal or semi-structured settings
Our goal is to design and implement an infrastructure for mobile learning applications specific to K-12 engineering education outside of the classroom. By using user-centered design methods, we will gain insight into the needs of students, teachers, and parents that will aid us in the design process.
Mobile devices such as modern cell phones, smart phones and PDAs (Personal Digital Assistants) have the potential to provide K-12 students and teachers with access to learning resources un-tethered from the constraints of traditional school infrastructures; as yet, this potential is poorly understood. With nearly 85% of a student's time spent outside of the classroom, there is abundant opportunity to transform daily events into meaningful learning opportunities that contribute to and complement a student's overall education. Our research focuses on the opportunities provided by mobile devices to enhance engineering education at the elementary level. At this stage, students learn the fundamental building blocks of engineering through math, science and technology learning. During these early years, engineering education often consists of real world observations of scientific principles, best experienced outside of the traditional school setting. Out-of-classroom experiences can offer students information learning opportunities to engage in the discovery of scientific phenomena, to use their inquiry skills, and to participate in active discourse with peers.
We employed a user-centered approach using qualitative research methods in order to first understand the needs and values of students, educators, and parents. We collected data through teacher interviews, student workshops, and observations of children at local science activities. This data was analyzed to extract key findings, interesting observations, and underlying needs. The needs that we extracted were sorted into groups so that we were ultimately able to identify twelve need themes that were relevant to students, educators, and parents. Using the identified needs, we were able to make design recommendations and come up with design principles for a mobile learning infrastructure.
In the future, we plan to develop and prototype a mobile learning infrastructure specific to K-12 engineering education outside of the classroom. Our prototype will be tested in workshops by fourth and fifth grade students.