“A concern with E-Learning environments is whether students achieve superior or equivalent learning outcomes to those obtained through traditional methods.” Aramatas and Saliba conduct a study, which explores learning outcomes from printed study material, lecture format, computers and “smart” mobile phone delivery methods. Each of the delivery methods offer benefits. Having experienced educational delivery via each method, each one has its pros and cons.
Smart phones give an opportunity for learners to be able to do coursework anywhere/anytime. When someone has time constraints, this is a great advantage. However, the use of mobile phones in learning environments/educational delivery comes with some challenges as well. The speed at which someone can input text is much slower. The size of the screen can also be a challenge when it comes to reading text. Smart phones can enhance the engagement and activity of the learning environment, but being able to function as ‘the’ learning environment faces one larger challenge – not everyone has a smart phone. Though not everyone has a computer or internet access, there are locations that offer it. Individuals can use computers in libraries or community centers. Access to smart phones is not as convenient.
In the study that Aramatas and Saliba conducted, they looked to test whether learning outcomes were similar, or no worse, when using mobile phones as a delivery method. The study included 81 students, ranging in age from 18 – 27 years old. Students were broken into groups of three and asked to study four lessons using the four delivery methods (printed, lecture, computer, smart phone). Students were in three different settings: lounge room where they studied printed material and the lecture was presented; study where they used a computer; and bedroom where they used their mobile device. Tests were designed for each lesson. Learners were given questionnaires after each setting to complete.
Based on their responses, 60 percent of the sample indicated they were interested in using their mobile phone to facilitate learning, while 15 percent were not interested and 25 percent unsure. The study found that students’ test scores were better for lessons studied using print; but they were equal for the other three methods. Their findings also showed that despite some of the challenges in using mobile phones, they can still be used as an effective learning tool.
Armatas, C. & Saliba, A. (2009). Is Learning as Effective When Studying Using a Mobile Device Compared to Other Methods? In C. Spratt, & P. Lajbcygier, E-Learning Technologies and Evidence-Based Assessment Approaches (218-233). Hershey, PA: Information Science Reference.