An idea that has been driving my interest in mobile learning comes from the computer scientist, Alan Kay. Being credited for inventing such things as object-oriented program and the GUI, he is also know for conceptualizing a mobile laptop computer called the Dynabook. (See wikipedia). I was first introduced to this device in the book by Neil Stephenson called The Diamond Age: Or, A Young Lady's Illustrated Primer. See wiki here.
In the Encyclopedia of Information Technology Curriculum Integration, Mark van't Hooft and others (2008) evoke Kay as the first person to envision a handheld device to support learning. What is interesting is the concept of supporting learning, not teaching. Such a device would be quite different.
As I'm trying to wrap my head around the variety of literature on mobile learning, I need to remind myself of what I am studying - ways to improve learning through the use of technology. In such a world, people don't stare at machines to teach them something. Instead they interact with them, in turn learning how to solve problems. Better yet, the mobile device acts as a scaffold to assist a learner, whether through a game, narrative, or presentation of a novel problem.
I need to now ask, how does conceptualization of learning influence the design of mobile learning materials?