International Association for Mobile Learning

Key Issue: Accessibility – people who are differently able / less educated /come from different cultures etc. and what this means regarding costs e.g. for devices to access internet and cultural pressures

Scenario: Who Pays?

Research question:

How can a mobile phone with camera and internet support learning on school field trips or visits e.g. to museums and art galleries?


A research student is planning their PhD on developing learning activities bridging inside and outside school contexts for teenagers using their own mobile devices and expecting them to text or post online from the location of interest.

Questions to be considered:

  • What types of devices are available within the research group and is that an atypical sample?
  • Will they provide devices to students who don’t have them?
    This will depend on type of research eg whether it is voluntary or not and what you need devices to do – if requiring higher end devices only that will skew the sample. Will a student reliant, say, on BBM messaging want to use a loaned Smartphone rather than their own?
  • How will the learners be connected?
    They will be getting access due to different cell phone networks. There will be differences in coverage, data plans, number of texts included etc.. If using up texts on a school project, does that impact on social text count ie affect their social life? How aware are the learners of different connectivity routes and their associated cost eg 3G vs wireless and what about unintended costs associated with exceeding data limits eg with multi-media such as photos or video? If choosing wireless, there will be a loss of immediacy if the learners need to go elsewhere to upload their data.
  • What about access for dyslexic or disabled students?
    Will they need extra functionality such as screen readers and who will purchase this? Though the BYOD model might overcome some of that as students may well have already acquired aid such as magnifiers.
  • How will parents feel?
    There may be a pressure on them to ensure their children can access learning – displaced cost from school to parents. Also what about the parents’ support for, say, texting for learning, may not consider it work
    Other issues that may arise:
    If there are instructions or information that needs to be downloaded by the students to their devices to support them whilst on location there may well be a cost of putting it into a suitable universally accessible form such as EPub.

Other similar situations:

Any research which relies on access to a service paid for by the participants or where participants may, through different abilities or needs, be more or less able to access the service.