Maintaining, changing and crossing contexts: an activity theoretic reinterpretation of mobile learning

Esra Wali, Niall Winters, Martin Oliver

Abstract

Although mobile learning is a popular topic in current research, it is not well conceptualized. Many researchers rely on under-theorized conceptions of the topic, and those who have tried to refine the ideas involved have found this to be complex and difficult. In this paper a new interpretation of the concept ‘mobile learning’ is offered, drawing on the tradition of activity theory. The interpretation focuses on the continuity of learning activities that take place in multiple contexts, which are embodied as the combination of the physical and social setting of the learning activities. The paper starts by sketching the current research context and then outlines the theoretical tradition within which the interpretation of ‘mobile learning’ is located. Then the new interpretation is offered and the concepts are applied to case studies to illustrate how this new understanding develops current thinking in the area. The paper concludes by discussing the implications for research of adopting such a perspective.

Keywords: mobile learning; context; activity theory

DOI: 10.1080/09687760701850190

Keywords

mobile learning; context; activity theory

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