Theoretical learning models that support mobile devices

Different pedagogy and practice have been identified that support theoretical learning models using mobile devices. Early definitions of M-learning, focused more on the features of mobile technology, but this has since been superseded by more fundamental notions that mobility is the central issue (Winters, 2006). This suggests that the learners have the potential to overcome physical constraints, through access to learning resources, irrespective of location and time (Kukulska-Hulme, 2010)Learning enabled through mobile technology is frequently considered more than just access to content or the ability to communicate with others – it is the mobility of the learner. Mike Sharlpes, a leading authority within M-learning, defines mobile learning as “the processes (both personal and public) of coming to know through exploration and conversation across multiple contexts amongst people and interactive technologies” (Sharples, M. et al, 2007).

Bloom’s Taxonomy identifies five levels of learning. Using mobile technology, the same type of deep or superficial learning can be developed at different levels.

Applying Bloom’s Taxonomy to mobile learning

Audio recordings: This demonstrates how recording and playback can be utilised through different levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy. Using audio recordings may help support students with additional learning needs, such as dyslexic or motor impaired learners but may not be appropriate for all learners.

Low levels – Bloom’s Taxonomy:

  • A simple audio recording can grant access to basic learning materials. This could be a set of instructions, topic information, or background context.
  • Leaners can record audio notes, language pronunciations, or key points during a seminar.
  • Text based information can be converted to audio format. Websites such as, offer this service for free. Text to speech systems can help support visually impaired learners by converting text to a spoken voice for learners to engage with.
  • Recoding on location: Audio clips taken on location may include background information or additional information during data collection.

Medium levels – Bloom’s Taxonomy:

  • A learner can compare and contrast various audio files to select the most relevant. This could be based on language, academic level or context.
  • Learners can create audio files, detailing observations or conversations.

Higher levels – Bloom’s Taxonomy:

  • Learners could examine audio files to try and identify bias eg, for anthropology and psychology studies.
  • Learners could create audio files to replicate specific themes, eg documentary, rhetorical.
  • Learners could create audio files to sum up various conversations and linked to a particular issue.

TPACK theoretical learning model

Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPACK) extends Lee Shulman’s theory of pedagogical content knowledge (Shulman, 2004). The TPACK theoretical learning model attempts to identify the knowledge required by teachers to successfully integrate technology into their teaching.


Mishra, P., & Koehler, M. J. (2006). Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge: A framework for teacher knowledge. Teachers College 

Academics have argued that successful teaching does not occur in isolation to context, and that teachers require a solid understanding of how technology relates to pedagogy (Mishra, P., & Koehler, M. J. 2006). The TPACK framework beings to practically address how teachers approach the three knowledge bases, Content (CK), Pedagogy (PK), and Technology (TK). The model also extends to examine how the three distinct areas relate to each other and particularly the intersections that lie between (Mishra, P., & Koehler, M. J. 2006).

Content Knowledge 
Context knowledge describes the information needed by the teacher in order to understand and appreciate a particular subject. This knowledge may include frameworks, practices, theories, eminent or influential ideas, the history and evolution, as well as established practices and approaches toward developing such knowledge (Koehler & Mishra, 2009).

Pedagogical Knowledge

Pedagogical knowledge describes the method relating to successfully convening information to others through teaching. Educational values and aims, managing students, planning and assessment, and understanding how students learn (Koehler & Mishra, 2009).

Technology Knowledge
Technology Knowledge describes competently functioning with technological tools. The ability to apply technology and resources to assist with the achievement of a specific lesson aim or goal. The ability to continually adapt and respond to information technology changes and identify successfully when technology will enhance or impeded learning (Koehler & Mishra, 2009).

Pedagogical Content Knowledge
Shulman’s contention is that knowledge of pedagogy is applicable to teaching specific content and that pedagogical content knowledge, is the transformation of subject knowledge to teaching (Shulman,1986). The transformation happens as the teacher interprets the subject matter and adapts the teaching material to into different vehicles, appropriate for the student’s ability and experience (Koehler & Mishra, 2009). Pedagogical Content Knowledge is also defined as applying appropriate teaching methods and creating a fertile environment for learning to flourish.

Technological Content Knowledge
Technological content knowledge describes a deep understanding of how technology and learning content influence and effect each other. Teachers need to master more than the subject material, they also need to understand how to ideally represent this information and the implications of applying different technologies when attempting to teach it. Teachers should be able to identify the appropriate technology for the subject matter they are covering and the relationship between the how particular content will influence applying specific technologies (Koehler & Mishra, 2009).

Technological Pedagogical Knowledge
Technological pedagogical knowledge describes an appreciation for how technology can impact and influence teaching and learning. This includes pedagogical affordances and constraints when applying technology in relation to pedagogical strategies (Koehler & Mishra, 2009).

Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge
Technological pedagogical content knowledge describes a mastery of teaching with technology, a deep understanding of how the three areas of content knowledge, pedagogical knowledge and technology knowledge relate and impact on effective teaching. Technological pedagogical content knowledge is different from knowledge of all three concepts individually and requires understanding of the representation of concepts using technologies (Koehler & Mishra, 2009). Pedagogical techniques that harness technology to teach content (Koehler & Mishra, 2009).

Limitations of TPACK Model

One criticism faced by the TPAK model is inherent in its design. The model compartmentalises professional teaching and ICT knowledge, and positions pedagogical knowledge distinct from content knowledge. This implies that subject expertise, content and pedagogy lie in different distinct communities (Scott Bulfin, Graham Parr, Natalie Bellis. 2011).  Another criticism faced by the model is the practicality of implementation.  The model relies on multiple interconnected areas, each with a large number of variables to contend with (Schmidt, 2009).

SAMR theoretical learning model

Dr. Ruben Puentedura developed the Substitution Augmentation Modification Redefinition framework in 2006. This is a popular model of theoretical learning using technology within the academic community. This models contains four levels of technology integration that can be applied to teaching and learning. The model in essence attempts to measure and define how technology is impacting on teaching and learning (Ruben, 2014). The SAMR model also demonstrates progression for educators to follow as they progress through teaching and learning with technology. In the initial stages of substitution and augmentation, technology can be applied as a direct substitute for the original learning tool with little or no functional change. An example of this would be an essay. The original tool of a pen and paper could be replaced by a tablet or laptop as the substitute tool. In the later stages of

modification and redefinition, the technology affords an additional learning experience. The essay for example can be shared online and facilitate comments or collaboration. The redefinition stage should afford a completely new learning experience, only possible through technology. The main concept and strength of the model is not focused on what level of sophistication you are applying when using technology, rather the level of engagement by the student (Ruben, 2014). The SMAR model encourages teachers to reflect on how they choose a particular technology to enhance learning.




Limitations of SAMR Model

One of the criticisms posed at the SAMR model is that assumes a hierarchical position in relation to amount of technology used within teaching, this implies that redefinition at the highest position, can only be achieved through technology that enables unique experiences and discounts simpler technological applications that may achieve more effective learning (Marcovitz, D and Janiszewski, N. 2015) In compassion to other learning methodologies, very few peer reviews have also been conducted against the SAMR Model (James O’Hagan, 2011)


Constructivism describes the process of acquiring new knowledge through inquiry based learning and collaboration (Jean Piaget, 1936). In the context of mobile learning technology, students in theory have more influence and input on how they learn and in turn have the potential for a more profound learning experience (David A. Kolb, 2014). Many in the academic community argue that constructivism is a crucial component of technology integration (Rachel A. Vannatta & Barbara Beyerbach, 2014).


Resources for SAMR & TPACK: (Work by others)

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Tom Tomlinson

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