Robert Power

The CSAM Framework

This section provides an overview of the Collaborative Situated Active Mobile (CSAM) learning design framework, and the work that has been done with CSAM (including my doctoral dissertation research in the Doctor of Education in Distance Education program with the Center for Distance Education at Athabasca University, Canada).

What is CSAM?

  • CSAM stands for Collaborative Situated Active Mobile learning design strategies.
  • CSAM is a distillation of the key pedagogical elements guiding the instructional designs of case studies of the use of mobile RLOs to facilitate collaborative learner interaction.
Figure 7.1
Figure 7.1 The CSAM Framework

The following table from Power (2013) summarizes the use of CSAM for reflective practice:

Table 7.1

CSAM guided questions for reflective practice

C Collaborative Does your mLearning design provide learners with an opportunity to collaborate?

  • If yes, great! Are there any ways that learners could be collaborating more?
  • If no, are there any ways that the learning activity could get learners working together, or sharing skills or ideas?
S Situated Is your learning activity situated in a realistic context?

  • If yes, great! Learning is more meaningful and fun when it is in a realistic context.
  • If no, how can you change your learning activity so that it takes place in a realistic context?
A Active Do your learners have an opportunity to do something with the content they encounter in your mLearning activity?

  • If yes, great! Engaging with content reduces boredom, and makes learning more meaningful.
  • If no, is there anything your learners could do with the content to create a new artifact, or to make the content more personally meaningful?
M Mobile Does your mLearning design free learners from the tether of traditional classroom routines?

  • One of the aims of mLearning is to expand learning possibilities.  It can be a powerful way to augment other successful classroom strategies.
  • Getting learners to use their mobile devices creates excitement, and gets them engaged in the learning activity.
  • You do not need to take your learners out of the classroom to eliminate the classroom’s walls!
  • If you do take learners outside of the classroom, using mLearning resources is a great way to provide them with the resources they will need, connect them with you and with each other, and focus learners on the intended learning task.

CSAM in the Literature

CSAM learning design is represented in approximately one fifth of all chapters and articles analyzed in a meta-analysis of mobile learning publications between 2009-2014. The CSAM pedagogical components were represented in 86% of the chapters and articles that were about mobile RLOs, or that included mobile RLOs as supporting examples. Of the mobile RLOs that were described as supporting collaborative learning, 96% integrated all four CSAM pedagogical elements.

Figure 7.2
Figure 7.2 Ratio of CSAM RLOs in mLearning Literature (2009-2014)

CSAM and Learning Theory

The development of the CSAM learning strategies framework has been influenced by Koole’s (2009) Framework for the Rational Analysis of Mobile Education (FRAME) model. Like FRAME, CSAM is congruent with:

  • Transcactional Distance Theory
  • Activity Theory and the Zone of Proximal Development

You can learn more about the theoretical underpinnings of CSAM by reading my paper in Learning and Teaching in Higher Education: Gulf Perspectives, or from my poster on CSAM presented at the Mobile Learning: Gulf Perspectives Symposium in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, in April 2013.

Figure 7.3
Figure 7.3 CSAM Poster (View on Slideshare)

Supporting Models and Frameworks

CSAM is also congruent with:

CSAM Teacher Professional Development MOOC

The CSAM Professional Development course was originally developed for a research study to investigate the impact of the CSAM learning design framework on teachers’ perceptions of comfort, confidence, and interest in integrating mobile RLOs into their teaching practice.

The first version of the CSAM course was called Creating Mobile Reusable Learning Objects Using Collaborative Situated Active Mobile (CSAM) Learning Strategies. The course was created using the Canvas learning management system, and was run as a professional development course as part of my dissertation research.

Current Versions

The are two new versions of the CSAM course created using the Canvas LMS. The first is called Mobile Reusable Learning Objects and the CSAM Framework. That course is designed to be used for workshop presentations, as an introduction and overview for mobile learning teachers who are looking for new ways to provide professional development opportunities at their own institutions. You can use the link below to self-register in that course now, if you want to take a look around!

A second new version is called The CSAM RLO – Creating Mobile Reusable Learning Objects Using the CSAM Learning Design Framework. That course is similar to the original PD course developed for my dissertation research study, and is available for download as a Master Course Pack file. The course is an open educational resource (OER), and can be imported, ready to go, into new course shells created in Canvas!

How it Works:

  • Download a copy of the CSAM RLO Master Course Pack
  • Extract the .zip file
  • Create your own free teacher account at Canvas (if you do not already have one!)
  • Create a new course
  • Import the CSAM RLO course content from the CSAM RLO Master Course Pack
  • Edit the course information as required, set your course dates, and go!

Citing the CSAM RLO Course

The CSAM RLO course and Master Course Pack are open educational resources, posted using a Creative Commons attribution. Please cite them as follows:

Power, Robert (2014). Creating mobile reusable learning objects using the CSAM learning design framework. Available from

More Information

Visit the CSAM website.


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IAmLearning: Mobilizing and Supporting Educator Practice Copyright © 2017 by Robert Power is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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