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An Overview of Mobile-Learning application in a Life Insurance Industry in Taiwan Chung-Hsiung Fang, Graduate Institute of Industrial Technology Education, National Taiwan Normal University No. 162, Sec. 1, Hoping E. Rd., Taipei, Taiwan R.O.C. email@example.com Yu-Shan Cheng, Graduate Institute of Industrial Technology Education, National Taiwan Normal University No. 162, Sec. 1, Hoping E. Rd., Taipei, Taiwan R.O.C. firstname.lastname@example.org Guan-Li Chen, Graduate Institute of Industrial Technology Education, National Taiwan Normal University No. 162, Sec. 1, Hoping E. Rd., Taipei, Taiwan R.O.C. email@example.com ABSTRACT Because of the popularization of internet and computers, that has accelerated the speed of knowledge circulates. Mobil-learning becomes the primary choice for the enterprises. It is expected that could cut down the costs of training, achieving the self-learning real time, transmitting information immediately between an individual and the enterprise, and then achieving the high efficiency education & training. Manpower is core resource of the life insurance industry. These are the important directions of every enterprise that how to use time and resources effectively without restricting by place, and to absorb the new information continuously. This study aims at discussing what the present situation about the Mobil-learning in the life insurance industry. And we can also give the reference to the enterprise about the development in the future. Keywords: Mobile-learning, Education & Training, Life insurance industry. INTRODUCTION Change and development of science and technology in internet network, and mobile communication and carriers have been very fast and their application has been more and more extensive over the years. Nevertheless, they are mostly used in teaching methodology with the main purpose of improving the learning effect of the students. In the past, the scientific and technological products used by learners in classroom were no more than recorders and slides with the same learning contents, which did not fit in with the learning needs of individuals. With popularity of internet network and use of wireless network, therefore, information is offered to meet the demands of learners, that is information on demand, to exert learner-centered self oriented learning trough the initiative obtained with the knowledge equiped by the learners, and at the same time, wireless communication is used to provide instant and ighly related knowledge for learners. In spite of vigorous development of wireless and portable apparatuses and internet network, wireless E-learning and mobile-learning (shortened as M-Learning) is still in the stage of germination. With the progress of science and technology, mobile-learning has integrated portable computer and E-learning, attempting to do indivigdual learning in given environment without limitation of time and space (Quinn, 2001; Motiwalla, 2007). Nowadays, mobile-learning is introduced into enterprises, expecting to improve work efficiency of the employees, while mobile learners use such facilities and software training as PDA to assist in relevant work, in which relevant research is used to measure satisfaction of the mobile-learning users, and the satisfaction includes such three layers as system quality, content quality, and service quality (Kim and Ong, 2005; Venkatesh et al., 2006 ). Enterprises use mobile-learning to create the aforementioned three satisfactions and improve productivity by bettering efficiency of time management with wireless and portable apparatuses (BenMoussa, 2003; Motiwalla, 2007). In view of limited resources, enterprises are considering how to reduce their costs to achieve instant self learning and transmission of information between individuals and enterprises, and then complete high efficient education and training. Hence, mobile-learning has become the top choice of enterprises. In retrospect of the past related research, we come to understand that the application f mobile-learning can be divided into various categories, while the application development of mobile-learning can be classified into the two types of situation and collaboration. Mobile-learning activities can be divided into the following six categories: one is behaviorist—changing learner activities and promoting them to improve learning; the second is constructivism—learners build some new concepts actively on the basis of their existing knowledge; the third is situation—promoting learning within credible situation venation and culture; the fourth is collaboration—promoting learning through social interactive way; the fifth is informal and lifelong—supporting learning resources outside the main learning environments; and the last one is learning and teaching support—assisting coordination between learners and resources in case of learning (Tan & Goh, 2006). The new models of learning brought by the aforementioned activity types promote mobile science and technology widely used in teaching, sifting from the past traditional ways of learning into receiving new knowledge without restriction of space and flexibly using time, and into more efficient learning basing on the personal interests and motivations of the learners. Therefore, great importance has come to be attached to application of mobile-learning. Besides, behavior value can meet five possible demands of consumers: firstly, demands and arrangements as critical time; secondly, spontaneous demands; thirdly, entertainment demands; fourthly, efficiency demands; and finally, demands relating to flexibility (Kalakota and Whinston, 1997; Venkatesh et al., 2006). In other words, mobile-learning can meet the demands of learners for objectives at any time or place. Also because of this, many informal learning environment often aquarium new knowledge through mobile-learning, and the common environments for informal learning include such places as museums, art galleries, parks, aquarium, and so on （Goh & Kinshuk, 2006）. Stone, Briggs, & Smith (2002) have studied the efficiency increased for small and medium-sized enterprises(SME) was evaluated when using mobile-learning to develop the quality to communicate carriers under the good environment of teaching and learning. And the research has proved similar responses for SMEs and students to use wireless and portable carriers for learning and interaction. In addition, environmental and mobile-learning work of the SME members is assessed through the popular mobile information service (Motiwalla, 2007). Mobile-learning, as a concept, is also a kind of mobile service, describing integration of mobile communication and E-learning (Kim and Ong, 2005; Venkatesh et al., 2006). It is available in knowledge management activities in their companies and makes it easier for participants of knowledge management to share knowledge and technologies by using information and communication technologies (Venkatesh et al., 2006). Seeing from the aforementioned three points of view, mobile-learning will not only enlarge viewpoints of traditional learning in learning through work, but also help overall business, even have substantial effect on profit and loss of the company (Ellis,2003). Facing globalization and internationalization, the life insurance sector in Taiwan is at the turning point to change its direction under the competitive environment of globalization ad rapid flow of information. It is necessary for people in the sector to readjust the system of their organizations and change their operational orientations so as to improve the operational conditions of profit gaining and low cost. Besides, ―people‖ are critical for life insurance sector to gain profits and survive. It is one of the competitive edges for the sector how to improve qualities of the talents and offer efficient and perfect services for the customers. Therefore, it cannot be too important to emphasize the significance of developing good staff for the life insurance sector. OVERVIEW FOR MOBILE-LEARNING Overview of Mobile-learning Define It can be seen from the past researches that the relevant research for the sector to apply mobile-learning is scarce and that people in the sector seldom explore and study application of mobile-learning. In view of this, it is hoped that the needs of the life insurance sector for mobile-learning is addressed in the paper by literature review to provide important recommendations for the sector. Quite a few researches focus on different aspects of mobile-learning, in which the emphases and definitions of mobile-learning, Zurita & Nussbaum(2004) and Chen et al.(2005) focus on knowledge integration ―after learning‖ and developing right behavior using mobile media of science and technology to learn at any time and any place, while Lee(2005) thinks that the concepts of mobile-learning and E-learning are the same, the only difference is mobility, the differences between these two will be more and more unclear, and that is will be unnecessary to differentiate the definitions of mobile-learning and E-learning. Although it is mentioned in the article of Lee(2005) that behaviorist are not restricted by time and space, he emphasizes in the end that the concepts of mobile-learning and E-learning are the same. It can be seen from the above that focuses of mobile-learning will shift from the past mobile carriers, behaviorist, gradually and at any place to cognition of learning. It is more notable to build the environment and attitudes for learning basing on mobile carriers and behaviorists to make such tender regards as learning cooperation, independence, self-respect, and interpersonal relationship grow and acquire cognition and skills in learning effect. Based on the aforementioned documents, the research attempts to define mobile-learning as learning at any time or place under the environment of using scientific and technological tools as media, and learner-centered through wireless network, mobile carries, and passion for learning to improve work efficiency by developing cognition, tender regards, and skills. Overview the characters and the elements of form 1. The four characters for mobile-learning Sariola(2001)explains that the outstanding mobile-learning with its existing in any place and flexibility. Kynäslahti(2003)argues that the convenience, expediency and immediacy of mobile-learning prove its action power. The three features emphasize that the learning process and contents can be arranged flexibly according to learners’ requirements and objects without considering time and place. The study raises four characters of mobile-learning including any place, any time, any demand and its flexibility. 2. The four elements of form for mobile-learning Referring to foreign related researches, he study proposes four elements of mobile-learning: people that providing instruction book, learners, mobile-learning medium and constructivism. For more details, please see the following contents. mobile learner All the learning actions take learners for central, which are most crucial to education trainings. In mobile-learning, the two primary concepts are mobile people and learners. The first one refers to people(Hardless, 2000) working in different places for time-saving, whereas the second one refers to people studying and obtaining knowledge in any place and at any time for achieving their objects. From the abovementioned, the mobile learners refer to people with different demands that learning in various places and at any time by wireless internet technology and mobile carriers, or learning while they are moving. These learners are supported by their will of mobile-learning and objects. the instruction providers Comparing with teaching methods applied by schools, the training courses in business area are more diversified and vivid. Besides the teachers in taught classes, the action pilots or the instruction providers that transferring related information are also play roles in the learning. Their personal quality, professional knowledge and instruction methods have direct impacts upon the learners’ performances. Plus, the mobile-learning medium and tools are also very necessary in promoting the learners achievements both in study and work. Further, from the point of education, the learners provide a new direction in education process(Kambourakis et al.,2007). mobile-learning medium Referring to the medium in mobile-learning, it includes mobile carriers and communication technology. Chang, Sheu, & Chan (2003) argue that the medium is a necessary element for in carrying out the mobile-learning. The thin-profile and wireless-communication mobile carriers, such as PDA, laptop and smart phone, etc, are personalized tools that are light and short for convenient carrying. The communications technology refers to the equipments supporting communications between carriers and learners, such as wireless internet, access point, base stations, GPRS, General Packet Radio Services and other related technologies. Another important media is user interface that generates interaction between the learners and instruction contents. The application is considered in the interface design to prevent the users from confusions while operating interactive products. The user interfaces are divided into software and hare ware operation interface. The first one means the interfaces between computer software and its users, such as GUI (graphical user interface) including screen, windows, function list and indicating images tools, etc. All these interfaces are expressed by images. The latter one means substantial sites operated by users physically, such as control panel using traditional controller or monitor, life of battery and weight of mobile carriers, etc. Besides the above elements, the instruction contents are also very important. Without content, there will be no education. The instruction books mean structural information and shall also be supported by carriers, communication technology and user interfaces for instant learning. In this study, the mobile-learning medium covers mobile carriers, communication technology, user interface and instruction contents. In general, the medium transfers the information given by instruction providers to the learners by using interactions between them and instruction contents and mobile carriers. Therefore, the learners are able to use it for studying everywhere at any time to cultivate thinking abilities and promote studying achievements (Arnold, 2007). By using the medium, the learners that get used to such medium will find out new creative studying points in far-distance teaching everywhere at any time (Kambourakis et al., 2007). constructivism Zurita & Nussbaum(2004) holds that instead of a process, the constructivism is a kind of general orientation and can be applied in education contents and actions. The constructivism is divided into personal and social ones. The personal constructivism is more closed to the idea of self-directed learning. The learners can set their own objects according to their requirements to decide their contents, ways, process and resources. So the personal constructivism is more independent, self-directed and flexible. Yet, while encountering lot of immediate information, it might mess the circumstances up, which will shock the personal analysis and judgmental thinking abilities. On the other side, the social constructivism is more closed to cooperative learning idea, which emphasizes collective learning. It argues that the cooperative learning environments generate cooperation actions, coordination and express abilities. The learners share their achievements and opinions, even judge and correct each other. Via learning from each other in the team and cooperation in knowledge, the ability and technology will also be strengthened (Patokorpi, 2006). Not only adjustment of personal relationship, the learners can also be more constructive and realistic in their knowledge structure. The social constructivism is formed by various life experiences and therefore diversified. Plus, the learners can play cooperative roles. From the abovementioned, the four elements of mobile-learning are linked one by one and play active roles. Under the constructivism learning circumstances, the learners can study the contents given by mobile-learning providers by medium to train their thinking ability and strengthen their performances both in learning and work and, eventually increasing the production capacity. STATUS QUO FOR EDUCATION AND TRAINING OF LIFE INSURANCE EMPLOYEES Curriculum and contents of education and training for the life insurance sector With the coming of the era of knowledge economy, enterprises come to realize that talent development is key for age long survival and consider how to improve work capacity of the employees in a more efficient way. With the rise of internet network, people’s ways of life are changing gradually, and there has been another way to develop talents, that is, a way to learn various knowledge and skills more efficiently using internet transmission to acquire learning information and contents without limitation of time or space. Opening up of the domestic insurance market has resulted in more fierce competition in the sector. It is the common objective for both employees and organizations how to develop new customers, maintain their loyalty, and improve the market share. For the enterprises, the best way to achieve their objectives is to develop professional talents, and make the performances of the employees meet the expectation of the company and needs for individual income. It is only possible for life insurance companies to have good business by developing big marketing system, building branches extensively and employing many people to promote policies and expand business, a large number of outside-the -office people are needed, therefore, to promote various insurance products so as to achieve the objectives of the organization. Based on the differences between inside-and outside-the office staff, the main training contents as as follows (The Life Insurance Association of the Republic of China, 2007)： Inside-the–office staff：Every company sends some people to go abroad for further study and conducts training within the company. In addition, Taipei Life Insurance Business Association hires foreign professional institutions to come to Taiwan for seminars and invites domestic experts and scholars to have special lectures every year. Still, the Consortium Legal Person Insurance Development Center also have short-term training courses for employees to enhance exchanges of operational experience and improve professional qualitative. Outside-the-office staff：According to the Regulations on Management of Insurance Employees, life insurance employees must receive the basic training, pass the tests, and register before canvassing the business, and every life insurance company is supposed to offer on-the-job education and training to improve their professional knowledge and canvassing skills, and build their professional service capabilities, and to offer the best service for the policyholders is the objective for their training and management. Status quo for development of life insurance employees The education and training in the life insurance sector focus on professional marketing, and employees are encouraged to attend various authentication tests to improve their professional knowledge and image. In the light with the contents in Clause 12 of Regulations on Management of Insurance Employees, the status quo for development of the domestic life insurance salesmen is stated as follows: 1. Training before the job Before the qualification test, new entrants are required to receive basic education and training by the company, build and develop the basic professional attitudes and knowledge, and improve their orientation so as to bring greater interests for the organization. 2. On-the-job training After registration, they must attend on-the-job training curriculum by the company annually, which include: Intermediate education and training: Within one year after registration, they must attend on-the-job training by the company, with training time of no less than 30 hours and the curriculum contents include such 16 courses as product knowledge, insurance practices, promotion skills, social insurance, tax law on life insurance, risk options, insurance codes, communication skills, professional expansion, life design and life insurance underwriting, solvency practices, career planning, after-sale service, and annuity insurance. Advanced education and training: From the second year after registration on, they must attend on-the-job training by the company, with training time of no less than 12 hours and the curriculum include such 20 courses as insurance laws, increase of staff and selection of talents, organization and training, reinsurance conspectus, individual integrated income tax and mercantilism enterprise income tax, donation tax and legacy, tax claims case resolution, investment and financial management, client management, statements management, good work habits, inspiration of potentials, target market, career planning, time management, insurance medicine, medical underwriting, life insurance mathematics, use of computer, use of media, and self promotion. Test of investment-oriented commodities: The main purpose is to improve professionalism, and the qualification test held by the Insurance Development Center aims at sales of investment-oriented commodities. Salesmen must receive related basic curriculum training of no less than 15 hours on investment-oriented commodities by the company before attending the test and obtaining the certificate. Others：Such examinations as Financial Management Employees and Trust Employees held by Taiwan Financial Study and Training Academy build strength for self competition by catering to the future trend of diversified roles of the salesmen. With opening up of the life insurance market in Taiwan, employees in the sector all expand their organizational scale, increase their takings, and improve their market shares by acquisition or absorbing a large number of new entrants. As the sector is facing global competition, good or low quality of training of staff is crucial for companies of the sector. Hence, substantial ratios of the expenditures on training among the resources of the company, which will likely to reduce the flexibility for the company, distribute their resources effectively. In terms of trainings on sales of various new products, self-oriented learning centered on learners is given into play through the initiative to acquire knowledge and the instancy for needs of learning, the attributes of internet network, and the initiative of the learners to have knowledge. Simultaneously, wireless communication can offer instant and highly relevant knowledge for learners, its timing lies in immediate obtaining of the information needed for instancy of knowledge. This is very helpful in training on sales of new products, for it is possible for salesmen to have access to related information of the new products in the shortest time to find other relevant knowledge of marketing by using wireless communication, which improves the instancy for transmission of knowledge, and greatly shortens the time of training as well. In addition, the sharp increase of training before the job can be seen as fixed cost in the operational cost of the enterprise. Therefore, use of such tools as cell phones and PDA makes the new entrants understand the regulations, operational guidelines, work procedures, and future vision of the organization beforehand at the same time of fitting in with the new work environment and business, and then check the learning of the trainees with appropriate check system, which will reduce the substantial cost for training of new entrants. As for the time for training, most of the trainings should be done during the work time, and more time is arranged for special education and training. The higher their ranks, the more time for their training. For life insurance salesmen, the flexibility to distribute their time is highly related to their expansion of business. 由It can be seen from Table 1 : Statistics of Employees in Insurance Industry in 2007 that in the past ten years the ratio of outside-the office salesmen is 7 times as much as that of the inside-the-office staff, meaning that 7 out of 10 staff were salesmen, with the highest was 10:1. Hence, the traditional way of education and training time will restrict timing and leads to loss of individual and organizational performances. If supplemented by learning through such mobile carriers as cell phones, PDA, and the company offers digital information and text books and help mobile learners to absorb knowledge, the employees will have various latest resources for training without limitation of time or space (Lehner & Nosekabel, 2002). In the traditional way of education and training, employees gathered in a certain place, travel allowances, and food and lodging became considerable expenditures. Also, the trainees had to stop their business for the training. However, expansion of business is the base for survival of the company. Such mobile-learning ways with convenience, expediency, and immediacy (Kynäslahti, 2003), these can not only increase freedom and flexibility for learners to learn, but also efficiently distribute the time to visit clients and receive training. Also, they can choose curriculums basing on different needs, which improve learning efficiency at the one hand, and reduce the costs of the company to pay for education and training. And more importantly, learning and the performances showed are what really emphasized is (Abernathy, 2001). Table 1 Statistics of Employees in Insurance Industry Unit: people Year Total Non-life Insurance Industry Life Insurance Industry Ratio of Ratio of Growth Sales- Office Sales-pe Office Sales- Office Employees Salespersons to Salespersons to Rate % persons Clerks rsons Clerks persons Clerks Office Clerks Office Clerks 1993 160,749 48.35 142,137 18,612 - - - 142,137 18,612 7.64 1994 216,967 34.97 184,128 32,839 4,266 12,517 0.34 179,862 20,322 8.85 1995 250,607 15.50 215,290 35,317 9,338 12,965 0.72 205,952 22,352 9.21 1996 258,100 2.99 221,577 36,523 10,405 13,023 0.80 211,172 23,500 8.99 1997 273,575 6.00 236,210 37,365 12,084 13,169 0.92 224,126 24,196 9.26 1998 260,906 -4.63 222,656 38,250 20,155 13,357 1.51 202,501 24,893 8.13 1999 299,924 14.95 261,522 38,402 26,233 13,209 1.99 235,289 25,193 9.34 2000 306,245 2.11 266,617 39,628 32,199 13,554 2.38 234,418 26,074 8.99 2001 322,134 5.19 281,908 40,226 37,209 13,529 2.75 244,699 26,697 9.17 2002 340,237 5.62 303,564 36,673 53,991 13,464 4.01 249,573 23,209 10.75 2003 338,333 -0.56 299,986 38,347 60,179 13,963 4.31 239,807 24,384 9.83 2004 326,881 -3.38 287,990 38,891 57,874 14,517 3.99 230,116 24,374 9.44 2005 309,414 -5.34 270,275 39,139 67,538 14,300 4.72 202,737 24,839 8.16 Source: The Life Insurance Association of the Republic of China (2007) CONCLUSION AND SUGGESTION Conclusion It helps us to understand four linked and active elements in mobile-learning through discussing above documents. In the constructivism learning place, the mobile-learners are able to take related medium to study the contents given by instruction providers. Their thinking abilities and learning performance can thereby being cultivated and, the education training cost that the enterprises spend can also be decreased. Being supported by four elements, the mobile-learning makes people acquire new knowledge more actively and immediately without any time or space obstruction. In addition, the mobile-learning satisfies various demands asked by learners. They can study the instruction contents more flexibly by using mobile carriers, communications technology and medium. For enterprises, either e-learning or mobile-learning is a huge forward step. It helps people to study in working and assist in processing comprehensive tasks, even has substantial impacts upon the company’s profit and loss. So generally, the traditional learners’ visions have been expanded by mobile-learning. Talking about insurance in current competitive world, the staff training is the key point that decides the fate of company, which usually spends large proportion of its resources in staff training. Such action might decrease the flexibility of its resources distribution. Learners can use wireless communication technology, such as smart phone, PDA and other mobile carriers to study high-related knowledge immediately, particularly for those who want to acquire knowledge urgently. For salesmen, the time distribution flexibility is extremely important to promote their business. The wireless communication is able to help them to obtain information related to new products and search other related sales knowledge. Such method decreases training time to the large extent and strengthens immediate outcome generated from knowledge transfer. Plus, the wireless communication makes new staffs get used to new working environment and business, know the company’s regulations, business policies, working procedures and its future vision, etc. For the enterprises, they can test the learners’ performances supported by appropriate evaluating system to decrease expensive costs in new training. Suggestion The progress and convenience of science and technology continues to develop mobile-learning application fast. Yet, it still encounters many challenges, including the ideas that the enterprises are supposed to have while introducing the mobile-learning, the instruction content design and instruction methods, as well as how to avoid collateral damages caused by mobile carriers. We try to help enterprises to find out how to increase staffs’ learning achievements by mobile-learning and, make them get used to the work to promote their performances. To increase successful ratio and training efficiency for insurance operators in mobile-learning, the study raised the following suggestions aiming at Introduction Policy, Instruction Design of Mobile-learning, Damages caused by Science and Technology Application as well as Working Performance. 1.Introduction Policy for Enterprises For enterprises, to introduce the mobile-learning will have global effect upon the staffs across the company. From the introduction experiences of ERP, B2B and EC, most employees will resist to introduce science and technology as they generate changes. The senior executives shall therefore support related departments to achieve higher successful ratio. Their supports provided to human resources department are key elements to determine the successful or failed introduction. Incomplete introduction policy is the other primary reason to obstruct the enterprises in using the mobile-learning. The complete introduction policy covers many aspects including what problems that the mobile-learning will solve, the profits it generates, the beginning training and how it costs, the necessary budget for its maintenance, as well as taking the mobile-learning as supporting tool, etc. Plus, it should be understood that the real emphasis is achievements presented by such learning. Only after clarifying these problems, do the enterprises solve their problems by promoting employees’ skills forwardly and eventually increasing their integral performances through the mobile-learning. 2.Instruction Design of Mobile-learning The impacts generated by mobile carriers make us to reconsider the design of instruction action and contents, such as changing the learning place, selection of hardware equipment, internet application, learning tools matching and interactive model design, etc. All these are important factors that we should consider carefully in mobile-learning. 3.Damages caused by Science and Technology Application As stated above, the mobile-learning is promoted and used widely by booming science and technology. But it is also challenged by overloaded information, inappropriate information browsing, attention diverting, damage upon human body and abuses of science and science ant technology. So with exception of conveniences of time and space, we have to consider other appropriate questions, such as how to use contents of time, place and action instructions to make staffs study the content fast and safe in mobile-learning. 4. Working Performances The more the staff feels to complete the tasks or education training assisted by science and technology, the more that the tasks, functions of science and technology and staffs coincided with each other; the working performances will be increased by strengthening the demands requested by tasks and its degree of matching with science & technology. From this point of view, the staffs should accept science & technology and want to use them. Plus, the technology and its supporting tasks shall also cooperate closely. Based upon this, the study argues that besides providing mobile carriers and other related science & technology tools, we should also consider the staffs’ applications for mobile carriers, their cognition of action instruction contents and user interface operation ability, etc. Moreover, the study expresses that the staffs will be equipped with skills regarding using mobile-learning by training courses. The mobile-learning contents shall satisfy the staffs’ requests upon their jobs. It helps learners to promote their individual performances and therefore obtain the greatest advantages for enterprises. REFERENCES Abernathy, Donna J.2001. Get Ready for M-learning. Training and Development. Vol. 55. Issue 2. pp.20-21. Arnold, J. T. 2007. Learning on the Fly. HR Magazine. Vol. 52. Issue 9. pp.127-131. BenMoussa, C. 2003. Workers on the move: new opportunities through mobile commerce. Presented at the Stockholm Mobility Roundtable. pp. 22–23. Chang, C. Y., Sheu, J. P., & Chan, T. W. 2003. 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