Ubiquitous and Seamless Learning

Recently I have been reading articles where ubiquitous or seamless learning is frequently mentioned. I will attempt to use this post to explain what is meant by these two terms.

Mobile technologies enable learners to access learning content wherever they are, whether in the classroom, at home, or even on the way to somewhere. So in effect, any environment could be become a learning environment. Ubiquitous learning uses sensing and actuating devices to enhance the learning environment. For example, when a student approaches an object, sensors detect his/her presence and
transmit information about the object, which is received by the student’s mobile device. This is enabled through:

  • Context awareness – the system providing pedagogical flow and content to the learning environment should be aware of the learner’s situations. For example, through GPS, temperature sensors etc.
  • Context adaptivity – learning content should be adaptable to the particular setting in which the learners are situated.

While similar to ubiquitous learning, seamless learning “implies that students can learn whenever they are curious, in a variety of situations. They can easily and quickly switch from one scenario to another using their personal mobile device as a mediator, and can maintain the continuity of their learning across technologies and settings.” Learners could learn on their own, in groups or large online communities with the support of teachers and experts (Milrad et al, 2013). So there is seamless transition between formal and informal learning. This is enabled through:

  • Seamless adaptivity – the technology adapts to the learner without the learner being aware, e.g, learning content or services that are appropriate to the learner and settings (in the learner’s language, at the right level of difficulty, providing appropriate help etc).
  • Seamless connectivity – ensure the continuity of the learning experience by maintaining the learning across devices and settings, enabling learners to carry on where they left off, and to easily re-establish a learning activity from a previous time, by providing means to search back in time for a learning content or activity and then recall its context and connection.


Gilman, E., Sanchez, I., Cortes, M., & Riekki, J. (2015) Towards User Support in Ubiquitous Learning Systems. In press.

Marinagi, C., Skourlas, C., & Belsis, P. (2013). Employing ubiquitous computing devices and technologies in the higher education classroom of the future. Procedia-Social and Behavioral Sciences, 73, 487-494.

Milrad, M., Wong, L.-H., Sharples, M., Hwang, G.-J., Looi, C.-K., Ogata, H. (2013) Seamless Learning: An International Perspective on Next-Generation Technology-Enhanced Learning. In Z. L. Berge & L. Y. Muilenburg (eds.) Handbook of Mobile Learning. New York: Routledge, pp. 95- 108.


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