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An Activity-Oriented Design Framework for Mobile Learning Experience

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Fifth IEEE International Conference on Wireless, Mobile, and Ubiquitous Technology in Education

An Activity-Oriented Design Framework for Mobile Learning Experience
Huanglingzi Liu Nokia Research Center, Beijing Linda.2.liu@nokia.com Jyri Salomaa Nokia Research Center, Beijing Jyri.p.salomaa@nokia.com Ronghuai Huang Beijing Normal University huangrh@bnu.edu.cn Ding Ma Beijing Normal University mading70@126.com

Abstract
This paper proposes a conceptual design framework for mobile learning (mLearning) mainly based on the reflection and action research results of Nokia Mobiledu project, which was recently launched in China and is targeted especially for learning English. The framework involves five stages: mLearning activity design, requirement and constraint analysis, mLearning scenario design, mLearning technology environment design and mobile learner support services design, in which mLearning activity design plays a key role in a systematic design procedure for mLearning experience.

1. Background
In China, there are more than 600 million mobile phone users and people are spending more time on the road or commuting. There is a big growth potential for mobile learning in China. Nokia recently set up China’s first interactive mobile learning service Mobiledu (www.mobiledu.cn), with the aim to enrich people’s learning experiences anytime anywhere in a most convenient way with their mobile phones. Reflecting on the design and development process of Mobiledu and other mobile learning projects, this paper describes an activity-oriented design framework for mobile learning experience, which focuses on strategies and practices to design the mobile learning experience in a systematic way instead of just dividing activity into several elements.

The scope of systematic mobile learning (mLearning) design has its roots in multi-disciplinary fields, especially incorporating aspects of instructional design, user experience, mobile and wireless technology. The whole design procedure is a creation of the mLearning activity which takes advantage of mobile and wireless technologies in a specific environment, leads to optimized learning effects and is guided by learning theory and instruction theory. MLearning activity design is the core aspect of the mLearning experience design framework, which not only bases on requirement and constraint analysis and refines on the results of the scenario design, but also interweaves with the functional aspects of technology environment design and non-functional aspects of the mobile learner support services (Figure 1).

Figure 1 Design Framework of mLearning

2.1. Mobile learning activity design
According to Engeström (1987)’s formulation of activity model, mLearning activity can be regarded as the specific interactions between learners and mLearning context mediated by wireless and mobile technology enhanced tools and resources that may constrain or support the learners in their goals of

2. A general framework for mLearning experience design

0-7695-3108-3/08 $25.00 © 2008 IEEE DOI 10.1109/WMUTE.2008.30

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acquiring knowledge and skills. The mLearning activity design is to clarify those mutually interdependent elements: learning objectives, learning tasks, learning strategies, resources and tools. Learning topics or the scopes of learning goals influence directly the learning activity design. In Mobiledu, learning contents are sorted into two categories: decarative knowledge or procedural knowledge. As to declarative knowledge, activity design would emphasize on the meaning of symbols and lead to activities aiming to retrieve and store new information until this information is automatized. This category of activities supported in Mobiledu mainly include: reading, listening, watching multimedia format learning resources with mobile phones; recording and repeating what have been learned. As to procededual knowledge, the learning activity design would emphasize on the understanding and applying rules to new situations and corresponding learning activities including problem solving, project work, authentic assessment, inquiry, collaborative learning etc. In Mobiledu, learners can be supported to pratice what they have learned through various test. When developing learning strategies for a mLearning activity, motivations or stimuluses need to be considered seriously to activate or encourage learners’ involvement in the mobile context. In Mobiledu, practices to foster mobile learners’ English learning motivation can be described as follows:
• • • • visualizing learning progress by performance grading list to foster recognition feelings enabling learners evaluating and recommending mLearning courses to foster engagement providing learning notes for reviewing what they think are important to foster a sense of self control distributing and sharing complementary learning resources through community platform to foster satisfaction

• • • • • • •

potential end users and existing mLearning application motivations and expectations from the project team possible mLearning situation, environment and influencing factors social-cultural features of users’ organization or group learning characteristics of potential users learning tasks, motiviations and possible difficulties or barriers users’ attitudes, skills, experiences and use patterns toward mobile and wireless technology

In concrete requirement analysis, the tasks include:

Usability constraints and cost effectiveness analysis are the two main contraints analysis tasks which run though the whole Mobiledu design process. An understanding of user needs, and those factors which influence their mLearning experience, is crucial to mLearning design.

2.3. Mobile learning scenario design
A scenario is a narrative story about specific users, their activities and the environment or situation. Mlearning scenario is to describe how learners with certain characteristics in certain settings carry out various activities to achieve their learning goals. A scenario can help designers and developers imagine and understand for whom, how and where the mLearning and the supported technology works the best. For Mobiledu project, non-classroom-based English learning pattern is agreed in the requirement analysis stage, so more design innovations are required. At the same time more usability challenges have to be overcomed. A scemario is a good starting point for the design work. In Nokia’s Mobiledu project, designers brainstormed and visualized several mLearning scenarios in storyboard and launched a series of focus groups to verify the designed concepts and especially to evaluate whether the mLearning experience can satisfy users’ motivational level needs and the corresponding roles of mobile technologies.

2.2. Requirement and constraint analysis
Mlearning experience should not be only instruction innovation or new ways of making money; it is aimed to satisfy mobile learners’ demands enabled by new mobile technologies. In order to draw a clear image about the demands, two levels of requirement analysis have been done in Mobiledu: general level and concrete level. The analysis tasks in general level include:
• • common features of mLearning current state and development trend of ICT in education

2.4. Mobile learning technology environment design
The mLearning technology environment is the conditions such as content databases, learning tools, platforms, networks etc. that supports and sustains the mLearning activities. Figure 2 describes the structure of mLearning Technology Environment.

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• •



Figure 2 mLearning technology environment Infrastructure construction mainly includes wireless network and mobile device selection. In Mobiledu project, target market and brand construction was the main concern for wireless network and device selection. Mobiledu adopts MUPE (Multi-User Publishing Environment, http://www.mupe.net) as the original development platform. MUPE uses only Java (client uses J2ME MIDP 2.0, and server J2SE), making the system usable in most mobile phones and most backend systems. As to the mLearning support functions design of the platform, one guideline is carried out, which is to align the learning activity with the supported technology role. MLearning resources development mainly determines the multimedia representation of the content, which includes the use of text, audio, animation, video, 3D video, learner control and so on. In Mobiledu projects, interoperability and adaptivity is the main concern for mLearning resources developers, which requires that mLearning resources could adapt the media format or content according to the learning style, skills, networks, mobile devices and locations etc. Future study on this will be strengthened.

Blended learning services: some learning activities happen across fixed internet, mobile internet or even face-to-face medium. Training services: learners can get useful feedbacks or learning method guidances during the process in which they adapt themselves to mLearning patterns. Community support services: online and mobile communities are built so that learners can get not only emotional support but also academic support from partners.

3. Conclusions
This paper proposes an activity-oriented design framework for mLearning mainly based on the reflection of Nokia’s Mobiledu project. ‘MLearning activity design’ determines directly the mLearning experience and includes the specification of all the activity components intervoven with other four stages. Strategies and principles of instructional design, mobile and wireless technology features, user experience and usability can be epitomized by this center stage. ‘Requirement & constraint analysis’ mainly investigates learners or relative users, context, business environment. ‘Mlearning scenario design’ includes the creation and repeated evaluation and refinement of mLearning scenarios. ‘Mlearning technology environment design’ mainly translates the understanding of mLearning activity and expectation of technology role to a realistic technology solution that supports the whole learning experience. ‘Learner support services design’ utilizes various means to bridge the distance between learning goals and mLearning experience supported by mobile and wireless technology with limitations.

2.5. Mobile learner support services design
The concept of learner support comes from distance education, which usually means a range of services enabling learners to overcome difficulties, develop competencies and confidence in self-regulated learning. From the practice of Mobiledu project, we think mobile learner support services are equally important for the success of mLearning. If the goal of a mLearning project is to establish itself in mLearning services for sustainable development, learner support services should have a great emphasis. Following list contains some of the main components:
• Information consulting services: learners can find or search relative information including personal learning history through WAP/website.

References
[1]Agnes Kukulska-Hulme.(2007). Mobile Usability in Educational Contexts: What have we learnt? The International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, Vol 8, No 2 [2]Lorna Uden.(2007).Activity theory for designing mobile learning, International Journal of Mobile Learning and Organisation,Vol. 1, No.1 pp. 81 – 102 [3]David Parsons, Hokyoung Ryu, Mark Cranshaw.(2006). A Study of Design Requirements for Mobile Learning Environments, Proceedings of the Sixth International Conference on Advanced Learning Technologies (ICALT'06)

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