Mobile Learning: Is Mobile Learning the Future of Education?

Take a quick look around and you’ll probably see either a mobile phone or a personal mobile device in its many iterations (e.g. audio player, video player). No goes out much without a cellphone, and it’s quite ancient to even bring your netbook all the time. It’s truly a mobile world out there, a changing landscape that made the world a lot more personal than before.

This has definitely spilled over even in the formal world of education. We already know that online learning has made it possible to study popular online programs, finish high school, and even learn new trades, all at the convenience of our own homes. Now there’s an emerging trend that may even change online learning as we know it – Mobile Learning or mLearning is now the latest trend.

What is Mobile Learning?

A quick trip to Wikipedia shows us that mLearning focuses on learning contexts that rely on mobile devices to deliver educational content. The emphasis is placed on portability and mobility, that is, how easily an individual could learn without being limited by geographical location. Mobile learning also implies a personalization of content, given the intimacy borne of personal mobile devices. For now, mLearning serves as an adjunct to traditional brick-and-mortar education and as a supplement to online learning.

How does Mobile Learning work?

The first thing we have to consider is how content could be used in a portable device. Since mLearning is just about educational content on a mobile device, it’s easy to see why this is the primary concern. Good thing many avenues for this type of learning can be found in many instances. For example, if we’re talking about mobile phones the most universal application is the use of SMS (short message service) to deliver small bites of content. The educational program itself wouldn’t be long in duration and usually tackle informal subjects or topics that interest the casual learner. For example, one university we know offers an mLearning program with short modules on Basic English and Lifestyle topics.

Other mLearning offerings utilize media devices that are synchronized to online content. In this case, though the portable device is not necessarily connected wirelessly, periodic downloading of content can still be done in relation to an mLearning program. This means that devices such as the iPod Touch, or the classic iPod are still useful tools for mobile learning. Even students enrolled in traditional schools utilize these devices, surprisingly not only to listen to music, but to be updated with educational content.

mLearning and the Internet

Nowadays we already have mobile phones that have direct access to the Internet, making it almost similar to basic online education. You could post in online forums, check your email, update your professor, download course content, view videos, listen to podcasts and do a myriad other things offered online. Universities have even started offering their lectures and other content free for anyone to read and download, so even formal education in mLearning is possible. Of course, it’s still at its infancy and many things need to be ironed out. But who knows what the future brings?

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