Why Mobile learning still matters
What is mobile learning?
Mobile learning is a broad term used to refer to any teaching and learning that happens with the use of mobile devices and platforms. Mobile learning devices would include electronic gadgets like mobile phones, tablets, laptops, etc. Platforms are constantly being developed for mobile learning devices – from video players to platforms that allow all-round accessibility, messaging services that keep teachers and students connected and so on.
How did mobile learning grow in education? What does mobile learning look like in action?
Mobile learning has been around in one form or another since the early 2000s. This was an inevitable development thanks to the increasing ubiquity of technology in our lives. The introduction of the personal computer sparked a revolution that had students and teachers increasing use of electronic devices for their learning and teaching experiences.
As time passed, mobile devices that were more portable became popular. This resulted in students studying presentations on their tablet, watching an instructional video, taking a multiple choice quiz on their mobile phones, or even joining massive online open courses with thousands of other students all over the world to keep learning.
What are the advantages of mobile learning?
- Anytime and anywhere learning
One of the immediate advantages of mobile learning is that students are not confined to a classroom or a set schedule to be able to learn. Neither are teachers! Mobile learning means that students are able to log into classrooms at their convenience to go through course materials or take a test. Similarly, teachers are able to communicate on the go with students to clear their doubts, administer tests, or even communicate with a student’s parents about their child’s progress.
This all-round, anytime and anywhere accessibility means that learning is not confined to a physical location or a specific time. Instead, students can learn on the go at a pace that works for them. This results in students engaging voluntarily on their own terms – which means that they feel empowered by the learning process instead of it just being another day in school.
- Digital first thinking
The current workforce comprises a large swathe of millennials. These are employees who have grown up around technology and are used to using it in their everyday life. They are comfortable with engaging with digital devices, mediums and platforms to make their work easier and better. Why should this not start at school? Mobile learning is tailored to the way millennials work and think. It makes learning more accessible for them and prepares them to enter the workforce ready for the real world.
Mobile learning is at the heart of embracing a forward-thinking, digital-first approach to life. It ensures that students who engage in mobile learning are ready for the real world and are able to cope with it better than Luddites who are scared of technology.
- Dynamic teaching methodologies
Mobile learning is extremely friendly to newer and modern teaching methodologies. It is extremely friendly towards visual learning since it so easily supports audio, video and images. This means that content is built for mobile learning is inherently dynamic. These fast-paced, visually engaging graphics have been found to be more engaging for students in a classroom – it keeps their attention and conveys course material in an effective fashion.
Mobile learning also allows for more modern teaching methodologies like the use of dynamic content and experiential learning to be implemented more easily in the classroom. This means that classrooms are experiencing cutting-edge teaching instead of relying on old and outmoded teaching methods that might not be as effective — all thanks to mobile learning.
- Personalisation of learning
One of the best things about mobile learning is its flexibility. Teachers and students are able to learn on the go and at their own pace. Different types of teaching methods and dynamic material can be used to great effect. All this flexibility means that mobile learning is perfect for personalising learning. Personalised learning means that students are able to use their personal mobile learning devices to access course materials, test, content, etc that have been tailored to their taste and abilities.
Why do we need personalised learning, to begin with? As we study education more we understand that it is not helpful to stereotype students or categorise them into too broad groups. Students are diverse in nature, with diverse abilities and needs – mobile learning, thanks to its inherent flexibility, is better able to address this diversity in thinking.
What are the disadvantages of mobile learning?
- Increasing reliance on technological tools
While a forward thinking, digital embracing approach to education with mobile learning is found to be undeniably useful, it also results in students losing touch with older skills that do not rely on technology. This is especially the case for trade skills like handymen skills, woodworking, working in arts and crafts etc. This is a serious loss in terms of some types of skills dying out and thus becoming more and more expensive in the marketplace.
- Distracted learning
Unfortunately, one disadvantage of mobile learning is that it merely increases the amount of screen time a student indulges in one day. While on one hand we actively try to reduce time spent in front of a computer, mobile, tablet, or TV screen for students – especially those that are younger – mobile learning necessitates that students spend time in front of a screen to learn. Screen time can be habit forming and in some cases addictive. Mobile learning must thus be regulated keeping in mind the other hours a student spends in front of a screen.
- Multitasking hurts recall of course material
Multitasking – another side effect of mobile learning – has also found to be not conducive to recall and retention of material. In fact, studies show that in some ways note taking using pen and paper really does result in the better recall. Mobile learning content should thus be built in a way that helps address distracted learning.