The most exciting educational development in recent years is the availability of new technologies to help people learn. It is now expected that students will have access to computers in school, and this gives them access to an incredible number of resources. The most recent revolution in this new educational technology is m-learning.
m-learning (mobile learning) is a resource for learning that involves using mobile devices. This technology allows students to access educational content whenever and wherever they need it. It also means that this material will be available in innovative and fun formats. m-learning is possible on many devices including: tablets, smartphones, laptops, MP3 players, gaming devices, and eReader devices such as Kindle. Mobile learning is considered a supplement to regular instruction, and it can be used in a classroom environment.
Differences between e-Learning and m-Learning
e-learning (electronic learning) is where students use a computer to help them learn. It can include everything from academic degrees to basic ‘how-to’ guides. m-learning could be considered a type of e-learning, but it differs due to the way the learning material is presented. Mobile learning will usually just involve nuggets of information rather than full-courses. The limitations of the mobile devices (for example, the screen size) mean that the information will need to be presented in a certain way. There also tends to be far more emphasis on fun with m-learning. This is because users will tend to only engage with the content for a brief period, so they need to be able to focus quickly – this is easier with fun material.
How Do Students Benefit from m-Learning?
It has been suggested that m-learning can benefit students in a number of ways including:
It can mean that people can rapidly gain an understanding of key information.
There is evidence to suggest that this engaging style of learning leads to improved retention of information.
It can be a cost-effective way of helping people to learn.
It can be far more interactive than traditional e-learning – for example, live chat with instructors or other learners.
Students find it a convenient way to learn because they can access the information wherever they happen to be.
It means that students can learn during periods that would normally be considered ‘dead time’ – for example, travelling to class.
It empowers people to take charge of their own learning experience.
Many of the m-learning apps will have a tracking system so that students can assess their own progress.
It means that content can be provided in easy-to-digest chunks.
The technology means that information can be provided in many different formats, and this means that there will almost certainly be something to suit the individual’s learning style.
It can be an excellent resource for preparing students for exams because they it can simulate the experience in the form of mock tests with instant feedback.
The Impact of m-Learning on Students
Mobile learning is popular with students, and it encourages them to continue studying outside of the classroom. The technology means that it is convenient to study almost anywhere and at any time of the day. This method of acquiring new information also tends to involve fun activities, and this encourages students to make use of this resource.
One of the most promising aspects of mobile learning is that it encourages people who struggle with traditional forms of instruction to begin studying new subjects. These people will enjoy a confidence-boost when they master some new material, and this can encourage them to study even further. People who previously had no interest in any type of formal further education are finding that they too can benefit from gaining new skills and expertise.
The Future of m-Learning
The benefits of m-learning, and the positive impact it is having on students, means that this technology will almost certainly be used more in the future in educational settings. This will be a powerful resource for teachers because they will be better able to cater for different learning styles.