Canadian Journal of Nursing Informatics


This article was written on 20 Sep 2009, and is filled under Volume 4 2009, Volume 4 No 3.

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Ready or Not: m-Learning is Here!

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Technology in Education Column

Here is the fifth installment of our most recent feature, written by one of our CNA Centennial 100 Award Winners, Dr. Sandra Bassendowski, Associate Professor at the University of Saskatchewan. Sandra recognized a need, and offered to write this important column for the CJNI – her fifth column is focused on how mobile learning can be used in nursing education and by nurses in general. Sandra has been recognized by the Canadian Nurses’ Association, as well as the Saskatchewan Registered Nurses Association and the University of Regina for her inspiring, dedicated work in her educational practice.

Ready or Not: m-Learning is Here!

Mobile learning or m-learning has been around for about the past decade but is now growing in capacity and potential. Although related to e-learning and distributed learning, the primary goals of m-learning focus on the use of mobile devices and the ability to respond to individual learning needs. “The use of wireless, mobile, portable, and handheld devices are gradually increasing and diversifying across every sector of education, and across both the developed and developing worlds” (Traxler, 2007, ¶ 1).

M-learning is an activity in which individuals can carry out learning activities using mobile devices such as smart phones, personal digital assistants (PDAs), multi-game devices, personal media players (PMPs), or notebooks. Peters (2007) describes the use of these devices as providing the “…`just enough, just in time, just for me’ model of flexible learning…, and is therefore just one of a suite of options that can be adapted to suit individual learning needs” (¶ 4). The third generation (3G) mobile services are being marketed as very efficient teaching and learning tools. For example, I am amazed at the variety of educational applications that are available for the iPhone. Just recently, an article in The Chronicle of Higher Education (Fischman, 2009) describes how new applications for the iPhone support students and their ability to access information related to their course content. This newer technology allows students to attend a variety of learning activities, search for knowledge, participate in Web 2.0 services, and access information online. Students who use mobile devices can participate in assessments and evaluations (e.g., quizzes, tests, surveys/polls), get on-the-job support, search for citations, and receive update alerts, forms, and checklists (Brown & Metcalf, 2008). Although the 3G networks and applications are readily available to students and educators, the specific uses of m-learning still need to be researched for pedagogical significance (Kukulska-Hulme, 2007).

Mobile learning can enhance and support more traditional teaching and learning modes, making it more portable and accessible. Depending on the technologies utilized, m-learning devices can enable data collection at the point of care during clinical experience, provide “knowledge in the hand” with resources such as medication formularies, clinical pathways programs, and organizational policies and procedures. M-learning enables students, educators, and practitioners to dialogue on necessary patient decisions and ultimately enhance health care delivery.


Brown, J., & Metcalf, D. (2008, Summer). Mobile learning update. Learning Consortium
[Online]. Retrieved August 2, 2009 from

Fischman, J. (2009, August 13). iPhone Textbook Apps Just Keep Coming. The
Chronicle of Higher Education.
[Online]. Retrieved August 14, 2009 from

Kukulska-Hulme, A. (2007). Mobile Usability in Educational Contexts: What have we
learnt? International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning 8 (2). [Online}. Retrieved August 14, 2009 from

Peters, K. (2007). m-Learning: Positioning educators for a mobile, connected future.
International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning 8 (2). [Online}. Retrieved August 14, 2009 from

Traxler, J. (2007). Defining, Discussing, and Evaluating Mobile Learning: The moving
finger writes and having writ… . International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning 8 (2). [Online}. Retrieved August 14, 2009 from

Graphic of iPhone downloaded from

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