Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Offering flexible and adaptable mobile learning


Imagine entering a museum and having information about the artwork at your fingertips or being able to collaborate remotely with fellow students in a university. Those services, and others, are being provided by a new mobile learning environment.

Created by MOBIlearn under the European Commission’s IST programme by 24 partners from Europe, Israel, the United States and Australia, the system breaks new ground in the development of mobile learning, or m-learning, applications that can be used in multiple contexts and scenarios.

“The possible applications of the MOBIlearn system are vast, it can be used anywhere where wireless information and educational content is needed to support the learning process of students, workers or citizens in general,” explains project manager Giancarlo Bo at GIUNTI Interactive Labs in Italy.

Though several m-learning products are on the market, the vast majority of these are “monolithic systems” designed to offer specific educational information in a specific context. “They are only able to provide a select subset of the functionalities that we implemented into MOBIlearn,” Bo notes.

Designed to be flexible and adaptable

MOBIlearn was therefore designed to be used in a variety of contexts, with the partners basing it on a framework to which new functionalities can be added rather than a top-down monolithic system. The result is an architecture that is more flexible and adaptable, leading to a more comprehensive m-learning environment incorporating ambient intelligence that tailors content to the profiles and needs of specific users.

“We didn’t want to simply provide information to users, we wanted the system to support the whole learning process depending on the scenario and the users’ individual needs,” the project manager explains. “In that way they gain a richer and more dynamic educational experience.”

To achieve that goal, MOBIlearn incorporates a selection of different technologies, most of them developed by the project partners, ranging from context and location awareness to content delivery, communication and personalisation.

Applied and well received

Three applications have been developed by the project consortium based on the MOBIlearn architecture. They offer ‘blended learning’ through merging m-learning with traditional education techniques for students and worker training; location-dependent learning to obtain educational resources outside of a classroom; and information, instructions and advice in the context of healthcare and first aid. The applications were tested in Switzerland, Italy and the UK last year.

“For blended learning MBA students at the University of Zurich were given mobile devices and told to perform specific tasks that would require collaboration between them. From different locations, they used the system to cooperate by sharing files, text and video messages about the project they had been given,” Giancarlo Bo explains. “The trials were very successful, the response of students was positive and they particularly liked the collaborative functionality.”

In the UK, the system was employed during a first aid training course with employees of the Open University, who were given different learning tasks that required them to obtain information and follow instructions and advice provided over mobile devices. “Once a user is accustomed to the system they could use it for more than just pre-emptive first aid training such as obtaining instructions in real time in the event of a medical emergency,” the project manager says.

The trial that perhaps best demonstrates the potential of MOBIlearn was conducted in Florence, Italy, with three groups of trial users: Italian secondary school students, foreign students and art experts.

“The users were given mobile phones, PDAs and tablet PCs and visited the Botticelli and Leonardo rooms of the Uffizi Gallery. Their positions within the rooms were tracked through location awareness and the system automatically sent them information about the paintings they were viewing. This information was tailored to the user’s profile and a more detailed history of the artwork was sent to art experts than to secondary school students, for example. Users could also choose to listen to the information or read it, they could also interact with the content, improving the cultural learning experience compared to reading from a traditional paper guidebook,” Bo explains.

Though the three scenarios validated the potential uses of MOBIlearn, they represent just a few of its possible applications.

“It could also be used in industry for maintenance workers to obtain information for specific tasks as and when they need it, and we have also looked at the possibilities for it to be employed by civil defence in crisis management situations such as during a natural disaster,” the project manager says.

Dr Bo, who notes that several consortium members are conducting further trials of the system amid plans to commercialise different components, expects m-learning to take off over the coming years as content providers create more educational content for mobile devices and mobile operators seek to offer new services to clients.

Tara Morris | alfa
Further information:

More articles from Science Education:

nachricht Decision-making research in children: Rules of thumb are learned with time
19.10.2016 | Max-Planck-Institut für Bildungsforschung

nachricht Young people discover the "Learning Center"
20.09.2016 | Research Center Pharmaceutical Engineering GmbH

All articles from Science Education >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Oasis of life in the ice-covered central Arctic

24.10.2016 | Earth Sciences

‘Farming’ bacteria to boost growth in the oceans

24.10.2016 | Life Sciences

Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

24.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

More VideoLinks >>>