Mobile literacy, what is it?


On completion of this unit, you will be able to:

  • define key concepts pertaining to mobile literacy
  • understand how mobile Internet can be implemented in and enhance the language class
  • select resources for the classroom and design mobile literacy tasks for your students



Dudeney, Hockly and Pegrum (2014: 14) define mobile literacy as

“the ability to navigate, interpret information from, contribute information to, and communicate through the mobile internet, including an ability to orient oneself in the space of the internet of things (where information from real-world objects is integrated into the net) and augmented reality (where web-based information is overlaid on the real world)”.


So, why is Mobile Literacy important?

Our Internet access is no longer dependent on the use of a desktop, rooted and secluded. We are now continuously connected to the World-Wide-Web via laptops, tablets or more mobile tools, such as our smartphones. These mobile devices have found their way into our classrooms and, whether they access them or not, students and teachers are connected to each other and to the Internet while at work in the class. Also, more and more smartphones, tablets, phablets, smartwatches, smart-bands and even smart key chains are purchased every year, connecting people and creating the internet of things (IoT).

A further overlap between our physical world and the web is obtained with augmented reality (AR), which allows us to use visual items of the real world as a trigger to display contextual web-based information. By scanning these items with a smart mobile device, the user has access to web-pages, media files and/or text-based information on the items or other topics connected.

Mobile technology offers limitless opportunities for the language teacher. We can learn and teach from anywhere, anytime; learners can interact, collaborate and learn together; the tension of not recalling what the teacher said evaporates: learners can access learning as many times as they want to; learners can become proactive actors in and out of the classroom; communication is enhanced: students can communicate/discuss through forums/emails, etc. This may, at the same time, be experienced by some as overwhelming and/or confusing. The seamless and unceasing richness of stimuli requires the user to be able to navigate and interpret the received information in order to refer to and make use of it.

It is thus important that we teach our students to be mobile literate and to be able to distinguish the affordances offered by mobile apps, as opposed to desktop connection. A mobile literate user has to be print and multimedia literate, as well as information (see information literacy and search literacy) and network literate. Mobile literacy, then, is a macroliteracy, which requires us to be able to master all the afore-mentioned literacies.


Useful links

Mobile Learning for Language Learning – Trends, issues and way forward, Professor Glenn Stockwell


How It Works: Internet of Things, IBM Think Academy


Augmented Reality Enhanced Materials Design for Language Learning – Layar, Eric Hawkinson


Related activities

Context of useTitleRelated themesLanguages
CPD materials
Mobile literacy, what is it?EN, FR, GE, IT
Exploring the potential of mobile devices for language learningEN, ES, GE, IT
Activities for the classroom
M-learningEN, FR
Independent learning
Mobile literacy, what is it?EN, FR


Source/attribution: Digilanguages                                Author: Alexandre Jacquot

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