The widespread adoption of mobile devices and apps in our daily lives paved the way to unprecedented ease of access to information, knowledge and expertise. No longer is your access to knowhow and expert knowledge limited to any stringent institutional curriculum. Moreover, with the increasing range of device functionality the scope of mobile learning became wider and diverse.
Traditional computing is rapidly being replaced by mobile computing and consequently elearning is evolving from desktop apps to mobile apps. Faster internet, inclusive device capacity to integrate functionalists in the learning process, adaptive learning environment with user friendly UI and UX; all these contributed to the onset of mobile learning, the emerging horizon of education.
Mobile learning, in the span of a few years, became a formidable mode of education in comparison to traditional desktop based elearning modules.
Several factors contributed to this growth:-
- including the demand for real time engagement of learners over remote devices,
- popularity of social sharing among learners,
- mobile productivity apps helping to cope up with learning demands and unconventional learning through game and fun apps getting popular.
Now a kindergarten child can learn letters through a mobile game or a college kid can learn the basics of anatomy through a pictorial quiz app.
Where does mobile learning stand now?
Mobile devices for the majority of people still serve the purpose of communication, general web access and entertainment. Still, taking mobile devices as a medium of serious learning is unthinkable to the majority of users. Even when they use some mobile apps that serve learning purposes to a certain extent, the learning that takes place is not taken as a serious objective of the app.
On the other hand, productivity apps are continuing to emerge as one of the most popular app niches and they are helping learners to organize, save, deliver and optimize learning content in more ways than one. An increasing number of schools and educational institutions are utilizing these apps to increase their student’s productivity.
Several elearning modules of distant learning curriculums are becoming available on mobile devices paving the way to mobile learning. But until now learning through native mobile apps or mobile web is far from taking the center stage in elearning.
Innovative scopes of mobile learning
It is needless to say that with the wide adoption of mobile devices in every sphere of life, that learning and access to a variety of information has become common rather than being restricted to any stagnant curriculum or coursework. Moreover, mobile learning with its adaptive learning environment, made it possible to learn more contextually.
Let us have a look at various innovative aspects of mobile learning.
- Learning contextually: With a mobile device in your hand, you can access information more contextually rather than as a specific task. For instance, a student of medicine can access a comprehensive drug guide through a dedicated app in his mobile whenever he requires during classes, practice or laboratory experiments. A student of comparative literature or journalism can access the real time translation functionality or translation app to translate a word or term or text in his preferred language, whenever and wherever he requires. Mobile learning is more about accessing information or solutions when and where you require it most.
- Learning through augmented reality: Now with the onset of wearable tech and internet of things, learning has crossed all limits. The augmented reality with its high tech maneuvers is offering you greater access to information and learning content. For example, wearing a pair of Google Glass you can just use voice command to go through an e-book or search the web, when your limbs and physical presence is occupied with something else.
- Sharing learning resources and content: Real time sharing of learned content through social media or other platforms helped to loosen all boundaries and make learning more inclusive, participatory and engaging in the true sense of these terms. The learning is equally global and local with the open accessibility and sharing of learning resources and content among learners, professionals, interest groups and other connected people.
Broadening horizon of mobile learning
There are several emerging trends and signs from which we can assess how far and wide the horizon of mobile learning is expanding. With the rapid intrusion of mobile devices every workplace is now embracing BYOD policy and non-local web based learning is continuing to replace training room modules in workplaces around the globe.
- Bring Your Own Device (BYOD): Already a majority of the top enterprises have embraced a comprehensive BYOD policy to address the issue of using mobile devices in the workplace. Employee owned mobile devices are increasingly becoming integrated in the workplace IT infrastructure with appropriate security arrangements. With this flexible BYOD approach learning and skill training for workforce became a moving affair facilitating higher productivity and development of expertise.
- Mobile learning replacing long indoor training sessions: Years passed since elearning was introduced to replace long indoor training sessions and since then a wide array of training maneuvers have been devised to replace grueling and lengthy training sessions. With the rapid adoption of mobile devices and BYOD policy the importance of elearning was further stressed and mobile learning became the next viable option to drive productivity offering training to develop skill set and expertise.
- Fun and gaming approach to learning through mobile devices: For children and minors certain mobile apps incorporated a fun approach to education. Now, there is a wide range of part-gaming part-educational apps that make children learn fast. From fun filled word puzzles to quiz to gaming apps with alphabetical letters to funny apps to learn simple math, your mobile device can be the starting point for a responsive fun way of learning for your children.
Technological innovation and user growth will be the driving force
Already from the unprecedented growth story of mobile devices we can assess how far and wide mobile apps are going to penetrate in every single aspect of our life. Technological value addition in devices and apps will impact hugely on mobile learning as well. Moreover, the growth of mobile users and expanding horizon of ultra smart devices would further be the driving force behind mobile learning.
- More affordable and user optimized technology will make more people and organizations embrace mobile learning.
- The storage capacity, speed and performance of devices will make them more learner-friendly.
- Language and culture specific barriers will no longer be constraints as auto translation and localization features will be stronger and more accessible.
- Wide adoption of cloud computing will make sharing easier, faster and richer without device dependence.
- Limitation corresponding to screen size will be a matter of past.
- Social sharing will be more widespread than ever.
Key advantages of mobile learning
Considering all, mobile learning has the revolutionary potential of engaging learners and tutors in an unprecedented way offering a flexible learning environment. The most important aspect of mobile learning is the greater engagement of learners and wider accessibility of learning content. Let us have a quick look at the key advantages of mobile learning.
- The access to education will be wider and bereft of constraints.
- Education will not be device specific and least dependent on network accessibility.
- Learning on the go will help reduce dropouts.
- Faster and richer development of skill set and expertise.
- More productive and contextual education will save huge non-potential time spent in classrooms and training rooms.
Situation and technology is already ripe enough for adopting mobile learning among professionals. But, to make it the medium of mass education still the social apparatus and technological framework remains to be developed.
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