Mobile applications as tools to support embodied learning: Current practice and future directions

Andre R. Denham, Javier Gonzalez-Sanchez, Maria Elena Chavez-Echeagaray, Robert Atkinson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Mobile learning (mLearning) is a rapidly expanding area of educational research. Theorists, researchers, and instructional designers are excited about the potential contributions of mobile technology to the field of education. Mobile tools such as Apple's iPad or Galaxy Tab have sparked this interest based on their ability to provide high-powered computing within a small, extremely portable form factor. Learners are no longer constrained by the desktop or the power cord of a laptop. Unfortunately, much of mLearning research has focused on transferring eLearning on to mobile devices, instead of investigating the unique characteristics of mobile tools that can be used to define mLearning as a distinct type of learning. This paper begins the task of situating mLearning as a distinct type of learning by first considering the theoretical and pedagogical affordances unique to it. Then, the authors transition into a discussion of embodied learning and how the literature related to this field supports the use of mobile tools for educational purposes that go well beyond the deliver of eLearning instructional content. From there, the authors move to a discussion of the logistical challenge of melding mobile tools within formal learning environments. Next, the paper reports the results of an investigation into the current state of mLearning applications and how the majority of these applications fail to leverage the hardware features of mobile tools that can potential result in deeper understanding of concepts and skills. Finally, the authors provide implications and future directions for developers and educators.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-16
Number of pages16
JournalInternational Journal of Cyber Behavior, Psychology and Learning
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2012


  • Education
  • Mobile applications
  • Mobile devices
  • Mobile learning (mLearning)
  • Mobile tools
  • Smart phones
  • Tablets

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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