Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Shifting Gears with Mobile Learning?

Photo from morguefile.com
The article "Mobile Learning: From single project status into the mainstream?" takes the position that mobile learning is a "subset" of e-learning. The study explores whether mobile learning is a new generation of distance education or, quoting Peters (2004), an "educational paradigm shift." The article discusses the growing use of mobile devices and the fact they offer world wide access to people in developing countries and isolated, rural locations. 

The researchers conducted an international survey amongst distance educators and collected their data in 2006 and 2007 with 88 responses from 27 countries, with the majority from South Africa, Germany, Canada and Great Britain. Fifty nine percent of the respondents were from institutions that offer "both face-to-face (contact-based) and distance learning programs (mixed-mode/hybrid)." 

Sixty one percent of respondents "expected that teaching and learning strategies and methodologies would adapt continuously due to new affordances that technology provides." Seventy seven percent thought that "mobile learning would be very helpful in enhancing teaching and learning independent of time and space." Additionally, 72% believed "that mobile learning would afford new opportunities for learner support and content development and delivery."

Mobile learning is not yet part of mainstream education, but it has potential and there is a demand. The authors discuss the opportunities that mobile technology offers learners in terms of interaction and communication. Further, mobile learning enhances "collaborative, co-operative and active learning."

They conclude that mobile learning "has the potential to become a new generation of distance education" or an "educational paradigm shift," but it must first become integrated into mainstream education. Approximately 78% of the respondents believed that mobile learning "will become an integral part of mainstream higher education and training within three to five years."

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