mlearn project

Charles Sturt University's Mobile Learning Project

Device Limitations

The physical hardware, operating system and software configuration of mobile devices means that not everything is better with this new technology; some tasks are more easily and quickly done using ‘old’ technology.

Mobile technology provides a new paradigm of interaction through the touch interface, which eliminates the reliance of additional peripherals such as the mouse end keyboard. However, this is typically at the loss of the affordances of those tools, i.e., the ability to type quickly and error free or the nuance of a virtual pointing device rather than ‘fat fingers’.

The project also found other areas where the devices were limited:

  • some students found that the WiFi-only models were limiting their mobility because they lacked access to infrastructure off campus
  • the mobile device became a distraction at times because it is always on and always connected
  • some core tools at CSU, such as Interact tools, especially Online Meeting (Wimba not Adobe Connect) were not mobile-friendly devices
  • typing on the iPad’s virtual on-screen keyboard was often raised as an issue but the addition of a physical keyboard (which doubled as a case) was a viable solution to this problem
  • lack of like-for-like applications was a common problem. Those familiar with applications like Word and Outlook on the PC were often faced with a lack of suitable replacements and equivalent features available on the mobile device
  • this was accentuated by the lack of file type support and the ability to adjust current workflows that leverage ‘standard PC’ features, most significantly network storage on P and S Drives

Some of these limitations are not actually the fault of the device, but are dependencies on external software companies and the lack of compatible infrastructure at the university. Over time there is an expectation that these shortcomings will be overcome, but from our infrastructure perspective this will require work to be carried out by CSU.

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