What is M-Learning? M-learning or mobile learning is defined as learning across multiple contexts, through social and content interactions, using personal electronic devices. A form of distance education, m-learners use mobile device educational technology at their time convenience. The key aspect of mobile learning is using portable computing devices (such as iPads, laptops, table PC’s, PDA’s and smart phones) to extend to spaces beyond the traditional classroom. Teachers access the wireless networks in schools to enable mobility and mobile learning; allowing teaching and learning to extend to spaces beyond the traditional classroom.
Deborah McLaughlin, Librarian for Harbor Creek School District in Pennsylvania, commented: “Big Universe has helped our library to take the digital step outside our school walls. Not only has it expanded our collection, but it has enhanced our literacy curriculum. Our students love to read, write and share, especially on their own mobile devices…”
Why is M-Learning a smart strategy? First, teachers can customize learning experiences, and provide students with more personalized learning experiences than a general classroom course. Second, mobile learning offers the flexibility for students to continue learning offline. If students are in a place where they cannot access the internet, they can still reference important materials that they have already downloaded on their phones or tablets. More importantly, because of the on-the-go nature of M-Learning, lessons are short are manageable, most teachers “content chunk” in their instructional design, or breaking up content into shorter, bite-size pieces that are easier to remember.
Using photos, for example, from mobile devices is helpful in the classroom because teachers can use the pictures on their phones to quickly expand on a learning concept with their students, and talk about what’s in the picture. More importantly, teachers have found discussions using photos to be far more motivating than spending time looking through a course book. Pictures from textbooks, are somewhat removed; however, images through Google can be accessed much quicker, keeping students motivated and engaged in the curriculum. Additionally, teachers encourage valuable communication amongst classmates in both small and whole group discussions.
Audio Recordings Audio recording APPS for IPADS such as AudioBoo, an application for recording and sharing your voice with the world is easily downloaded for free. Students can create up to three (3) minutes of audio and post that to their writing, for example. Another APP is iTalk Recorder that is a full-featured recording app with a streamlined and intuitive user interface. Mobile Podcaster, another APP, can be used for daily podcasts, or simply to add audio to a blog. iPadio, allows for audio broadcasts, record, play back, and high quality audio for up to sixty (60) minutes in length. Similarly, Audio Note records notes and audio synced to the best note-taking app, combining the functionality of a notepad and voice recorder to create a powerful tool that saves time and improves the quality of notes!
APPS Smartphone and mobile technologies will play a huge role in today’s classroom, and there are apps that help teachers become organized and keep students learning. Some of the most popular apps used are:
- Dropbox: Thanks to the magic and wonder of cloud computing, teachers on the go can access their student files from other devices they have connected to their personal networks, meaning they never leave an important digital document at home!
- Documents To Go: Available for nearly all smartphones and PDA platforms, Documents To Go offers up the full suite of Microsoft Office programs, and saving a file on one device makes changes to all connected documents.
- Lab Guru: iPad-owning science teachers sign up for the popular Lab Guru to draw up experiments and tote them into the field or onto the counter for note taking and sharing.
- Evernote: Sort digital files into scrapbooks and make sure all necessary class materials sit in the proper place with one of the mobile world’s most lauded organization applications of all time.
- TED: Teachers love using the intelligent, open source lectures available through TEC to supplement their classroom lessons.
In short, mobile learning is a smart strategy. In 21st century learning, devices have become an essential part of everyday life for both teachers and their learners. Schools permit students to bring their devices to school, so having a device readily available in their pockets, and in the classroom, gives instructors and learners increased flexibility and new opportunities for interaction.
Mobile learning can have an impact anywhere in the world. Most of the population has access to a mobile phone, which promotes 21st century learning in the world.