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Innovative mobile application to foster Mobile Collaborative Learning Environment (MCLE)

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Emergence of latest technologies has diverted the focus of people form Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning (CSCL) to mobile-supported collaborative learning. MCL is highly demanded in educational organizations to substantiate the pedagogical activities. Some of the MCL supportive architectures including applications are proposed and implemented in several fields to improve the activities of those organizations but they need more concise paradigm to support both types of collaboration e.g. synchronous and a synchronous. This paper introduces the new pre-usability testing method which provides educational support and gives complete picture for developing new pedagogical group application for MCL. The features of application includes user friendly interface, provision of rights to administrators for recording a collaborative activities of students and teachers during the whole session or any specific period of time, asynchronous collaboration, synchronous collaboration, support for multi model, provision for archive updating, providing the facility to contact and invite the participants for collaboration, middleware support, virtual support and delivery of large rich multimedia contents (video-on-demand). The application also supports the learners to recognize and mediate the participants in shared knowledge environment. Finally, to validate the features of application, we conduct the post usability testing and heuristic evaluation, which helps in collecting the empirical data to prove the effectiveness and suitability of Group application. Further, application aims to improve learning impact and educate people at anytime and anywhere.
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1
Innovative mobile application to foster Mobile
Collaborative Learning Environment (MCLE)
Abdul Razaque Member, IEEE & Khaled Elleithy, Senior Member, IEEE
Abstract Emergence of latest technologies has diverted the focus of people form Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning (CSCL) to mobile-
supported collaborative learning. MCL is highly demanded in educational organizations to substantiate the pedagogical activities. Some of the MCL
supportive architectures including applications are proposed and implemented in several fields to improve the activities of those organizations but they
need more concise paradigm to support both types of collaboration e.g. synchronous and a synchronous. This paper introduces the new pre-usability
testing method which provides educational support and gives complete picture for developing new pedagogical group application for MCL. The features of
application includes user friendly interface, provision of rights to administrators for recording a collaborative activities of students and teachers during the
whole session or any specific period of time, asynchronous collaboration, synchronous collaboration, support for multi model, provision for archive
updating, providing the facility to contact and invite the participants for collaboration, middleware support, virtual support and delivery of large rich
multimedia contents (video-on-demand). The application also supports the learners to recognize and mediate the participants in shared knowledge
environment. Finally, to validate the features of application, we conduct the post usability testing and heuristic evaluation, which helps in collecting the
empirical data to prove the effectiveness and suitability of Group application. Further, application aims to improve learning impact and educate people at
anytime and anywhere.
General terms: Collaborative learning, Development, Usability testing.
Keywords: Empirical results, Group application, MCL, Mobiles, Post usability testing, Pre-usability testing, User requirements.
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1 INTRODUCTION
Todays people are raised with new emerging technologies
as a phenomenal part of their routine lives. Mobile learning
has greatly paid the attention of the new generation toward
educational environment because mobiles are easily
accessible, ubiquitous and portable devices and used by the
majority of people anywhere and anytime. Mobile
telephony connects the large numbers of potential and
sophisticated learners through communication networks.
This situation indicates that there is high potential for
increasing the pedagogical learning with mobile devices [6].
MCL is a highly multidisciplinary learning paradigm
around the world [1]. It attracts the people through new
phenomenal way and its pedagogical, theoretical, technical
and organizational structures being deployed [4] & [5].
MCL initiates a new rationales and paradigms to deliver
learning materials into our daily life [8]. Many mobile
communication frameworks promote the mobile learning
through the learning portal by using Internet, sending SMS
and voice communication. MCL could be made more
effective due to convergence of promising interactive
features of audio, video, web and new emerging mobile
technologies in one package. Many pilot projects have
already been launched to meet the requirements of distance
education as part of e-learning to satisfy the demand of
information and communication technology (ICT) for
promoting the learning environments [7]. The main focus of
the projects is to develop specific applications with limited
features such as introduction of courses and quizzes.
The review of some usability testing and empirical survey
on the latest status of MCL that explores alternatives to help
the educational institutions to fulfill major functions of
processing, storage and disseminating information that can
be deployed with the issues of real life [9] & [10]. However
existing literature is not sufficient for developing more
powerful and general mobile application to meet most of
the basic user requirements. The leading mobile application
should have some interactive features to support self-
directed, cognitive and constructivist quality for
increasingly mobile learners to meet the educational targets.
The thirst in exploring the new application, leads us to
introduce new usability testing method with support of
heuristic evaluation for devising the basic user requirement
for MCL. On the basis of collected information, we
synthesize the new group application with very promising
features to support pedagogical, organizational, social and
other environments. Initially, validating the some of the
important features of Group application conducted the post
usability testing to find out the some core activities being
used in MCL. The remaining part of this paper presents
related work, pre-usability testing, which will help to
explore the basic user requirements for designing and
developing the new mobile application, section IV discusses
the development of group application. initially to validate
the some features of MCL, section V discusses the post
usability testing and finally, conclusion of the paper.
2 RELATED WORK
There are many related contributions that provide strong
support for importance of our new usability testing and group
application. A major study done in Mobile Learning
Environments (MLE) project was funded by Nordic Innovation
Center. This project provided the forum to invite the people
from businesses, universities and government organizations.
The focus of the project was to introduce the pedagogical
game-like practices in primary school systems of Nordic
countries. The tests were conducted at Denmark, Finland and
Sweden. The encouraging outcome of the project was to
motivate the researchers to design pedagogical tools and
applications [11].
The various types of mobile applications with general patterns
of interactions are suggested in [12]. The paper also focuses on
user study with low-fidelity and conduct paper-prototypes to
analyze them. The results provide the guidelines and best
practices for the design and development of general mobile
applications [12]. The theme of the paper is to introduce an
idea for development process of mobile application. The work
is handy but it does not target any issues faced by users during
the MCL. The Authors in [13] present the basic method of data
collections such as interview, observation, questionnaire,
survey and verbal protocol, which are employed for
conducting the usability test of mobile application. The
developed application covers the limited aspects for
collaboration. Another contribution in [14] targets to desktop
computing and subsequently leads for development of the
conceptual models that helps for evaluation of mobile phone
application. The authors mainly create the usability metric to
analyze the mobile application.
Quality in Use Integrated Measurement (QUIM) is presented in
[15]. QUIM helps the beginner who has trivial knowledge
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Mr. Abdul Razaque is PhD Student of computer science and
Engineering department in University of Bridgeport, 213 North Hall
170 Lafayette Street. E-mail: arazaque@bridgeport.edu.
Dr. Khaled Elleithy is the Associate Dean for Graduate Studies &
Professor in the School of Engineering at the University of
Bridgeport, Park Avenue, Bridgeport, CT, USA: E-mail:
elleithy@bridgeport.edu.
2
about the usability. This model covers 10 factors, which are
categorized into 26 criteria. The model provides 127 metrics to
measure the criteria. The model also helps in identifying the
problem of working applications. However, the model is
supporting the beginning process of usability testing but needs
to be validated.
The authors in [16] have proposed a prototype for their
participatory design project supported by inter generational
design group to build mobile application and incorporate into
iP Phone and iPod touch environment. The contribution
provides the opportunities to bring the children and
grandparents together by reading and editing the books. They
focus on specific filed but work is not handling the issues
required for effective MCL. The work already done in previous
papers do not provide the detailed information for building
very promising application for MCL that may handle the issues
for delivery of large rich multimedia contents (video-on-
demand), administrator rights to teachers to check their
courses and evaluate the progress of students, asynchronous
and synchronous collaboration, support for multi model,
provision for archive updating, user friendly interface,
middleware support, virtual support.
3 PRE-USABILITY TESTING & EMPIRICAL
RESULTS FOR DESIGN OF MCL
The most influential and challenging tasks for designing
and developing the mobile applications are to find out the
basic needs of end users and how the requirements of users
may be fulfilled and satisfied through applications. To meet
the target of users, usability testing method with heuristic
evaluation is the best practice to figure out the acceptable
solutions. The suitability of applications is evaluated later,
when the prototypes are tested and implemented, however
usability testing makes the work of bridging the users with
applications.
3.1 Setting Objective
In order to conduct ranking, we analyze various features of
MCL; some of them are already found in literature and arrange
them according to feedback obtained from human interaction.
These features provide the foundation to create new ranking
method based on pre-usability testing method. This method
involves the both genders including students, teachers,
teaching Assistant and Administrators. Furthermore, our
ranking method is based on two phases. In the first phase, we
collect the user requirements through literature survey,
interviews, coordination with experts of field to get valuable
suggestions and comments. In the second phase, we sort out
most influential basic requirements of users through
questionnaire.
3.2 Organization of Participants
The sources of collecting the information are Face book, vista
survey and personal interactions. The process of coordination
and conducting the interviews continued for four days. We
summarize the findings and comparing them with existing
literature survey. Finally, we combine all features by using
intersection strategy. The participants of 15 universities became
the part of this task. This task involves 106 users including 58
students, 23 teachers, 14 teaching assistants and 11
administrators from both genders. It helps in collecting the
following user requirements given as follows:
Interface should be easy to use
Asynchronous Collaboration
Synchronous Collaboration
To support multimodal MCL
To provide Archive updating
Should be User friendly interface.
To get a help from middle ware
To give virtual support
To provide application sharing facility and make easy text
communication
To provide admission functionality, if any user wants to
participate in middle of the session.
The administrators should be provided the opportunities
to record the collaborative activities of students and
teachers during the whole session or any specific period of
time
To provide the opportunities for interactive and shard
white board
Users may need short start time for collaboration
Server should provide content adoption service
The Students should have alternative choices in selecting
any topic for discussion
The Students should have access to check the comments
given by teacher regarding their performance and grades
The teacher should include critical notes for the
performance of each student after completion of MCL
session and provide the feedback to improve in future
To provide audio and video communication only
To provide connectivity management support
To provide the support for session management
To provide the checking facilities to instructor to check the
group members
To provide the freedom of thoughts to participating group
members
Server should give the message of information updating
To provide the facility of translation of audio, video and
text to other languages
Client should give notification of his/her availability
To provide the support for user role
Portfolio should be created in order to store an information
regarding the course
To include group manager component
The methods of communication should be direct or
mediated
The available digital materials should be integrated easily
Instructor should dedicate time to monitor the progress of
participating members
To provide the support to handle the shared information
To provide privacy and safety
To provide the facility to contact and invite the
participating for collaboration
The communication should be based on broadcast with
support of multicasting
To make small participating group for collaboration
To be flexible to collect and extract the data.
To provide text, graphs, images, audio and video services
to meet the requirements of related course of study.
The teachers should have complete access to administer
their courses and evaluate the progress of students
3.3 Conducting Evaluation and selecting basic
requirements
All selected items are evaluated by applying second phase
of ranking method based on questionnaire with support of
248 participants. These participants belong to education,
business, social organizations and common people. Vista
survey, face book, personal relationships helped to reach
to those people to be part of ranking for finding the most
basic user requirements. This activity helps to meet the
pedagogical requirements through MCL.
We have used five-level Likert item in questionnaire,
which helps to specify the level of agreement for each item.
The Likert method covers the Strongly Agree= 1, Agree= 2,
Neutral/No Opinion= 3, Disagree= 4 and strongly
disagree= 5. Finally, we get empirical results, which are
useful to understand the type of applications required for
designing and developing for MCL. We sort out only the
items, which have "strongly agree", "agree" and
"Neutral/No Opinion" response. The items against any
disagreement or strongly disagreement response are
received that are not considered as basic requirements.
We introduce scaling values against each response such as
strongly agree = 100 points, agree = 75 Points and
Neutral/ No Opinion = 50 Points. The points for each user
requirements are calculated with following formula.
Mean Points for Each basic requirements= (Strongly
Agree + Agree + No Opinion)/3
The formula helps in calculating the values for each items,
which are given against each basic requirements explained
in table 1.
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Table 1. Mean Value for each Basic requirement
Description of Basic Requirement
Mean
Value
Should be easy to use
100%
Should be User friendly interface
100%
To be flexible to collect and extract the
data.
99.698%
To provide text, graphs, images, audio and
video services to meet the requirements of
related course of study
99.497%
The teachers should have complete access
to administer their courses and evaluate
the progress of students.
98.995%
To support multimodal MCL
98.09%
The administrators should be provided the
opportunities to record the collaborative
activities of students and teachers during
the whole session or any specific period of
time.
97.59%
The teacher should include critical notes
for the performance of each student after
completion of MCL session and provide
the feedback to improve in future.
97.48%
The Students should have access to check
the comments given by teacher regarding
their performance and grades
97.289%
To provide the checking facilities to in
structor to check the group members
90.00%
The methods of communication should be
direct or mediated
89.35%
To provide privacy and safety
88.35%
To provide the facility to contact and invite
the participating for collaboration
83.83%
All of these testing procedures are helpful to understand the
type of applications required for MCL. Based on the above
results, we introduce innovative client-server based prototypes
and mobile application" group" that meet the pedagogical
targets of end users.
4 GROUP APPLICATION
MCL is a newly emerging revolution for pedagogical
requirements for all type of educational institutions. It allows
the users to get computer-based information through mobile
devices. MCL supports portability, connectivity, context
awareness and social interaction [2]. Mobile is successful
influential tool for collaboration, allowing the students to share
and update the information for obtaining the targeted
pedagogical activities. From one side, mobile creates the bridge
of opportunities, and from other side, limitations make the
hindrance for effective MCL. The limitations, which highly
degrade the performance of portable handheld devices, are
small size of screen, mobility, low resolution, navigation issue,
limited memory and bandwidth. The emerging technologies
make this task easier and accessible for all.
The development of general mobile application that covers the
many features for MCL can resolve the deep desire of students
to make possible collaboration with mobile anytime and
anywhere. Therefore our pre-usability testing gives the
complete picture for developing the mobile application that
will help the students to get the requested contents from server
to fulfill the course requirements. We focus to develop
application "group" with support of SDK and Visual basic and
running on android operating system (OS) shown in figure 2
with other working functional components, which consists of
control option and delivery option. The control option
performs the functionalities of add new contact, edit contact,
delete contact, existing collaborative group (C-G) and make
new C-G. Delivery option covers the function of receive and
send. When user requests for contents from server side, uses
delivery option and saves with help of store component.
Figure 2: Group application with working functional components
The store component is core area of mobile where
different type of data including file, audio and video
are available to be obtained from server for MCL. The
store component has also download option. The
participants can use this option for downloading the
data and storing onto Really Simple Syndication (RSS)
2.O for collaboration purposes. We developed the RSS
(website), which provides the RSS feed to all the users
to put and get contains frequently. Each section of
store component manages the various files, audio and
video. If once data is obtained that will be saved onto
the store component of mobile and uploaded in
relevant RSS feed. The upload section helps the user to
store all types of data in RSS feed to be availed by
participants member of same group for MCL. When
user finishes the process of storing the data in its own
RSS feed then informs the collaborative group by
sending multicasting message to participate. The
figure 3 shows main architecture that helps to get the
contents and store contents.
QUERY PROCESSOR
AUTHENTICATION
SERVER
CONTENT
SERVER
ENGINE
OPTIMAL AKAMAI
SERVER
USER-1
REQUESTING FOR
ASYNCHRONIZATION
DELIVERY IF DATA
DATABASE
MANGER
STREAMING SERVER (LIVE CONTENTS)
MOBILE-1
USER-2
REQUESTING FOR
SYNCHRONIZATION
DELIVERY IF DATA
MOBILE-2
HTTP
CLIENT
USER
PROFILES
FILE
SYSTEM
MANAGER
REP-2
REP-1
REP-N
INTERNET
CLOUD
HTTP
SERVER
CACHE SERVER
CONTENT
MANAGEMENT
SYSTEM (CMS)
STORED
CONTENTS
LIVE-CONTENTS
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Figure 3: Architecture for Mobile collaborative learning
When participants of group obtains the message for MCL
and go to download the data from RSS feed of requested
user. When they complete the process of downloading the
required information from RSS feed of requested user, starts
to process the MCL. If participating members of group need
file for MCL, therefore open the file to obtain the
information of the contents. In case the information of file is
not sufficient to clear their understanding about the topic
then play the video of related information.
The group application provides utility to manage and
control the data with its relevant options. If type of data is
based on only "text" then file option is used, otherwise
audio and video options are used. When each of
collaborative members get to know about topic,
subsequently starts the process of MCL by using existing
collaborative group (Existing CG) option shown in figure 4.
The process can be supported by using H.323 at the server
side to facilitate the real-time audio and video
communication. The H.323 protocol will help to
collaborative members to discuss the contents after reading
and watching the video of related information. The
important feature of H.323 is provision of point-to-
multipoint, which creates the opportunities for all to
participate simultaneously. The Quality of service can also
be maintained by using H.323 [3]. With implementation of
this application, MCL can be more successful with various
promising features.
Figure 4: Participants of groups, sharing the information through MCL
5 POST USABILITY TESTING & EMPIRICAL
RESULTS FOR GROUP APPLICATION
In this section, we discuss post usability testing for group
application based on heuristics and questionnaires. We choose
the field test method that was conducted in the main lobby of
North Hall in Bridgeport University and 08 participants took a
part in application testing process. The tests evaluate the
usability of group application. With this application, the users
can transfer files between laptops and the mobiles. The
usability of group application testing procedure invites the
multiple types of participants because many are familiar and
belonging to mobile and wireless communication field and
fewer possess less expertise in this field but know how to use
mobile devices to make MCL.
Some users are using the chat service process to validate the
performance of features of applications on the basis of
activities shown in figure 5.
Figure 5: Recording the performance of various features of
"Group" application
We devise the testing method using three steps. First, we
introduce the testing procedure from design phase to
conducting the test. Second, make all the related operations of
group application and finally, we give the questionnaire to all
the participants based on 5-level Likert method, so that
participants give the answers after completing the appropriate
tasks shown in figure 6
Figure 6: Testing the some features of group application for post usability
testing
After completion of questionnaire, we arrange the meeting
in which all the participants come and share their
experience and give their impression regarding the test. We
also get suggestions regarding the redesign and
modification of application. When participants leave the
room, we compile the results and arrange in form of table
for better understanding shown in table 2.
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Table 2. Showing the comments of participants after
CONLUSION AND FUTURE WORK
With emergence of innovative technologies in mobile
communication and applications, the successful usability
testing gains high importance in the design, development
and deployment of interactive mobile applications.
Therefore, it is essential to synthesize and adopt meaningful
research methodologies in conducting the usability testing
to analyze mobile applications. The contribution goes to
creation of successful educational learning environment and
development of highly supportive MCL application. This
paper targets some of the major challenges being faced to
enhance the student learning outcomes.
The study of existing empirical literature and pre-usability
testing based on interviews, questionnaire and heuristic
evaluation highlight some features having importance for
designing and developing the MCL application. Most of the
mobile learning applications are limited to short-funded
pilot projects, which were developed for special purposes or
individual courses offered by their institutions. The most
motivating and encouraging factor, which greatly impact on
the success or failure of MCL depends on balancing of
technology and human factors, how to create an effective
pedagogical paradigm to support the various major basic
user requirements for obtaining the contents through
mobile devices. In addition, the way we spend our daily life
in shopping, working, playing, learning highly being
affected due to mobility of busy schedule. To control over
some significant issues and providing an easy access of
MCL at anytime and everywhere, introduce new group
application.
It provides user friendly interface, access to administrators
to record the collaborative activities of students and
teachers, asynchronous and synchronous collaboration,
multi model support, provision for archive updating,
providing the facility to contact and invite the participants
for collaboration, middleware support, virtual support and
delivery of large rich multimedia contents (video-on-
demand). Finally, we validate our claim by conducting the
post usability testing and heuristic evaluation. In future, we
will introduce more supporting features and software
threads to complete MCL for different organizations.
ACKNOWLEDGMENT
The authors wish to thank M.B (University of Harvard, USA)
for many helpful discussions for design of architecture. The
authors would also be thankful to David Lee (AT & T), USA)
for providing technical support.
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[17]
Post Usability Testing of fields
Comments of
participants
Should be easy to use
Strong Positive=08
Positive=00
Neutral=00
Negative=00
Strong Negative=00
Should be User friendly
interface
Strong Positive=08
Positive=00
Neutral=00
Negative=00
Strong Negative=00
To be flexible to collect and
extract the data.
Strong Positive=06
Positive=01
Neutral=01
Negative=00
Strong Negative=00
To provide text, graphs, images,
audio and video services to
meet the requirements of related
course of study
Strong Positive=06
Positive=01
Neutral=01
Negative=00
Strong Negative=00
To support multimodal MCL
Strong Positive=05
Positive=01
Neutral=02
Negative=00
Strong Negative=00
The Students should have
alternative choices for selecting
any topic to discuss.
Strong Positive=03
Positive=02
Neutral=02
Negative=01
Strong Negative=00
To provide the facility to contact
and invite the members for
collaboration
Strong Positive=02
Positive=03
Neutral=03
Negative=00
Strong Negative=00
6
BIOGRAPHY
Mr. Abdul Razaque is PhD
student of computer science
and Engineering department
in University of Bridgeport. His
current research interests
include the design and
development of learning
environment to support the
pedagogical activities in open,
large scale and heterogamous
environments, collaborative
discovery learning and the
development of mobile
applications to support mobile
collaborative learning (MCL), the congestion mechanism of transmission of
control protocol including various existing variants, delivery of multimedia
applications.
He has published over 30 research contributions in refereed conferences,
international journals and books. He has also presented his work more
than 10 countries. During the last two years he has been working as a
program committee member in IEEE, IET, ICCAIE, ICOS, ISIEA and
Mosharka International conference. Abdul Razaque is member of the IEEE,
ACM and Springer Abdul Razaque served as Assistant Professor at federal
Directorate of Education, Islamabad. He completed his Bachelor and
Master degree in computer science from university of Sindh in 2002. He
obtained another Master degree with specialization of multimedia and
communication (MC) from Mohammed Ali Jinnah University, Pakistan in
2008. Abdul Razaque has been directly involved in design and
development of mobile applications to support learning environments to
meet pedagogical needs of schools, colleges, universities and various
organizations.
Dr. Khaled Elleithy is the
Associate Dean for Graduate
Studies in the School of
Engineering at the University of
Bridgeport. His research
interests are in the areas of,
network security, mobile wireless
communications formal
approaches for design and
verification and Mobile
collaborative learning. He has
published more than one
hundred twenty research papers
in international journals and conferences in his areas of expertise.
Dr. Elleithy is the co-chair of International Joint Conferences on Computer,
Information, and Systems Sciences, and Engineering (CISSE).CISSE is
the first Engineering/Computing and Systems Research E-Conference in
the world to be completely conducted online in real-time via the internet
and was successfully running for four years. Dr. Elleithy is the editor or co-
editor of 10 books published by Springer for advances on Innovations and
Advanced Techniques in Systems, Computing Sciences and Software.
Dr. Elleithy received the B.Sc. degree in computer science and automatic
control from Alexandria University in 1983, the MS Degree in computer
networks from the same university in 1986, and the MS and Ph.D. degrees
in computer science from The Center for Advanced Computer Studies in
the University of Louisiana at Lafayette in 1988 and 1990, respectively. He
received the award of "Distinguished Professor of the Year", University of
Bridgeport, during the academic year 2006-2007.
... DESIGN OF GROUP APPLICATION Before MCL is a newly emerging revolution for pedagogical requirements for all type of educational institutions. It allows the users to get computer-based information through mobile devices.MCL supports portability, connectivity, context awareness and social interaction [2] ...
... The main focus of the projects is to develop specific applications with limited features such as introduction of courses and quizzes. The review of some usability testing and empirical survey on the latest status of MCL that explores alternatives to help the educational institutions to fulfill major functions of processing, storage and disseminating information that can be deployed with the issues of real life [9] & [10]. However existing literature is not sufficient for developing more powerful and general mobile application to meet most of the basic user requirements. ...
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With deployment of modern technologies, interest of people have diverted from Computer-Supported learning to mobile-supported learning. Mobile learning is greatly demanded in educational organizations to demonstrate the pedagogical activities. Some of MCL supportive frameworks and applications have been introduced in numerous fields to advance the activities of those organizations but they require more succinct standard to sustain collaboration successfully. This paper introduces the new marking and heuristic evaluation method that provides educational support and gives entire picture for developing new educational group application for MCL. The features of application support asynchronous and synchronous collaboration. To authenticate various features of application, usability testing is conducted that helps to find the feedback of users. Further, application aims to improve learning impact and educate people at anytime and anywhere. General terms: Theory, Development, Usability testing.
... Mobile is successful influential tool for collaboration, allowing the students to share and update the information for obtaining the targeted pedagogical activities. From one side, mobile creates the bridge of opportunities, and from other side, limitations make the hindrance for effective MCL [17]. The limitations, which highly degrade the performance of portable handheld devices, are small size of screen, mobility, low resolution, navigation issue, limited memory and bandwidth. ...
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