Mobile Computing

2010 Final Topic and 2010 Short LIst: Time-to-Adoption: One Year or Less
Appeared in Horizon Report, 2006-2009; in ANZ Edition in 2008-2009; in 2009 K-12 Edition; and in 2009 Economic Development Edition

The mobile market today has nearly 4 billion subscribers, three-fourths of whom live in developing countries. Over a billion new phones are produced each year, and the fastest-growing sales segment belongs to smart phones — which means that a massive and increasing number of people all over the world now own and use a computer that fits in their hand. Third-party applications for all kinds of tasks can now be developed once and ported to a variety of mobile platforms, increasing their availability.

It is these applications that are making mobiles such an indispensable part of our lives. Tools for study, productivity, task management, and more have become integrated into a single device that we grab along with car keys and wallet. More and more, online applications have a mobile counterpart; Blackboard's mobile app, for instance, gives students access to their course materials, discussions, assignments, and grades. Other mobile and handheld devices, such as netbooks, smartbooks, ebook readers, and email readers are also commonly carried. It is easier than ever before to remain connected anytime and anywhere.

Relevance for Teaching, Learning & Creative Expression

  • Tablet PCs—small, portable computers that fall in size and function between smart phones and laptops—are used to record and analyze field research during Bluegrass Community & Technical College's off-campus chemistry labs.
  • In addition to the free lectures offered on iTunes, many universities are making courses available for mobile delivery.
  • Medical students at the University of Louisville School of Medicine use their smart phones to check H1N1 updates from the Center for Disease Control.


For Further Reading

Teaching with Technology Face-Off: iPhones vs. PC's
(Jeffrey R. Young, The Chronicle of Higher Education, 25 February 2009.) One professor found that students with access to an iPhone studied more than those who used only a PC.

World's largest open university goes mobile
(Press release,, 29 October 2009.) The Indira Gandhi National Open University, in partnership with Ericsson, will now offer courses on mobile phones. The classes will reach over 2.5 million students and allow learners in rural India to seek a higher education.