This section analyses the contexts within which UK educational institutions have (and will) initiate mobile learning initiatives. ‘Context’ as defined by Brown (2010, p.7) is:
“the formal or informal setting in which a situation occurs; it can include many aspects or dimensions, such as environment, social activity, goals or tasks of groups and individuals; time (year/month/day).”
More specifically in the mobile learning research, ‘context’ is used to the context of learning, supported by the mobile technology. Instead of fixed contexts, therefore, they become dynamic, “encompassing interactions between learners and their goals, artefacts and learning materials, physical and social settings, and technologies” (Mike Sharples). The importance of context is emphasised by Wingkvist Ericsson (2010, p.184) who state that those mobile learning initiatives that have not understood the context well enough “will not survive beyond the scope of the initiative and the project‘s enddate.”
Three contexts are presented here as of relevance to UK institutions. The European context is also, to a great extent, the Western context as Europe has historically been at the forefront of mobile learning initiatives. The research context comprises a brief overview of some of the most important literature, providing theoretical underpinnings for mobile learning initiatives. Finally, the pedagogical context attempts to situate mobile learning initiatives within practical student-focused learning theories.