Mobile Learning: Helping Students Leverage Their Most Used Devices

Since 2018, CSUCI has offered Learning Online 101 (LOL 101), a self-paced tutorial for students that prepares them for technical and academic success in online and blended courses. Instructors import LOL 101 as an assignment in their course, where students complete the tutorial and earn a badge. As of now, over 10,000 students have been prepared for online and blended learning with LOL 101. Future students will be further prepared with the addition of a new module to LOL 101: mobile learning to support their learning experience. 

Why teach online students how to use a mobile device for school? 

Many students use smartphones more often than computers for a wide array of reasons, varying from a busy schedule to a lack of computer access. About a third of American adults own a smartphone but do not have broadband access at home (Pew Research 2021). With reliance on smartphones being common among younger adults and 96% of Americans 18-29 owning a smartphone (Pew Research 2021), teaching students how to optimize the tools they already have at their fingertips is an important step in setting our dolphins up for success.

Screenshot of a reflection activity at the end of the Mobile Learning Module where students were asked to share there in-between moments.
Screenshot of student responses from the mobile learning module when asked: What are in-between moments where a mobile device can help you fit in a little learning?

While not an effective replacement for computers, mobile devices can be a tool to fit learning into busy lives and serve as a helpful lifeline to courses in situations where students are temporarily away from a computer. Often, online and blended courses are the best option for students who are balancing life’s duties– working, caretaking, commuting, and dealing with an illness. A busy schedule can mean a lack of access to extended periods of study time and more time away from a computer– where students typically check in on their courses. Because mobile devices are almost always with students, they are an easy way for students to engage with school during the “in-between” moments of life. With the right setup, students can use mobile devices to check due dates, message professors, listen to readings during commutes, jot down ideas whenever they appear, and so much more.

What do students learn in the mobile learning module?

The new addition to Learning Online 101 helps students consider how a mobile device can best support their learning. The customizable strategies shared in this module can extend beyond just smartphones– these useful tips for online or blended students can be applied to any device. The mobile learning module provides the support necessary for students to: 

  • Understand the pros and cons of using a mobile device;
  • Decide which tasks are best suited for a computer. Students will be connected to local resources where they can use or borrow a computer for free;
  • Set up their devices with school-related apps needed to receive important notifications and stay in touch with courses. This will help students have a “backup” device ready to go in situations where a computer unexpectedly isn’t available;
  • Learn how to save work “across devices.” For those working on more than one device (smartphone and personal computer, smartphone and library computer, etc), it is important to make sure work on one device is saved somewhere that won’t be lost when switched to the other device; 
  • Become aware of tech tips for learning on the go, like text-to-speech features that turn readings into audio files; 
  • Identify “in-between” moments in their day where a mobile device can help busy students check in and catch up on coursework;
  • Learn about common personalization and accessibility settings that exist on most devices.

To help students learn and connect them to campus, there are videos of current CSUCI students sharing their real-life stories about using mobile devices to help them balance school and life (see video below). Students taking the mobile learning module will be prompted to share some of their own experiences, keeping students engaged and keeping us updated on new trends as they emerge. 

How do I get Learning Online 101 in my course?

You are welcome to preview the updated version of Learning Online 101. It is easy to set up LOL 101 as an assignment in your course. Simply import the assignment from Commons using these LOL 101 import directions, and students will be prompted to enroll in LOL 101 and earn a badge upon completion. Students who have previously completed LOL 101 for another course will be able to submit their earned badge without retaking the course. 


Moore, C. (2023). Mobile-Mindful Teaching and Learning (1st ed.). Routledge.

Pew Research Center. (2021, April 7). Mobile fact sheet.

Rockey, A., Cohn, J., & Eastman, S. (2023). Reducing access barriers: Exploring student smartphone use across higher education institutions. Journal of Educational Research and Practice, 13, 285–303.

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