James Oldfield

Design principles for a tablet supported authentic learning environment 


The overall aim of the study is to explore how tablet computers can be used as cognitive tools to support and enhance learning in an authentic learning environment.

This research is intended to identify successful methods for integrating mobile learning methods in an authentic learning environment. A design-based research approach (Reeves, 2006) will be used to develop, iteratively test and improve the design principles in an academically rigorous manner. Students should benefit from this research as they should be more engaged in a simulated real world learning environment enhanced through the use of cognitive tools (iPads). An authentic context will be maintained throughout the course as all students will be operating as ‘employees’ in a fictitious company. All students in the class are allocated an iPad that they can use for the whole semester (regardless of their involvement in the study). They are encouraged to use it personally as well as for this class and others. In addition to this, the teaching plan implemented for this research involves free iBooks in place of an expensive textbook. Students will therefore save money because of the project.

The results of this research should provide a blueprint of design principles for mobile authentic learning to the wider education community. Other teachers can benefit from this research as they will have guidance on how to create their own mobile authentic learning environment.


Oldfield, J., & Herrington, J. (2012). Mobilising authentic learning: Understanding the educational affordances of the iPad. In:  In M. Brown, M. Hartnett & T. Stewart (Eds.), Future challenges, sustainable futures. Proceedings ascilite 2012 (pp.723-727). Wellington, NZ: ascilite.