Smart Learning

Smart learning is an emerging area alongside other related emerging areas such as smart technology, smart teaching,(1) smart education, smart-e-learning, smart classrooms, smart universities, smart society.(2) The challenging exploitation of smart environments for learning together with new technologies and approaches such as ubiquitous learning and mobile learning could be termed smart learning.(3)

The adjective ‘smart’ in smart learning involves some similar characteristics to the ones attributed to a person that is regarded as being ‘smart’. Some of these characteristics include the ability to “adapt in creative and innovative ways to novel or unusual circumstances”, to engage “in appropriate planning prior to making a decision or taking an action”, and to engage “in doing things that are generally effective and efficient.” In other words, being ‘smart’ is attributed to “an action or decision that involved careful planning, cleverness, innovation, and/or a desirable outcome.”(4)

Another definition of SMART is provided by the Interactive Technology and Smart Education Information peer-reviewed journal. It states that “SMART” is used as an acronym that refers to interactive technology that offers a more flexible and tailored approach to meet diverse individual requirements by being “Sensitive, Manageable, Adaptable, Responsive and Timely” to educators’ pedagogical strategies and learners’ educational and social needs’.(5)

Smart learning environments encompass “intelligent tutoring systems (ITSs)”, “adaptive learning systems”, “technology-enhanced learning“, “web-based learning“, “mobile learning“, “context-aware ubiquitous learning using sensing technologies”.(6) They enable learners to access digital resources and interact with learning systems in any place and at any time, and actively provide the necessary learning guidance, hints, supportive tools or learning suggestions to them in the right place, at the right time and in the right form. Basically, a smart learning system can be perceived as a technology-enhanced learning system that is capable of advising learners to learn in the real-world with access to the digital world resources. Various potential criteria have been identified in the literature for smart learning environments:

  1. A smart learning environment is context-aware; that is, the learner’s situation or the contexts of the real-world environment in which the learner is located are sensed, implying that the system is able to provide learning support based on the learner’s online and real-world status.
  2. A smart learning environment is able to offer instant and adaptive support to learners by immediate analyses of the needs of individual learners from different perspectives (e.g., learning performance, learning behaviors, profiles, personal factors) as well as the online and real-world contexts in which they are situated. Moreover, it can actively provide various personalized support to the learners, including learning guidance, feedback, hints and learning tools, based on their needs.
  3. A smart learning environment is able to adapt the user interface (i.e., the ways of presenting information) and the subject contents to meet the personal factors (e.g., learning styles and preferences) and learning status (e.g., learning performance) of individual learners. The user interface is not necessarily a conventional computer. Instead, learners can interact with the learning environment via mobile devices (e.g., smartphones or tablet computers), wearable devices (e.g., Google Glass or a digital wristwatch), or even ubiquitous computing systems embedded in everyday objects. Therefore, it is a challenging issue to adapt the user interface to meet the learners’ needs in a smart learning environment.

Learning resources, learning tools, learning communities, teaching communities, ways to learn and to teach are the six aspects that smart differs from traditional learning environment.(7)

Smart learning comprises not only what is called formal or traditional learning (learning that takes place within a school curriculum), but also and most importantly, informal learning which is all other forms of learning from informal channels (social media, Internet, MOOCs, game-based learning, and so on).(8)

The ever increasing penetration of personal devices, such as smart phones and tablets in people’s lives have started to produce relevant changes in all aspects of learning: spaces, contents, processes, monitoring methods and skills.(9)

The study of smart learning is constantly in expansion. For example, researchers are investigating how smart learning can translate into “Smart Cities” and “Smart Learning Cities” where citizens are hyperconnected through mobile communication technologies, creative and entrepreneurs. They want to see how such cities would help improve life quality and reduce costs.(10)

Researchers are striving to merge pedagogy and technology in order to create what is called “smart learning”.(11)

  • Pedagogy: learning paradigms, assessment paradigms, social factors, policy
  • Technology: emerging technologies, innovative uses of mature technologies, adoption, usability, standards, and emerging/new technological paradigms (open educational resources, cloud computing, etc.)
  • Fusion of pedagogy and technology: transformation of curriculum, transformation of teaching behavior, transformation of administration, best practices of infusion, piloting of new ideas

Computer science educators are increasingly using interactive learning content to enrich and enhance the pedagogy of their courses. A plethora of such learning content, specifically designed for computer science education, such as visualization, simulation, and web-based environments for learning programming, are now available for various courses. Such content is called smart learning content.(12)

Smart city and smart learning (13)

Smart learning is also being explored in the context of smart city, as the indicators of a smart city include smart economy, smart people(learning), smart governance, smart environment and smart living(14). As shown in the figure, smart learning system in the smart city construction process is a system that can provide comprehensive social services: on the one hand, it is a specific smart learning sector for a smart city, creating a city’s smart education system and citizens’ learning environments; on the other hand, it is also smart city management element of a smart city, which offers self-organized learning environments.

Smart classroom is one topic of the research about smart learning. Researcher has investigated smart classroom from different perspectives. The Smart Classroom integrates voice-recognition, computer-vision, and other technologies to provide a tele-education experience similar to a real classroom experience.(15) Smart classrooms should be associated with organizing and setting learning space in schools in a way that the best conditions for learning, physical and methodological, are generated in the most efficient and satisfactory way possible for all agents involved in the process.(16) The design of the smart classroom includes the presentation of material, access to learning resources, interactive teaching, contextual awareness, classroom layout and electrical management etc., which could be shown in SMART classroom model. SMART classroom concept model includes Showing, Management, Accessible, Real-time interaction, and Testing(17)

  1. International Journal of Smart Technology and Learning, retrieved from
  2. International KES Conference on Smart Education and E-Learning, retrieved from
  3. Mikulecký, P. (2012). Smart Environments for Smart Learning. In 9th International Scientific Conference on Distance Learning in Applied Informatics (pp. 213–222). Retrieved from
  4. Spector, J. M. (2014). Conceptualizing the emerging field of smart learning environments. Smart Learning Environments, 1(1), 1-10.
  5. Interactive Technology and Smart Education, retrieved from
  6. Hwang, G. J. (2014). Definition, framework and research issues of smart learning environments-a context-aware ubiquitous learning perspective. Smart Learning Environments, 1(1), 1-14.
  7. Huang, R., Yang, J., & Hu, Y. (2012). From Digital to Smart: The Evolution and Trends of Learning Environment [J]. Open Education Research, 1, 75-84.
  8. Kinshuk, Chen, N. S., Cheng, I. L., & Chew, S. W. (2016). Evolution Is not enough: Revolutionizing Current Learning Environments to Smart Learning Environments. International Journal of Artificial Intelligence in Education, 1-21.
  9. Giovannella, C. (2014). Smart Learning Eco-Systems:”fashion” or “beef”?. Journal of e-Learning and Knowledge Society, 10(3).
  10. Andone, D., Holotescu, C., & Grosseck, G. (2014, November). Learning communities in smart cities. Case studies. In Web and Open Access to Learning (ICWOAL), 2014 International Conference on (pp. 1-4). IEEE.
  11. International Conference on Smart Learning Environments Call for Papers, retrieved from
  12. Brusilovsky, P., Edwards, S., Kumar, A., Malmi, L., Benotti, L., Buck, D., … & Urquiza, J. (2014, June). Increasing adoption of smart learning content for computer science education. In Proceedings of the Working Group Reports of the 2014 on Innovation & Technology in Computer Science Education Conference (pp. 31-57). ACM.
  13. Ronghuai HUANG, Dejian LIU, Lei FAN, Rongxia ZHUANG, Haiguang FANG, Wei CHENG, Xiaolin LIU, Xiaochen WANG, Jing DU, Yuan CAO, Jiaming LI, Bingzhi YANG, Aijun ZHENG, Zehong SUN, Yanli JIAO, et al. (2015). White Paper: Smart Learning Environments in China 2015. Beijing, China: Smart Learning Institute, Beijing Normal University.
  14. P. Lombardi, S. Giordano, H. Farouh, and W. Yousef, “Modelling the Smart City Performance,” Inno- vation: The European Journal of Social Science Research 25: 2 (2012) 137–149
  15. Shi, Y., Xie, W., Xu, G., & Shi, R. (2003). The smart classroom: merging technologies for seamless tele-education. IEEE Pervasive …, 47–55.
  16. Bautista, G., & Borges, F. (2013). Smart classrooms: Innovation in formal learning spaces to transform learning experiences. Bulletin of the IEEE Technical Committeee on Learning Technology, 15(3), 18–21. doi:
  17. Huang, R., Hu, Y., Yang, J., & Xiao, G. (2012). The concept and characters of smart classroom. Open Education Research, 18(2), 22–27.
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