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Informal learning with PDAs and smartphones


Gill Clough, CALRG/CREET, Institute of Educational Technology, Open University, Walton Hall, Milton Keynes, MK7 6AA, UK. Email:


Abstract  There has been increasing interest in informal learning in recent years alongside interest in how such learning can be supported by technology. However, relatively little is known about the extent to which adults make use of their own mobile devices to support informal learning. In this study, a survey was used to investigate whether, and to what extent, experienced users of mobile devices use their mobile devices to support intentional informal learning. If so, do they make use of mobile device connectivity to support opportunistic informal learning and does such connectivity support or encourage collaborative informal learning? Experienced mobile device users were recruited from web forums and business, and asked whether they used their devices to support informal learning. A pattern of learning uses emerged, some of which deployed the mobile device capabilities relatively unchanged, others triggered adaptations to typical learning activities to provide a better fit to the needs of the learner. These informal learning activities provided the basis for the design of a flexible mobile learning framework that can be extended to support developments in mobile technology, and increasing use of Web 2.0 technologies by informal learners.