By Priyameet Kaur- Department of Management Studies and Research Centre CMRIT, Bangalore
As iPhones, BlackBerrys, iPads and other devices grow in number, learning is becoming more mobile and easier for students. Mobile learning technologies offer teachers and students a more flexible approach to learning.
Computer labs are great, but do your students use technology in the classroom, in the school garden, in the study hall, in the gym, and on field trips? With mobile learning devices, you can do all this, and more. More and more schools are moving towards mobile learning in the classroom as a way to take advantage of a new wave of electronic devices that offer portability and ease of use on a budget.
Net books, cell phones, iPods, e-readers and even palmtop computers are increasingly becoming the tools of choice for today's educators, and it is easy to use. Studies like these help underline the academic potential that mobile learning devices can have to enrich the learning process for students. They are versatile, motivating, and active learning tools.
The education system we work in is not always known for its speed at latching on to new ideas and methodologies, but with mobile learning it is catching up-quickly. Students with autism spectrum disorders and others who may have difficulty speaking, can use the application library of symbols and text-to-speech conversion to communicate easily and naturally with others.
This type of assistive application helps broaden student’s horizons both in and out of the classroom. They are portable, easy to update, and cost-effective, and can be read on netbooks, e-readers, laptops, and more. "It provides the potential to empower and uplift students in their learning," Mobile learning is an exciting opportunity for educators, but in many ways we are just scratching the surface of all that can be achieved with it.
With proper training, and time to explore these high-tech gadgets, teachers will soon be able make rapid strides with them, and be able to support and instruct the use of such devices in the classroom on a regular basis. Now is the time to act. Our digital natives are counting on us.
Mobile learning can revolutionize education:
*Continuous learning: Up until now, most people relegated “education” to a finite time in their lives entering school at around five years old and attending school institutions all the way to university.
Education is getting increasingly interspersed with our daily activities. On our phones, tablets, and PCs, we download and digest life or work-related articles with instructions on how to fix our appliances or how to use a new professional software program. Continuous learning will simply be a given for the generations of today’s youngsters who are often literally born within reach of a connected personal device.
*Breaking Gender Boundaries, Reducing Physical Burdens: In parts of the globe where, because of centuries of cultural practices, young women may still not be allowed to access a formal education, mobile learning promises to be able to put girls and women of all ages in contact with high-quality education privately and on their own time.
Along similar lines mobile learning also helps bring educational material within the reach of people with extreme disabilities, who may not be physically able to get to a classroom or campus on a regular basis. In both of these cases, new freedoms can be exposed. As a result, these groups can take control of their educational and professional destinies.
* New opportunities for traditional educational institutions: The mobile learning phenomenon will not necessarily compete with well-established schools but actually complement and extend their current offerings. Traditional institutions could also help mobile learning solutions scale quickly by leveraging their vast and established networks of students, faculty, and alumni.
*A revolution leading to customized education: The key for successfully channeling the m mobile learning revolution will not simply be about digitizing current educational systems.
The real appeal will be allowing people to choose their own paths, leverage their talents, and follow their passions and callings. Mobile learning has much business potential, but the most exciting and rewarding aspect of these solutions is that students of any age or background might have the chance to pursue knowledge that is meaningful, relevant, and realistic to achieve in their own lives.
Using smart phones and tablet computers, students have easy access to knowledge. They use their devices as supportive educational tools. They now have access to diagrams, articles, essays and other academic information which can improve student performance in the classroom.
Other than having access to educational tools online using their smart phones and tablet computers, students now have access to industry experts. Students can read reviews and blogs by field experts. They can also follow conferences and “webinars” (online seminars). They also now have a chance to interact with professionals even from their homes or classrooms. Using gadgets, they can overcome distance and expenses too.
Cost: Cost is one great disadvantage of mobile learning. How can students be part of mobile learning if they do not have a mobile device? Moreover, technology changes very fast. Students have to upgrade devices frequently. Other than the device, there are monthly data charges from mobile providers, so downloading large files not only takes time but also costs a lot.
Size of Device: The size of the gadget is also a disadvantage. It is so small that they can be lost or stolen easily. Moreover, the screen is just too small and it can strain the eyes of those who use it for a long period of time. Also, on a screen so small, only a small amount of information can be displayed.
Battery Life: Most gadgets only have about 2 to 4 hours of productivity. Once the battery runs out, the student will have to plug it in for recharging. Mobile learning is then no longer mobile.
"To maximize effectiveness, education in the 21st century has to be active, engaging, and customized. Students must have universal access to mobile technologies that will enable critical thinking, differentiation, and problem solving. It is belief that the technology in meets these needs.”
Courtesy: Deccan Herald, April 25, 2013