Learning with Smartphones: A Hermeneutic Phenomenological Study of Young People’s Everyday Mobile Practices


This study aims to understand how young people in Malaysia use their smartphones for learning and to uncover the meaning of these lived experiences. A review of the research literature reveals an apparent lack of theoretical and conceptual understanding of everyday mobile practices with regard to learning with smartphones. Applying the principles and practices of hermeneutic phenomenology, this study seeks to gain access to a phenomenon that is often subconscious and to interpret the participants’ learning experiences. Hermeneutic phenomenological research methods comprised the use of interviews, and a written reflective exercise. 12 youths ranging from 16-19 years old, participated in 3 rounds of semi-structured interviews over a period of 6 months. The findings reveal that participants’ learning is associated with self-identity and management of their images; dependent on their perception of its value and subject to influences from their peers, parents and the community at large. This study’s contribution lies in the discovery that for the participants, learning embedded in everyday mobile practices can be either serendipitous or purposive. Beyond the serendipitous and fragmentary learning of everyday mobile practices, there is evidence of deep, prolonged and purposive learning activities with the engagement lasting from 30 minutes to 4 hours per day. Both learning practices are characterized by personal agency, satisfaction and joy in the learning. The findings would suggest the importance of understanding more about the different types of learning occurring with the use of smartphones, the values attached by learners to this learning and the transferability of such skills and knowledge across spaces, time and dimensions. Further research including careful qualitative studies is suggested to better theorize the phenomenon. Policy makers and education authorities should support a research agenda developed and aimed at theorizing learning with smartphones and other smart devices using a range of quantitative and qualitative approaches. These studies should relate to one another by focusing on developing knowledge and understanding of learning with smartphones and would enable policy makers and practitioners to develop more well-informed polices and strategies to enhance learning, either in the classroom or outside it

    Similar works