Mobile Learning (m-Learning): University use of cell phones, iPhones, and other devices in the quest to improve student learning
The increasingly competitive marketplace has driven more adults to seek higher education than ever before. Many adults are also returning to school to improve their base of knowledge, given the degree to which technology has altered the needs of the modern workplace. However, because of funding problems, many adults are returning to school part-time, while they work full-time. The availability of distance education makes this possible, and new technologies such as mobile phones enable students to be constantly connected to their virtual campuses. The educational industry is still evolving, in terms of the way it structures its educational materials, to make effective use of mobile technology in the context of on-site and offsite classrooms.
However, the use of mobile phones is not exclusive to distance learning. Younger students who have grown up with cellphones in their hands are demanding that the phones that have become a ubiquitous part of their lives are integrated into their classroom experiences. Students are asking more of their institutions and more of their mobile phones simultaneously. Being able to execute complex mathematical applications on mobile devices, or practice music electronically are some examples of how mobile technology can enhance a student’s experience. According to the 2009 Horizon Report, mobile versions of medical resources for students such as encyclopedias and multimedia applications like Columbia University’s Mapping the African-American Past (MAAP) website are some of the examples of the ways students are using mobile technology to enhance their learning experience.
Of course, one of the most obvious ways mobile phones can be used to connect students on campus is to enhance student safety, such as identifying the campus of immediate dangers. The tragedy at Virginia Tech motivated many other campuses, particularly campuses with frequent security concerns like the urban local of NYU, to mandate that all students have cell phones on which they can be contacted to receive critical warnings and security updates.
Mobile phones can also be used to create ‘experiential’ classes: “Images can be captured and uploaded to the Web through mobile weblogs (moblogs)â€¦a team from Umea University in Sweden moblogged Jokkmokk’s 399th Annual Sami Winter Market. Students applied their academic learning about the Sami to the real world, interviewing participants, conducting follow-up digital research on the fly, and uploading and expanding on commentary online” (Alexander 2004). The classroom spilled out conference, and all students in the class participated simultaneously, in a way they could not, had they traveled through the conference as a group or reported back to the classroom as individuals.
m-Learning thus has several demonstrable benefits. The first is its ease of access, where updated information and alerts can be sent immediately. It also offers options to pace a student’s study so it is compatible with the student’s other lifestyle demands. A student can learn while on the commuter train as well as in his or her bedroom or the library. m-Learning offers advantages for the teacher, as he or she can include evaluation and feedback instruments in the m-Learning components. Finally, it offers an access of online repositories. “The online materials accessed through m-Learning system offers a place for the lecturers and students to interact frequently. Learners have access to a stored repository of knowledge and information like the digital course materials and a host of other online digital libraries for assignments and exams” (Jacob & Isaac, 2007, p.19).
Alexander, Bryan. (2004, September/October). Going nomadic: Mobile learning in higher education. EDUCAUSE Review. 39. 5-28 — 35. Retrieved January 19, 2010 at http://www.educause.edu/EDUCAUSE+Review/EDUCAUSEReviewMagazineVolume39/GoingNomadicMobileLearninginHi/157921
The 2009 Horizon Report. (2009). Retrieved January 19, 2010 at http://www.nmc.org/pdf/2009-Horizon-Report.pdf, pages 1-10.
Jacob, Seibu Mary & Biju Issac. (2007, June). Mobile learning culture and effects in higher
Education. IEEE Multidisciplinary Engineering Education Magazine. 2.2: 19-21
Retrieved January 19, 2010 at http://ewh.ieee.org/soc/e/sac/meem/public/old_issue/vol02iss02/MEEM020204.pdf
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