Mobile learning, also known as M-Learning, is a new way to access learning content using mobile devices. It is possible to learn when and where you want, as long as you have a modern mobile device connected to the Internet. Mobile learning, also known as M-Learning, is defined as the need and ability to learn through virtual means, such as personal electronic devices, social interactions, and content. Devices that can be used for M-Learning include smartphones, tablets, laptops, and digital laptops. It focuses on the freedom of movement of the students and their interaction with technology. In this case, simplifying learning through the use of mobile tools is what constitutes this informal learning configuration.
History of M-Learning
Alan Kay is the name behind the introduction of the M-Learning concept in the 1970s. He entered the Xerox Corporation Palo Alto Research Center and partnered with a few other workers to bring the Dynabook to life. This was a useful personal computer that it was intended to teach children through an enhanced digital approach. However, this device failed to impress due to the lack of technological support at the time. It was not until 1994 that IBM Simon, the first smartphone, was introduced by Mitsubishi Electric Corp. This device was quite similar to Dynabook. Promoted as a useful personal communicator, this smartphone heralded an absolutely new era during which hundreds of similar devices were introduced by various manufacturers. From that moment on, no one stopped producing "smart phones". To simplify the introduction to M-Learning, it has been divided into three phases. These include:
This phase revolves around the use of mobile devices, such as smartphones, tablets, and laptops. Here, educators work to plan lessons that can be easily delivered and accessed through digital devices. Even when they can't work with all kinds of devices, they can focus on at least one device with specialized applications that support M-Learning. They must stand out and also communicate to the students.
Phase 2 focuses on learning in different settings than a typical classroom. This can include things like excursions, visits to museums and places alike. Today, digital devices support a strong Internet connection, and this is what educators can take advantage of during those visits to communicate with their students without using teaching materials such as whiteboards or even desktop computers.
The third and final phase focuses on student mobility. Today, M-Learning has become a globalized learning approach. It has gained popularity in regions around the world, including Asia, Europe, Australia, Africa, New Zealand, North America, and Scandinavia, which have already made notable achievements in this area.
M-Learning in corporate education
It is no secret that more and more people access the Internet from a smartphone. Desktop and laptop computers are still popular, and instead of choosing a single device, it has become the norm to own multiple devices and use them for different activities. Mobile learning offers the opportunity to reach employees who are always on the go or working remotely. In the corporate training sector, mobile learning offers the opportunity to reach employees who are always on the go, who work remotely or who want to do their training outside of working hours and therefore do not use your desktop computers.
Uses of mobile learning in education
Creation of mobile learning materials
The easiest way to educate and learn through mobile learning is through the development of learning materials / content. These can be from videos and audios to texts and infographics. Students can receive assignments to complete after studying the materials. This approach to online education is comparatively less interactive, but allows users to take enough time to understand what is shared, unlike highly interactive sessions.
Interaction during lessons
For those educators and students who prefer interactive learning, mobile devices are the best option. This type of learning encourages students to ask questions and discuss other relevant topics in online discussion forums. This activity can also be the other way around, where educators ask questions about the lesson and students answer them using their devices or communicating in a predefined online forum. M-learnig is especially recommended when coaches teach large numbers of students. Students can even be asked to complete surveys after lessons so that educators can get quick feedback in addition to being able to analyze how effective their lessons are.
Synchronous learning is the exact opposite of asynchronous learning. In such an environment, students and teachers can communicate in real time. This approach is preferable when feedback and interaction are important to teachers and students. Both real-time feedback and real-time interaction with students have a major impact on overall learning.
Examples of mobile learning in corporate education
Sharing learning content for mobile consumption
This is the most common way to use mobile learning. After creating your learning material (mainly using a desktop computer), you can share it with your participants so that they can learn using their mobile devices, on their own time. It is easy to share the material by email or simply by sharing the link via text message, for example. This mobile learning method has more to do with individual consumption.
Interaction during classes
Mobile devices can be used for a blended learning approach. It is also possible to use mobile devices for a blended learning approach. Instructors can ask questions during in-person training, and the public can answer them through a survey they take on their smartphones. For that, the coach can share a link to the survey, invite participants via email, or even create a QR code that can be easily captured with a smartphone camera. Immediate feedback is possible, which is especially effective when training large groups.
Main advantages of mobile learning
The Millennial generation has grown up with digital devices. Therefore, mobile learning adapts to the way millennials work and think. But there are so many advantages to M-learning that all generations can benefit from it. Let's take a look at some of the advantages of M-Learning.
Learn where and when you want
M-learning allows students to carry their learning materials with them. Your employees or clients don't have to be in a specific place or learn at the same time. Their learning content is available to them in their pockets. Waiting time, such as waiting for a plane or flight time, can be used for more productive tasks like learning something new.
Employees may be more motivated to learn something new or take online training if they know they can take their learning materials with them everywhere. That is especially the case if they don't have time to learn during their regular work hours. Mobile learning facilitates and accelerates feedback
M-Learning provides (and speeds up) any feedback you want to receive from your team. Since it's much easier for your employees to access the content you're sharing, you can expect higher completion rates for your training courses and faster results and statistics from your online tests!
Long distance is not a problem
Reach dispersed employees who are always on the go and need easy access to content. With just a few clics you can easily access content like product updates, customer personalities, compliance updates and sales pitches
Disadvantages of mobile learning
Mobile devices can be a great distraction. Mobile learning can be a distraction if your users are constantly interrupted by text messages and notifications. Therefore, it requires self-discipline and concentration. However, if you can make your training interactive and fun, the other apps available on mobile devices won't be a distraction for your students.
Lack of internet connection
Using mobile devices for e-learning could be a problem if your participants do not have an internet connection or electricity available. Despite that, data collected by GSMA intelligence indicates that there are now more mobile devices than people in the world. Considering the tremendous growth of mobile devices, lack of internet connection, poor connection quality and restricted access to electricity will become problems of the past.
Themes with detailed images may not be readable on a small screen. Mobile learning may not work very well for certain types of content you want to share. Technical topics with detailed images may not be readable on a small screen, for example. The same goes for complicated mathematical equations or even long essays. For those tasks that require more display, a larger screen may work better.
Mobile learning is informal and this is what most students are looking for. Mobile learning allows learning in your comfort zone; it does not require anyone to abandon their usual activities and plans. In fact, for those who don't take classes online, they may even have continuous access to learning resources like articles, videos, audios, visuals, and even texts. This availability on demand has further contributed to the success and fame of this learning approach.
These benefits of mobile learning and others, such as ecology, cost-effectiveness, convenience, and the level of fun derived from learning, have even forced corporate giants and growing companies to switch from physical to virtual training configurations. Due to the continuous introduction of new devices and the varieties available today, the prices of mobile devices have dropped dramatically over the years. This is the cherry on the top for those who are thinking of learning M-Learning. This implies that everyone from young to old can easily make a one-time investment for years of learning and fun.