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The field of mobile learning research is still relatively nascent, and most of the existing studies examine the use of mobile technology in higher education settings. In general, findings indicate that learners who learn using mobile devices are more effective at their jobs, learn more efficiently, and are more motivated to learn than those who are taught using traditional methods.

Key Findings

  • The use of mobile learning apps can positively impact learning effectiveness (Han & Shin, 2016)

  • Mobile apps can provide learners with personalized learning that enhances their motivation and encourages their continued efforts (Chung, Hwang, & Lai, 2019)

  • Learners in the workplace can use mobile apps to support their job performance (Hardyman et al., 2013)

  • Learners with access to mobile apps often learn more quickly than those who are in instructor-led classes (Oberg & Daniels, 2013)

  • Users of a mobile learning app were more satisfied with their learning, experienced lower cognitive load, and performed significantly better than those in a traditional classroom

Annotated Resources

Chung, C.J., Hwang, G.J., & Lai, C.L. (2019). A review of experimental mobile learning research in 2010–2016 based on the activity theory framework. Computers & Education, 129, 1-13.

This meta-analysis of existing research reviewed six years of experimental mobile learning studies and specifically examined research through the lens of the activity theory framework.

Han, I. & Shin, W.S. (2016). The use of a mobile learning management system and academic achievement of online students. Computers & Education, 102, 79-89.

This empirical study examined college students’ acceptance of mobile learning and their academic achievements and demonstrated that the use of a mobile LMS positively influenced online students' academic achievement.
Interesting points from the article:
- Male students were 24% more likely to use a mobile LMS than female students
- Students in their 20s were 29% more likely to use a mobile LMS than students in their 40s and 56% more likely than students in their 50s
- Individual background, psychological characteristics, and external factors did not have any influence on the effect of using a mobile LMS on academic achievement

Hardyman, W., Bullock, A., Brown, A. et al. (2013). Mobile technology supporting trainee doctors’ workplace learning and patient care: an evaluation. BMC Medical Education, 13(6).

In this study, medical students were able to more effectively and efficiently medicate patients to reduce pain and more quickly call for specific assessments, thanks to a learning app that shared medical textbooks in a digital format.

Kim, H.J., Yi, P., & Hong, J.I. (2020). Students’ academic use of mobile technology and higher-order thinking skills: The role of active engagement. Education Sciences, 10(3).

The results from this study of ~500 college students suggest that the academic use of mobile technology influences students’ higher-order thinking skills directly, in addition to their learning effort and active engagement in courses.

Oberg, A. & Daniels, P. (2013). Analysis of the effect a student-centred mobile learning instructional method has on language acquisition. Computer Assisted Language Learning, 26.

In a study of 122 college students, researchers found that learners who used mobile devices to learn independently scored significantly higher than those students who were taught in-person.

Sung, E. & Mayer, R. E. (2013). Online multimedia learning with mobile devices and desktop computers: An experimental test of Clark’s methods-not-media hypothesis. Computers in Human Behavior.

This article outlined a study that found that users who learned with mobile devices (in this case, iPads) were more motivated to learn than their peers who used a desktop computer. This study also provides preliminary evidence for the mobility principle: people are more motivated to persist in learning when they use mobile devices in informal environments rather than desktop computers in formal environments.

Zhonggen, Y., Ying, Z., Zhichun, Y., & Wentao, C. (2019). Student satisfaction, learning outcomes, and cognitive loads with a mobile learning platform. Computer Assisted Language Learning, 32(4), 323-341.

In a multiphase study that examined the use of a mobile learning application in a college setting, researchers concluded that mobile learning app users were more satisfied with their learning, experienced lower cognitive load with the app, and performed significantly better than their app-less counterparts.