We’ve all been there–stuck in a hot, sticky classroom on a warm June day. Hair drenched in sweat, thighs against our plastic chairs, and nothing to separate us from the outside except panels of glass. We all thought, “There must be a better way.” Thankfully, that better way is here and it’s called “M-Learning”.
What is M-Learning?
M-Learning, aka “mobile learning,” is defined as any learning that takes place using a personal mobile device such as a tablet, laptop or mobile phone. M-Learning allows learners to engage in learning beyond the confines of traditional educational settings. Simply put, M-Learning and mobile devices are the next step in online learning–allows students to say, “goodbye, hot class” and “hello, fresh air.”
What are the benefits of M-Learning?
Experts in education and technology list several benefits associated with introducing M-Learning to traditional educational institutions and job-related training.
1. Offers Convenience
Mobile learning can take place anywhere, anytime, and for a long time. This not only allows students to cope with their busy schedules, but also allows them to capitalize on time that would otherwise be wasted such as time spent waiting for appointments or taking the subway.
2. Attract Different Learning Styles
Learning styles are as varied as learners, themselves, and M-Learning appeals to a wide spectrum. Mobile devices allow students and trainees to read texts, hear the spoken word, watch videos, contribute to conversations, and more. It also better enables students to meet curriculum expectations on assignments in ways that suit their individual learning styles. A student may wish to demonstrate their understanding of Shakespeare by writing an essay; one can choose to shoot a dramatic video; while others may decide to make a photo collage.
3. Drive Greater Engagement
Goodbye passive learning. Instead of just listening to someone talk about a concept, M-Learning encourages students to actively participate in the educational process. The design of the mobile device itself goes a long way in increasing student engagement by getting them to press or swipe on the screen. However, the design of many M-Learning educational activities includes small pieces of information followed by quizzes and assessments, educational games, high-level visual information, and opportunities to interact with other students and teachers.
4. Improve Technology Skills.
M-Learning not only conveys information related to a particular lesson, but will also help students develop greater technological efficacy. Not only will it help increase self-confidence and eliminate fear of computerized devices, but it will also make learners more flexible and able to adapt to changes in the workplace.
5. Easier to Digest.
M-Learning allows learners to deal with new information one at a time. This allows for better retention of new material and prevents feelings of frustration. They can take the time needed to master each concept before moving on.
What are the concerns about M-Learning?
While the praise seems to outweigh the criticism, there are some concerns raised by experts in the field.
• Expenditure. Mobile devices don’t come cheap. School boards may find it impossible to obtain the funds needed to equip classrooms with the necessary tools for M-Learning. Many parents also can’t come to the table to cover these costs either.
• Lost. Due to the portable nature of mobile devices, they can easily be lost or stolen. This not only results in increased costs, but also means that student data can fall into the wrong hands.
• Logistics. M-Learning often involves downloading educational material – and depending on the internet service available, this download can be very time consuming. In addition, this device uses a battery that needs to be recharged frequently. And there will inevitably be times when the internet goes down or cell service becomes unavailable.
Maybe there will come a day when the heat in class is a thing of the past. Thanks to M-Learning, there is finally a better way.
What do you think about M-Learning? Why do you feel that way?