MOBILE LEARNING IN HIGHER EDUCATION: AN EMPIRICAL ASSESSMENT OF A NEW EDUCATIONAL TOOL
Mobile Learning, or M-learning as it is often called, is a relatively new tool in the pedagogical arsenal to assist students and teachers as they navigate the options available in the expanding distance learning world. This article assesses some of the possible methods, challenges and future potential of using this approach in a college classroom and describes an empirical evaluation of the effectiveness of M-learning in a college classroom. One hundred twelve students in an introductory survey course in sociology were given the opportunity to use an M-Learning product developed by HotLava Software for the purpose of assisting them in preparation for two scheduled exams. Both practice and review questions were made available on Smart Phones, Web enabled phones, PDAs and other Internet capable mobile devices via Learning Mobile Author. Forty-two of the 112 students in the class chose to access these data via their personal devices and their responses were collected and recorded. The results of their performance, as indicated by a final grade in the course, were compared to the outcomes for those students who chose not to use the M-Learning tool. Students using the software demonstrated a higher level of knowledge of the subject matter covered in the course when compared to students choosing not to use the tools (p<.01). Conclusions and a discussion of these outcomes are offered as well as some inferences and speculation regarding the future of M-Learning in the classroom and beyond.