Assimilate or Accommodate? The Need to Rethink Current Use of the Term ‘Mobile Learning’

Jocelyn Wishart

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

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Mobile devices are now ubiquitous in many areas of the globe and used for all kinds of communication modes in all walks of life, notably for learning as well as for entertainment. So what exactly do we understand by mobile learning? For a decade now, as mobile devices are found in an ever wider range of learning situations and contexts, mobile learning researchers have sought to define (Sharples, Taylor and Vavoula, 2007; Wexler et al., 2008) and redefine (Crompton, 2013) mobile learning in a way that is meaningful within this increasing range. However, the need to categorise educational applications of mobile technologies has become a progressively more complex challenge (Park, 2011), also including the classroom as a pedagogical context for mobile learning. However, Sharples and colleagues’ (2007) original definition of mobile learning emphasised the assumption that, for learning to be mobile, learners must be continually on the move which is clearly not the case for students using mobile devices in class. Yet the mobile learning research community continues to try to assimilate these instances into their understanding of mobile learning. Is it not now time to create a new concept reserving the original term ‘mobile learning’ for mobile technology supported learning opportunities that involve the learners physically moving between contexts?
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)270-284
JournalMedia Education – Studi, ricerche, buone pratiche
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2015


  • Mobile learning
  • mobile devices
  • learning
  • classroom
  • definition


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