Schuck, Sandy, Kearney, Matthew, & Burden, Kevin. (2017). Exploring Mobile Learning in the Third Space. Technology, Pedagogy and Education, 26(2), 121-137.


Mobile learning is defined as “any type of learning that takes place in learning environments and spaces that take account of the mobility of technology, mobility of learners and mobility of learning” (EI-Hussein and Cronje, 2010). It is a growing interest and topic among teachers and students. The learning experience rapidly is changed by this new learning type. The article used the metaphor of the Third Space to extend notions of twenty-first-century learning and used Mobile Pedagogy Framework to support this discussion. At the end of the paper, the article suggested the implication of learning in the Third Space in education.

Summary of key points

  • Using the Third Space to extend notions of twenty-first century learning
    • Soja (1996) was the first person who suggested the Third Space encouraged the rejection of binary relationship and new, hybrid, socially produced sites for collaboration.
    • Zeichner (2010) introduced the concept of Third Space into education to represent the hybrid space between the school and university.
    • Current views of learning need to be extended, views that anchor learning to classrooms, rooted in traditional concepts of time and place.
  • Mobile technologies as facilitators of learning in the Third Space
    • Mobile technologies allow learning to go across boundaries and contexts.
    • Three examples were used to illustrated how mobile learning may articulated a new space for contemporary learning by using the Third Space: teacher-mediated, student-initiated, hybrid example.
  • Designing for learning in the Third Space
    • Rethinking contexts for learning: Mobile Pedagogy Framework (Kearney et al., 2012) helps educators to think about how to design learning across boundaries.
    • Three highlighted features of mobile learning: collaboration, personalization and authenticity.
  • Implications of learning in the Third Space:
    • Teacher and students need to change their roles;
    • Teachers need to skill themselves in knowledge of the Third Space;
    • Redesign more flexible curricula;
    • Reliable and validate Assessments;
    • Develop high ethical principles.

Example work

  1. Teacher-mediated example: a secondary school visual arts learning task was designed by teachers. The students used their mobile device in creating own photographs and video, critiquing the artifacts and sharing thoughts via social media, and using QR application to obtain further information.
  2. Student-initiated example: illustrate how students are capable of initiating their own learning activity via the Minecraft on their personal devices.
  3. Hybrid example: illustrate how students initiated their own collaborative activity based on a stimulus question posed by their teacher, in a study conducted from Schuck, Maher and Perry (2015).

Discussion questions

  1. What is “Third Space” and its history?
  2. Mobile learning in the Third Space raises some confront questions about what is important or what is no longer important, could you provide some examples?
  3. What roles of teacher and student play in mobile learning environments?

Additional resource:

Moran, C. (2018). Learners Without Borders: Connected Learning in a Digital Third Space. Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education, 18(2), 233-254.


  • El-Hussein, M. O. M., & Cronje, J. C. (2010). Defining mobile learning in the higher education landscape. Educational Technology & Society, 13(3), 12–21.
  • Kearney, M., Schuck, S., Burden, P., & Aubusson, P. (2012). Viewing mobile learning from a pedagogical perspective. Journal for Research in Learning Technology, 20(3), 1–17.
  • Schuck, S., Maher, D., & Perry, R. (2015). Moving classrooms to Third Space learning: Investigating mobile-intensive pedagogies in schools. Report for Microsoft.
  • Soja, E. W. (1996). Thirdspace: Journeys to Los Angeles and other real-and-imagined places. Oxford: Blackwell.
  • Zeichner, K. (2010). Rethinking the connections between campus courses and field experiences in college- and university-based teacher education. Journal of Teacher Education, 61, 89–99.



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