LEARNERS LEFT TO THEIR OWN DEVICES THE CHALLENGES OF STUDENT SCAFFOLDING IN OUTDOORS MOBILE LEARNING ACTIVITIES
Since the advent of mobile technology it has, over time, permeated increasing aspects of everyday life. The promise of constant connection and instantaneous access to people and information is such an alluring one that it has not only become a tool for communication but also a learning medium. As a reflection of this, research field of mobile learning has attempted to understand and make use of the affordances of mobile technologies. The main argument of mobile learning field is that mobility creates an ever-moving context where learning can occur more meaningfully in authentic contexts (Pachler et al., 2010). Consequently, it also enables a different relationship to learning. Learning can be developed from ‘the acquisition of knowledge of issues encountered in the world’ to shaping ones own knowledge out of ones own sense of the world (Kress & Pachler, 2007).
With mobile learning, the relevance of collaborative learning has also increased even more, not exclusively because mobile technology can enhance collaboration, but also because teacher availability may be an issue outside the classroom (Nouri, 2012). In contexts where the students are many and the distances larger than they are in ordinary classrooms, thus with teachers not readily available, the importance of effective collaborative scaffolding increases.
However, despite the mounting research on mobile learning, little is still known about how students’ scaffolding needs, and in particular, how students’ collaboration to meet these needs, are unfolded in outdoors learner-centred mobile learning activities were teachers are not readily available. In fact, in a concept mapping study of 20 internationally acknowledged domain experts, Börner et al (2010) identified peer collaboration as one of the important challenges of mobile learning.
Thus, in this paper, we examine how students scaffolding needs, and their collaboration to satisfy these needs, unfolds in learner-centred outdoor mobile learning activities were teachers are not readily available. To this end, an empirical study was designed with the goal of examining five small groups of students (5th grade) who were using mobile devices in authentic educational settings, within a natural science inquiry-based learning activity outdoors. More specifically, based on the empirical data collected, we examine what scaffolding needs arise, the division of labour that emerge between the group members, and the effect these two variables have on group performance. This paper contributes with a better understanding of the challenges of student scaffolding in mobile learning activities.
 Börner, D., Glahn, C., Stoyanov, S., Kalz, M., & Specht, M. (2010). Expert concept mapping study on mobile learning. Campus-Wide Information Systems, 27(4), 240-253.
 Kress, G., & Pachler, N. (2007). Thinking about the'm'in mobile learning. Didactics of Microlearning. Concepts, Discourses and Examples. Münster ua: Waxmann, 139-154
 Nouri, J. (2012). Eliciting the potentials of mobile learning through scaffolding learning processes across contexts. International Journal of Mobile Learning and Organisation, 6(3), 285–302.
 Pachler, N., Bachmair, B., Cook, J. and Kress, G. (2010) Mobile Learning: Structure, Agency, Practices. New York: Springer.