Implementing Mobile Learning Within Personal Learning Environments: A Study of Two Online Courses

Keywords: mobile learning, personal learning environment, social media, open university


This article presents a case-study of two distance learning courses, in order to address the question of universal adoption of mobile devices and applications by students, and the impact of these devices in personal learning environments (PLEs). First, a critical discussion of the value of these concepts in the current technological context was carried out, followed by an analysis of their impact on educational use, based on data collected in online courses on physics and statistics at Universidade Aberta, the Portuguese Open University. The results indicated that all students have adopted mobile learning, and the make-up of an individual’s PLE depends more on the learning resources available rather than on gender or age. These findings can help provide more efficient ways to implement learning by connecting current social needs to learners’ mobile PLEs, particularly when flexibility of time and space are of utmost importance. Further studies at the Portuguese Open University will address a larger and more balanced sample of students across more course units.

Author Biographies

José Bidarra, Universidade Aberta, CIAC-Universidade do Algarve

José Bidarra has a PhD in Educational Communications by Universidade Aberta (the Portuguese Open University), where he is currently Professor with Habilitation in the Department of Science and Technology. He is also co-author of the virtual pedagogical model used at Universidade Aberta. His current research focus mainly on the application of multimedia and digital media in distance education, including ebooks, games and simulations.

Nuno Sousa, Universidade Aberta, INESC-Coimbra

Nuno Sousa has a PhD in Physics, Mathematics and Computer Science by the Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen and is a Professor at the Portuguese Open University. His research interests include physics, statistics, operations research and optimization in problems relating to urbanism and transportation.


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How to Cite
Bidarra, J., & Sousa, N. (2020). Implementing Mobile Learning Within Personal Learning Environments: A Study of Two Online Courses . The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 21(4), 181-198.
Research Articles