The educational world does not stand still. Teachers should come up with new instructional strategies to satisfy learners' needs and prepare new generations for life in the modern world. One of such strategies is m-learning. This term refers to all educational processes involving using mobile platforms (video and audio players, websites, messaging services) and devices (laptops, tablets, mobile phones) which provide all-round accessibility, allow teachers and students to collaborate comfortably and build individualized pathways.
In this article, experts from Pro-Papers have provided the broad definition of m-learning including its history, the key advantages and disadvantages.
The Growth of Mobile Learning in Education
In one form or another, m-learning existed yet in the early 2000s. As technology gained an important role in human life, the inevitability of adopting mobile technologies in the classroom became obvious. This is a consequence of revolution sparked by PCs which have provided new opportunities to teachers and learners.
Over some time, portable and compact devices gained popularity, which allowed people to study anywhere, anytime, at their own pace. Now, it is quite possible to read e-books in public transport, listen to audiobooks when walking in a park, watch instructional videos on a beach, study presentations in a country house, take quizzes while waiting in a queue, participate in online open courses, write custom term paper from anywhere and interact with peers from foreign countries. Information sources are wide open for everyone who wants to gain knowledge.
The Advantages of Mobile Learning
Learners are not limited by dull lecture halls and strict educational plans. Everyone can tread one's own path to academic success. This approach is beneficial for both teachers and students. Young people can enter virtual classrooms whenever convenient, download course materials, and take tests. For their part, educators may share information, consult learners on the go to help them overcome challenges, control test taking, and inform parents about their children's academic performance.
M-learning expands the borders of a physical school with chalk blackboards and desks standing in rows. There is no specific schedule and place. Everyone may choose hours and learning space which suit one best, engage in learning voluntarily and not when strict observers command one to do it, undertake an active role in the educational process rather than absorb information passively and wait until boring lectures come to an end.
Many modern recruiters are Millennials - people who were growing up in parallel with technology. These specialists are used to solving labor and everyday tasks with the help of modern devices, software, and media platforms, want their employees to be tech-savvy and do the same.
Current school and university graduates should be digital natives to succeed in the labor market and find a common language with business owners. M-learning prepares students for the future, provides the introduction to the tech world, reflects the way how Millennials think and act, develops a digital-first mindset and forward-thinking. Young people become enthusiastic about innovations, adapt to changes much better than Luddites who perceive technology with prejudice.
Dynamic Teaching Methodologies
Far not all students like to read textbooks and easily understand abstract concepts. Visual and audial learners are infringed in a traditional classroom. M-learning may become a good solution for them. It involves the use of video, audio, images, and other content with vivid, rich graphics. Such course materials are engaging and dynamic, attract students' attention and keep them focused, allow to cover large information volumes in short periods of time.
Mobile technologies are friendly to modern educational methodologies, such as experiential learning. Teachers should greet progress, test fresh and original ideas instead of sticking to outdated classical strategies.
Some mobile apps analyze users' behavior, learning style, talents, and preferences, create individualized algorithms helping each person to reach one's full potential, offer ways to develop weak skills and eliminate knowledge gaps. Educators are not obliged to spend time communicating one-on-one with each learner and compiling personalized academic plans because this may well be done by artificial intelligence.
This approach is much more effective than educating robots with the same abilities and skills or dividing students into A-F groups which are way too broad. Each learner is a unique personality requiring an educational strategy tailored to one's character traits and thinking patterns. Flexibility makes m-learning a great tool for creating individualized pathways.
The Disadvantages of Mobile Learning
Old Skills Die Out
Of course, it would be not fair to list the pros of m-learning and overlook its cons. Each approach has some drawbacks, no matter how good it is. First of all, students do not develop skills which are not connected with technology. Not all things may be created by pressing a button on a sensor screen. The society needs specialists excelling in arts and crafts, such as woodworking and pottery. Even though many goods are created by machines at plants, handmade is still in high demand, which increases the value of craftsmen on the labor market.
Dependence on Tech Tools
Smartphones are very helpful but not perfect. They may break and freeze thus disrupting the educational process. In addition, not all schools and families can allocate sums necessary for buying expensive gadgets from their budgets. Students having only push-button phones would be in a disadvantaged position.
It is easy to forget that a person has to learn when one holds a mobile phone in hands. Educational apps coexist with entertaining games and social media distracting learners' attention. Constant notifications from instant messengers, funny YouTube videos, and invitations to play do not allow young people to focus on their academic responsibilities.
Harm to Health
Doctors claim that screen time should be reduced. It is harmful to vision and posture to spend much time in front of computers, TVs, mobile phones, and tablets. But m-learning, on the contrary, increases screen time. This approach may create fertile soil for bad habits and addiction, especially for juniors who have poorly developed self-discipline. Therefore, m-learning strategies should be used in moderation, keeping in mind students' health.