Mobile Learning & Online Education

A Breif Overwiev

Mobile learning (mLearning) is a form of distance education that involves connectivity through mobile devices and occurs when a learner is not confined to a predetermined location. Mobile devices go beyond the realm of PDA’s or smart phones; included are MP3 players, wireless notebooks and hand held gaming systems. Android OS devices, Blackberries, iPhones, and iPads are increasing in popularity for mLearning, as more companies develop learning applications specifically designed for these devices. According to a report by Ambient Insight in 2008, "the US market for Mobile Learning products and services is growing at a five-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 21.7% and revenues reached $538 million in 2007.”

The History of Mobile Learning

During the 1970’s, an American computer scientist Alan Kay spearheaded the initiative to use Dynabooks for learning and education. Kay, along with his fellow colleagues from the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center proposed that these book-sized computers would be “a personal computer for children of all ages”. The concept of the Dynabook, with the elements of a graphical user interface (GUI), laid the foundation for the modern laptop computer. Although the Dynabook was never quite created, it led to the creation of the Xerox Alto and offered children access to learning in the form of digital media.

Mobile Learning & Its Role with Online Education

Since its conception, mobile learning has been directly tied to online education as the platform for both types of education is rooted in the ability to learn beyond the confines of a classroom. More and more students are choosing online degree programs, as they offer flexibility to balance work and academic schedules. mLearning compliments the elearner’s need for mobility by providing a learning platform that’s even more portable than a laptop. The accessibility of on-the-go education could potentially attract an entirely untapped group of students who may not have had interest in continuing their education due to inconvenience. The ability to offer an instant response without having to disrupt one’s schedule is creating new avenues and methods of learning that appeal to non-traditional students.

The Benefits of Mobile Learning

There are many other benefits to mLearning other than the convenience it offers distance learners:

  • Delivers information through new media channels and establishes different learning stylesStudents that excel in an interactive approach are benefiting from the ability to learn through mobile technologies
  • Offers students a personalized approach to learningLectures, lessons and assignments can be tailored on a per student basis and delivered individually in a format that meets the strengths of the student’s learning style.

    Students can customize the learning process by becoming adept to the applications in which they find the most success.

  • Greater interaction among students in online degree programsCapturing media allows students to take pictures, videos and notes on their mobile devices and send them to an online forum for classmates and professors to view
  • Obtaining information in real timeField research conducted away from the computer can now be instantly recorded and sent to a virtual workspace. This allows the student to focus on gathering information and reflecting upon the research later.

Supporters of Mobile Learning

The following websites support the advancement of mobile technologies to provide students an inSupport Mobile Learningnovative and engaging format for learning. Visit these sites to learn more about mLearning and education technology.
Mobl 21
International Association for Mobile Learning
Mobile Learning Journal
Virtual Learning
Nik's Learning Technology Blog
Sue Waters
Blended EDU
Mobile Games Blog
JISC TechDis Blog
Upside Learning
Computers and Technology Articles
WiFi Librarian
Learning Re-imagined
Train and Go
I Came, I Saw, I Learned
The Journal
Trivantis eLearning Blog
Will at Work Learning
The Learned Man
e-Learning Guru
Breakthrough ELearning
Harold Jarche
Bud the Teacher
Generation YES Blog
Digital Writing, Digital Teaching
Learning and Laptops