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Designing and evaluating a contextual mobile learning application to support situated learning

Alnuaim, Abeer

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Abeer Alnuaim


This research emerged from seeking to identify ways of getting Human-Computer Interaction Design students into real world environments, similar to those in which they will eventually be designing, thus maximising their ability to identify opportunities for innovation. In helping students learn how to become proficient and innovative designers and developers, it is crucial that their ‘out of the classroom’ experience of the environments in which their designs will be used, augments and extends in-class learning. The aim of this research is to investigate firstly, a blended learning model for students in higher education using mobile technology for situated learning and, secondly, the process of designing a mobile learning app within this blended learning model. This app was designed, by the author, to support students in a design task and to develop their independent learning and critical thinking skills, as part of their Human-Computer Interaction coursework. The first stage in designing the system was to conduct a comprehensive contextual inquiry to understand specific student and staff needs in the envisaged scenario.
In addition, this research explores the challenges in implementing and deploying such an app in the learning context. A number of evaluations were conducted to assess the design, usability and effectiveness of the app, which we have called sLearn. The results show an improvement in scores and quality of assessed work completed with the support of the sLearn app and a positive response from students regarding its usability and pedagogic utility. The promising results show that the app has helped students in developing critical thinking and independent learning skills. The research also considers the challenges of conducting an ecologically valid study of such interventions in a higher education setting. There were issues discovered in regards to the context of use such as usability of interface elements and feeling self-conscious in using the app in a public place.

The model was tested with two other student cohorts: User Experience and Engineering students, to further investigate best practice in deploying mobile learning in higher education and examine the suitability of this learning model for different disciplines. These trials suggest that the model is indeed suitable and, the engineering study in particular has demonstrated that it has the potential to support the learning in-situ of students from non-computing disciplines.


Alnuaim, A. Designing and evaluating a contextual mobile learning application to support situated learning. (Thesis). University of the West of England. Retrieved from

Thesis Type Thesis
Publicly Available Date Jun 6, 2019
Keywords HCI, user experience, mobile learning, design, evaluation
Public URL
Award Date Mar 1, 2015


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