M-learning in education is on the rise and shows just how far the tech has come to be able to facilitate it, and with good reason. One of the main advantages of mobile learning is accessibility, which is bringing much of the joy back to learning and training for some students. The ability to learn from anywhere on a mobile device can allow you to create the perfect learning environment, whether that’s a crowded café or calm library, it appeals to all.
This also leads to minimal learning disruption because you can pick it up and put it down whenever it suits you, rather than having to have your laptop with you or wait to get back to a desktop. If you have a spare 10 minutes before the train arrives, you can fit in a small element or video as well as doing short training exercises during your lunch break, keeping it engaging and ultimately getting you closer to the end learning goal. Flexibility also plays a key role because whether it’s a tablet or smartphone, different preferences and screen sizes suit different people. So being able to have adjustable content means mLearning is the new buzzword for education.
Avoid desktops altogether by creating exclusive content that’s directly for mobile. This could be a downloadable app to integrate gamification into the module or something simple like audio snippets and podcasts so that students can take the content on the move. Mobiles and tablets are the preferred method of communicating and students are more likely to have their smartphones to hand out of hours than setting up a computer or laptop. So you can leverage the need to be mobile into motivating employees to learn on the go.
Remember to keep content interesting and focus on mobile accessible options like quizzes, polls or flashcards that are easier to manage on a smaller screen and can be adapted well to suit most content types.
Performance and Functionality
Content needs to adapt to mobile screens and understanding that not everything fits well and may need to be adapted is key. For example, pages of text don’t translate well and longer images like infographics could be cut off making them difficult to read. It’s important that information retention is considered by ensuring that formatting integrates multimedia and breaks up long segments into smaller, easier chunks to manage.
From a usability standpoint, it’s also important to ensure that loading times are not affected and kept to a minimum, images aren’t cut off due to screen size and videos are rotatable so they can be enlarged to fit a smaller device’s screen. These are all performance elements that can keep mobile learning interesting and working well with the users, keeping them motivated.
Smartphones are generally peoples’ preferred method of contact now which means you’ll need to offer support to back up the mlearning platform. This could be in the form of chatbots or coaching that is tailor made to work between apps like messenger to get the same assistance and training that you would get on a desktop.
Remember it’s worth taking the time to create mobile-only content that is well supported and engaging because the benefits of mobile learning far outweigh the effort that goes into creating it.
It’s ironic. For the last fifteen years or so, teachers have had to fight against a rising tide of mobile phone use in the classroom. And now, we have to undo those last fifteen years of demanding and pleading for students not to use their phones, to now telling them that phones are actually key to their educational development!
So what’s behind this change?
Mobile technology can boost achievement generally- if used correctly
Mobile learning in education is becoming more and more popular. And study after study is indicating that mobile apps built for education can boost attainment at school. How? By making learning fun. We never said that m-learning was inspired by a revolutionary idea!
For example, a study by the U.S. Department of Education found that children who used a PBS Kids vocabulary app improved their vocabulary by up to 31%. That was on the basis of the children wanting to use the app every day for two weeks, which isn’t an outlandish amount of screen time for modern kids!
So the parent buys a phone for their child. They also download some educational apps. Then they let the kids run free. Where do teachers fit in?
Unguided learning isn’t learning at all
It isn’t easy to separate the younger generation from their smartphone technology. Carvalho and Ferreira’s study, Mobile devices in school, in teaching / the learning process- the roadmap points out how mobile technology is so firmly embedded in the lives of young people today, that they practically expect it to be a part of their education, too. Hence why m-learning in education is turning into the next big thing.
Students looking up and referencing facts on their own is one of the many benefits that mobile technology has given to pedagogy. But how does the student know what to search for? And how does the student know what’s sound information, and what are sound analyses, and what aren’t? The importance of mobile learning only stretches as far as there are teachers to guide students. And that’s because unguided learning is simply wasted time.
Teachers inspire learning, technology teaches facts
Quick reference to factual information is one of the central benefits of mobile devices in education. Mobile learning in education is defined by what can easily be broken down into factual information- hence why technology is best used in subjects like maths, and not English literature. But m-learning isn’t confined to what computers can understand, but how we get technology to work for us.
Carvalho and Ferreira’s study accurately describes the many benefits of m-learning in education: mobile devices are easily usable, portable, versatile, adaptable and customizable. But most of all, they help students, teachers and parents to overcome the physical boundaries of the classroom and to learn anywhere, at any time.
You might then ask what teachers actually bring to the table. It’s all about motivation. Like we’ve already claimed, unguided learning is often wasted time- and what teachers do best is to inspire a positive attitude towards learning. Without that, students don’t want to learn. With that, and with m-learning, students want to learn, and can learn wherever they are.