It is not difficult to see a synergy between the current environment for learners and wireless and mobile technologies.
Firstly, these devices have become an integral part of modern life at approximately the same time that pedagogical practice has focused on the construction of understanding through collaborative and group activities. Secondly, national agendas for widening participation and increasing participation in full time post-compulsory learning have led to an increase in non-traditional learning patterns, while new generations of school leavers entering post-compulsory education for the first time are almost certainly daily users of a variety of mobile devices.
Thirdly, it is widely accepted that learning needs to be made as personal to the learner as is possible. This can be done by increasing a sense of ownership over the learning process, and mobile and wireless technologies can play a part in this process. Placing the technology literally in the hands of learners enables them to control the pace, frequency, and the sequence of resources they use in their learning. Where they own the handheld device, or are able to acquire one on loan from the institution, they are able to control the place and time of their learning activities as well.
These factors combine to support the argument that tools for learning in 21st century institutions need to reflect our changing expectations of how, when and where we learn, and that they should motivate learners to become more active and engaged in their learning.
Explore the particular advantages that a mobile device can bring to the experience of different types of learner in the different sections in this perspective. A case study in each section outlines the role the device has played and gives more information about how the technologies were used.