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Mobile Learning



I use my iPhone everyday and everywhere. I have tons of apps for every task that I can think of; for work, home and personal tasks. There has never been a time when what I need is more than a click away regardless of where I am: in a restaurant, in the car, in a store, on campus. I wonder, however, are students and educators truly capitalizing on mobile learning. Although students come to class with smartphones everyday, are they using them to truly engage in learning content. Probably not. I think many people believe that mobile learning is the "fast food of learning". Quick. Accessible. Easily prepared. No substance (sometimes).


However, the question we must ask ourselves is: "Does it really matter?" I don't think it does. Engagement and learning speak for themselves. Educators who want to dive into the world of mobile learning must always ensure that each learning activity has an authentic goal and that they emphasize to students that mobile activities are apart of the balanced diet of deep learning. The question should always be: 'What are the objectives to be met and can a mobile learning initiative help achieve those objectives?'. If the answer is yes, then educators must choose the best method of delivery. Sometimes that may be classroom based such as mobile polling or elearning which may be designed to be accessed on a mobile device such as an ebook, iTunesU course, Sway presentation or video tutorial. It's the flexibility to tailor it 's use appropriately that's really exciting. Mobile learning is a growing and needed part of student's lives. 4 out of 5 students have a mobile device. They may not have a smartphone but they have a mobile device.



Mobile learning is revolutionizing education and it's here to stay. With many devices like iPads and Kindles, students can use the device as a phone or a mini tablet which means they can take notes, access course and lecture recordings, complete quizzes and tests and more!



We must remember that our ultimate goal is to prepare students for the world of work; to ensure they become proficient at 21st century skills which includes information, media and technology skills. Partnership for 21st Century Skills state that, "People in the 21st century live in a technology and media-suffused environment, marked by various characteristics, including: 1) access to an abundance of information, 2) rapid changes in technology tools, and 3) the ability to collaborate and make individual contributions on an unprecedented scale. To be effective in the 21st century, citizens and workers must be able to exhibit a range of functional and critical thinking skills related to information, media and technology."



If students are using mobile devices to their full capabilities then they can explore and create anything, everything, anywhere ...I mean it's amazing how expansive the possibilities are!


Many are concerned with best practices of mobile learning. I do not have a definitive answer for that and as teachers and students explore it more, they will find what works. But here is what I do know:


Mobile learning provides opportunities for students to create products and collaborate with others by sharing innovative ideas and solutions to problems. For example, a student could use their mobile device to shoot, edit and upload a video of social injustice; share it to a social media site; and then use an app like OneNote to sketch out/map out a plan for solving the problem. In addition, it can be tailored to fit all student's needs and change learning from passive to active/interactive. Mobile learning allows for students and teachers to be flexible in how they access and deliver content and knowledge.


So what is mobile learning exactly?


"M-learning is any form of electronically delivered learning material with an emphasis on internet based technologies. For instance digital media players, iPods, MP3 Players, Smartphones, PDAs, palm pilots, pocket PCs, notebook and Tablets. M-learning is aimed at developing learning content that integrates with mobile applications and provides learning. It allows greater degree of access to learning resources."


So where do we go from here? And what do we need to know now that information is so close at hand? Do we need to remember anything? Can we teach a doctor's understanding of anatomy by iDevice? What about teaching a plumber how to lay pipes? I am not saying that mobile learning is the only way; but it is one tool to use to educate learners.





By Tiffany Thompson. Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

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