Facilitating application of language skills in authentic environments with a mobile learning system

R. Shadiev, W. Y. Hwang, Y. M. Huang, T. Y. Liu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

44 Scopus citations


We uncovered two critical issues in earlier studies: (a) some studies have shown that mobile learning technology is not beneficial for all students due to complexity of learning environments and student prior knowledge, skills, and experience and (b) familiarity of students with the authentic environments in which they learn using mobile technology did not receive much attention in earlier studies. To address these issues, we designed three learning tasks for a class of 26 junior high school students. The students applied language skills by completing the tasks in authentic environments individually in a first task, loosely collaborating with peers in a second task, and tightly collaborating with peers in a third task. A mobile learning system was also designed in this study to support students to accomplish the tasks. The aim of this study was to explore students' learning experiences using the learning system, their perceptions towards the system, and to assess how differently the students perform on the three tasks. According to our design, in the first task, the students took pictures of objects and described them orally or in writing using the mobile learning system. In the second task, after the students completed assignments, each student received comments from a partner through the system. In comments, the partner indicated flaws in student assignments and suggested how to fix them. In the third task, the students completed assignments, shared them using the system, and then exchanged comments with their partners face to face regarding issues related to their completed assignments and suggested how to improve them. Such learning behaviours in the three tasks enabled the students to practise writing and speaking skills. Our results demonstrate that most of the students highly valued our learning system and intend to use it in the future. Furthermore, the results show that the students performed best when they collaborated; namely, student performance was enhanced the most after the third task that required tight collaboration. Based on our results, we learned that students' familiarity with authentic environments is very important and beneficial for their learning. In addition, we learned that even in complex environment, less skilled and experienced students with low prior knowledge can perform well when they tightly collaborate with more skilled and experienced students with high prior knowledge, and our learning system can facilitate such collaboration.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)42-52
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Computer Assisted Learning
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Feb 2018


  • authentic environments
  • individual learning
  • knowledge application
  • learning experiences
  • loose and tight collaboration


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