Distance Learners’ Use of Handheld Technologies
Mobile Learning Activity, Changing Study Habits, and the ‘Place’ of Anywhere Learning
This study investigates how and where distance learners use handheld devices and the impact this has on learning habits, access to learning content and quality of work. It analyses the spatial dimension of anytime-anywhere learning and, with a focus on anywhere learning, it explores students’ ongoing negotiation of the flow between and across study locations. The study concludes by proposing two new concepts: the flow of places and place of space. These should help direct the framing of future studies into the places, spaces, and mobility of formal and informal seamless learning. A dataset comprising 446 responses from undergraduate students enrolled at the UK’s largest distance learning university was analysed in respect to three research questions. All age groups, study levels, and disciplines were represented. Five key findings are: most students now use handheld devices for study-related learning; the distribution of study-related learning tasks was similar in all seven study places; there is a strong, statistically-significant correlation between the number of study places in which handheld devices are used and the number of study task types performed; two fifths of students using a handheld device for learning have noticed a change in study habit and benefit to learning; and multiple regression analysis shows three variables (number of study places, number of study tasks, and change in study habits) are predictors of finding it easier to access learning materials and improved quality of learners’ work.
Copyright (c) 2019 Simon Cross, Mike Sharples, Graham Healing, Jim Ellis
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