Book Image

Moodle for Mobile Learning

By : Mark Aberdour
Book Image

Moodle for Mobile Learning

By: Mark Aberdour

Overview of this book

Mobile devices have become ubiquitous and offer many new possibilities for learning. Moodle, when combined with a mobile device, opens up a new world of possibilities to teachers, instructors, and training professionals to develop their courses. The learning experience can be hugely improved by playing to the strengths of mobile devices, and Moodle for Mobile Learning helps you do just that."Moodle for Mobile Learning" is a practical, hands-on guide that provides you with ideas and step-by-step exercises that will help you leverage the features of mobile devices in your Moodle course designs. It also aims at providing you with hands-on knowledge in creating mlearning courses so that you can create your own effective mobile learning interactions.Looking at the underlying theory of mobile learning, "Moodle for Mobile Learning" aims to enable you to apply this to course design using Moodle. Organized into key sectors including schools, further and higher education, and workplace learning, this book will take you through a number of clear, practical recipes that will help you to take advantage of mobile technology in your Moodle course design.You will learn how to develop your mobile learning strategy and whether to use a mobile friendly Moodle theme or a Moodle mobile app to deliver your strategy. There are certain types of learning activities that are perfectly suited to mobile delivery. We look at delivering podcasts, engaging with social media, setting up photo, video and audio assignments, setting up eBook and App libraries, uploading audio assignment feedback, submitting reflective logs, using chat and messaging tools, using web conferencing and much more.Mobile devices already form the backbone of your learners' daily lives. If you want to use Moodle to bring those devices into the learning process, then this is the book for you.
Table of Contents (17 chapters)
Moodle for Mobile Learning
About the Author
About the Reviewers

Your mobile learning strategy

Finding a starting point for your mobile learning design is easier said than done. It is often useful when designing any type of online interaction to think through a few typical user types and build up a picture of who they are and what they want to use the system for. This helps you to visualize who you are designing for. In addition to this, in order to understand how best to utilize mobile devices for learning, you also need to understand how people actually use their mobile devices. For example, learners are highly unlikely to sit at a smartphone and complete a 60 minutes e-learning course or type out an essay. But they are very likely to read an article, do some last minute test preparation or communicate with other learners.

Who are your learners?

Understanding your users is an important part of designing online experiences. You should take time to understand the types of learners within your own organization and what their mobile usage looks like, as a first step in delivering mobile learning on Moodle. With this in mind, let's look at a handful of typical mobile learners from around the world who could reasonably be expected to be using an educational or workplace learning platform such as Moodle:

  • Maria is an office manager in Madrid, Spain. She doesn't leave home without her smartphone and uses it wherever she is, whether for e-mail, web searching and browsing, reading the news, or social networking. She lives in a country where smartphone penetration has reached almost half of the population, of whom two-third access the internet every day on their mobile. The company she works for has a small learning platform for delivery of work-based learning activities and performance support resources.

  • Fourteen year old Jennifer attends school in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Like many of her peers, she carries a smartphone with her and it's a key part of her life. The Brazilian population is one of the most connected in the developing world with nearly half of the population using the Internet, and its mobile phone subscriptions accounting for one-third of the entire subscriptions across Latin America and the Caribbean. Her elementary school uses a learning platform for the delivery of course resources, formative assessments, and submission of student assignments.

  • Nineteen year old Mike works as an apprentice at a large car maker in Sunderland, UK. He spends about one-third of his time in formal education, and his remaining days each week are spent on the production line, getting a thorough grounding in every element of the car manufacturing process. He owns a smartphone and uses it heavily, in a country where nearly half of the population accesses the Internet at least monthly on their smartphone. His employer has a learning platform for delivery of work-based learning and his college also has their own platform where he keeps a training diary and uploads evidence of skills acquisition for later submission and marking.

  • Josh is a twenty year old university student in the United States. In his country, nearly 90 percent of adults now own a mobile phone and half of all adults use their phone to access the Internet, although in his age group this increases to three quarters. Among his student peers across the U.S., 40 percent are already doing test preparation on their mobiles, whether their institution provides the means or not. His university uses a learning platform for delivery of course resources, submission of student assignments, and student collaborative activities.

These four particular learners were not chosen at random—there is one important thing that connects them all. The four countries they are from represent not just important mobile markets but, according to the statistics page on, also represent the four largest Moodle territories, together making up over a third of all registered Moodle sites in the world.

When you combine those Moodle market statistics with the level of mobile internet usage in each country, you can immediately see why support for mobile learning is so important for Moodle sites.

How do your learners use their devices?

In 2012, Google published the findings of a research survey which investigated how users behave across computer, tablet, smartphone, and TV screens. Their researchers found that users make decisions about what device to use for a given task depending on four elements that together make up the user's context: location, goal, available time, and attitude. Each of these is important to take into account when thinking about what sort of learning interactions your users could engage in when using their mobile devices, and you should be aiming to offer a range of mobile learning interactions that can lend themselves to different contexts, for example, offering tasks ranging in length from 2 to 20 minutes, and tasks suited to different locations, such as home, work, college, or out in the field. The attitude element is an interesting one, and it's important to allow learners to choose tasks that are appropriate to their mood at the time.

Google also found that users either move between screens to perform a single task (sequential screening) or use multiple screens at the same time (simultaneous screening). In the case of simultaneous screening, they are likely to be performing complementary tasks relating to the same activity on each screen. From a learning point of view, you can design for multi-screen tasks. For example, you may find learners use their computer to perform some complex research and then collect evidence in the field using their smartphone—these would be sequential screening tasks. A media studies student could be watching a rolling news channel on the television while taking photos, video, and notes for an assignment on his tablet or smartphone—these would be simultaneous screening tasks.


Understanding the different scenarios in which learners can use multiple screens will open up new opportunities for mobile learning.

A key statement from the Google research states that "Smartphones are the backbone of our daily media interactions". However, despite occupying such a dominant position in our lives, the smartphone also accounts for the lowest time per user interaction at an average of 17 minutes, as opposed to 30 minutes for tablet, 39 minutes for computer, and 43 minutes for TV. This is an important point to bear in mind when designing mobile learning: as a rule of thumb you can expect a learner to engage with a tablet-based task for half an hour, and a smartphone-based task for just a quarter of an hour.

Google helpfully outlines some important multi-screen lessons. While these are aimed at identifying consumer behavior and in particular online shopping habits, we can interpret them for use in mobile learning as follows:

  • Understand how people consume digital media and tailor your learning strategies to each channel

  • Learning goals should be adjusted to account for the inherent differences in each device

  • Learners must be able to save their progress between devices

  • Learners must be able to easily find the learning platform (Moodle) on each device

  • Once in the learning platform, it must be easy for learners to find what they are looking for quickly

  • Smartphones are the backbone of your learners' daily media use, so design your learning to be started on smartphone and continued on a tablet or desktop computer

Having an understanding of how modern-day learners use their different screens and devices will have a real impact on your learning design.