A Theory of Learning for the Mobile Age

Sharples, M., Taylor, J., & Vavoula, G. (2016). A Theory of Learning for the Mobile Age. In C. Haythornthwaite, R. Andrews, J. Fransman & E.M. Meyers (eds.) The SAGE handbook of e-learning research, 2nd edition. SAGE, pp. 63-81.

We propose a theory of learning for a world of global mobility, to complement theories of classroom, workplace and informal learning. We explore two layers of tool-mediated activity. The semiotic layer describes learning as a semiotic system in which the learner’s object-oriented actions are mediated by cultural tools and signs. The technological layer represents learning as an engagement with technology, in which tools such as computers and mobile phones function as interactive agents in the process of coming to know. Context is a central construct in understanding and designing mobile learning. Learning activity is distributed across differing contexts, with the implication that learning and teaching should not only adapt to context, but that learners and teachers continually shape their environments to meet changing needs. As mobile devices enable a seamless flow of learning to occur across locations and times, then tensions will arise as learners disrupt formal education by bringing not only their mobile devices but also their personal learning media and social networks. This also offers new possibilities to merge the richness of formal and everyday learning, through conversations and explorations within and across contexts.

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