Carlos III University of Madrid (SPAIN)
About this paper:
Appears in: ICERI2011 Proceedings
Publication year: 2011
Pages: 773-784
ISBN: 978-84-615-3324-4
ISSN: 2340-1095
Conference name: 4th International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 14-16 November, 2011
Location: Madrid, Spain
The advance of information technologies, communications and the emergence in the market of a huge variety of mobile devices becoming easier and comfortable to use bring advantages like information retrieval and services from any place with an Internet connection and the right software.

There are not enough research studies that determine what is the current state of the development of this technologies in the university scope and which are the main challenges they have to face. The purpose of this research work consists in the analysis about how Spanish Universities are using these technologies.

The method used for this research was a systematic review that was composed of the following phases:

1) Retrieval of previous research works to be considered to address conveniently the background of this research work and the criteria to be considered for a deep analysis of the mobile applications provided by Spanish universities. The discussion of the search strings, articles databases and the criteria for the inclusion of a paper in this study will be included in a detailed paper.

2) Based on the analysis of previous research on mobile learning and mobile applications, the criteria to analyze the mobile applications provided by Spanish universities were defined. These criteria were grouped in several categories that are: purpose, target, audience, functionality, content managed, usability, accessibility and ease to support the m-learning activities.

3) Mobile application search to determine the actual software offered by the Spanish Universities. We focus at two main platforms; Android and iOS because these are the most widespread in the mobile application community in Spain (Source: Apple:56%, Android: 20%, Others: 23% - Mobile Operating System Market Share Study - ) . There are other proposals like J2ME, but given the variety of devices, distribution problems, and device fragmentation, we have dismissed from this research. In this sense, the gathering of the mobile applications was done in the App Store and Android Market.

4) The recovered applications were installed and tested on different types of mobiles devices to collect the required information. A first analysis of the results we have found that only 17.94% of Spanish universities have entered in the mobile application environment. A more detailed analysis on the results will be centered on the discussion of the following issues: purpose, functionality, integrated technologies, accessibility, usability and support to educational activities in the subjects that are taught in the universities which have implemented them.

5) These results were used to determine the challenges and trends of use of mobile applications in universities. These challenges and trends are related to:

● Integration with current existing learning management systems and provision of advanced functionality in mobility
● Identification of added value services to be provided to the university community
● Adoption of new paradigms of learning and students`development
● Identification of new requirements to be addressed by the IT support departments in universities
● Evaluation and quality assurance of the mobile solutions provided to the students and professors communities
● Emerging technologies to be considered in the next generation of mobile apps for universities
● Accessibility barriers and solutions

These challenges will be discussed in a detailed paper.
Mobile applications, m-learning, mobile device, university, systematic review, spain.