Media tablets for mobile learning

Reference: Kaganer, E., Giordano, G. A., Brion, S., Tortoriello, M. (2013). Media tablets for mobile learning in Communications of the ACM, 56(11), 68–75

Main idea: This article focuses on mobile learning and understanding how media tablets might influence key dimensions of learning by working professionals.


In this article, the main focus goes around the introduction of tablets in the year 2010, notably the iPad, and whether or not organizations should have the initiative to integrate the use of tablet in the everyday work life.

Nowadays, mobile learning is seen as a tool that has many benefits which facilitate the learning experience, making it more personalized, providing access to information with ease and creating a collaborative experience with others. A series of studies have been performed in the domain of higher education with a focus on undergraduates and graduates, whose working needs may differ from those of working professionals, in order to interpret the effects of mobile tablets on learning and if eventually they can be carried on and implemented in the workplace. The key question that was asked when the study was being carried out was “understanding of how media tablets might influence key dimensions of learning and collaboration by working professionals”.

The study was carried out at IESE Spain, with 124 students enrolled in the EMBA program. 62 of these students received iPads with all the documents needed in digital formats through the iPad, and 62 others who had hard copies and printed versions of these formats. The main focus of this study was to “understand the adoption and usage patterns of the mobile learning solution and their influence on key dimensions of learning outcomes, communication/collaboration, and team dynamics”.

After having conducted their experiments, many findings were identified, some of which were positive while the rest was relatively negative. Most students appreciated the fact that everything was easily accessible and downloaded, thus no need to carry around plenty of documents, in addition to that, they pointed out the efficient browsing and search tools which saved them time and confusion. Adoption and usage was positive in this aspect where most students relied on iPad to read their documents, and relied on iPad for qualitative courses more than quantitative courses such as finance where the preference was still to print out the documents since it was easier to skim through when solving exercise. Many implications are to be thought about and well- analyzed before integrating the use of tablets in the workplace. Although there were many positive feedback from the study that was held concerning learning through mobile tablets, many other findings seemed to have a negative effect on the overall learning experiences. For instance, iPads caused disruption in personal work habits and teamwork practices by shifting the learning curve.  Team collaboration was also affected in the way students were using the documents; some had them printed from the iPad, some others downloaded them on the pc and the rest used the iPads which didn’t show much consistency when coordinating work among team members.

As mentioned in the article, “mobile learning initiatives should be viewed as long term; expected benefits may not come quickly, and management must guide and support learners through the process of evolving their practice”. It is a challenging environment to work in and implement such devices and get consistent results, and that is why organizations should have a long term view with the necessary support systems to facilitate the transition to a mobile tabled- based world.