Thursday, April 26, 2012

Mobility in Learning

People are eagerly waiting for the next metro at the rush hour. Expressways are jammed up. It was a bad day for the stock markets around the globe. More discounts to online shoppers and many such bits and pieces of information are always at our fingertips. The point I am trying to drive is that the powerful mobile technology we use every day is changing our nature and means of accessing information.

This has been the case with learning too. Learning has gone through phases of advancement in recent times. First, we had eLearning which took some time to create an impression in peoples mind. By the time, eLearning became feasible for the masses; we have the new entrant “Mobile Learning”. Mobile learning is at times also considered an offshoot of eLearning but that isn’t the case.

Mobile learning or m-learning attempts to do the same thing so one should not misconstrue it to be two different processes. M-Learning is already a thriving phenomenon in the developed parts of the world and also an emerging field in the developing continents. It has recently caught everyone’s attention and it certainly has a great potential for contributing to social and economic development of the learning masses globally.  Mobility in Learning

Use of portable mobile platforms such as tablet PCs, PDAs, and smart phones with wireless networks enable not only mobility but also mobile learning. This allows teachers and students to learn and also to extend their teaching to spaces beyond the conventional classrooms. Within the classroom, instructors are using mobile learning to open up new avenues of interaction with learners.

Numerous creative educationists are exploring new ways of utilizing powerful mobile technologies coupled with guided instructional and pedagogy theories to leverage the potential of mobile learning. Now, using these mobile technologies and digital media to support learning also requires reforming our thinking and practices on how to design learning courses compatible for dissemination on mobile platforms. This also requires adequate mobile learning tools support to the instructional designers and teachers working on the learning course content.

Even though mobility is expanding at a tremendous pace, there are also many challenges to be tackled in making learning content feasible for adaption on mobile devices. For starters, the capabilities supported by mobile versions of commonly used development technologies such as Flash® are different from desktop. On the other side, HTML5 is fast emerging as the industry standard for building rich interfaces. Internet bandwidth through broadband and wireless is still to reach the momentum.

Even after these challenges, mLearning is still expanding the possibilities of where and how learning could occur with well-designed and agile learning spaces. What we expect from such technologies is that they support and enable both mobility and effective learning in the virtual and conventional classrooms. They also need to enable learning experiences that are collaborative, accessible, and integrated with the world beyond the classroom. Lastly, it is important to remember that technology is just a powerful tool but learning completely depends on sharing knowledge, people, places, activities and content delivered with the aid of such technology.

I look forward for your thoughts on mobile learning, challenges being faced in the development and use cases in your organization.