Today, at each step, the Internet and information technologies are changing many aspects of life. ICT has find applications in every branch of industry including education providing a good foundation for creative and effective use of knowledge. Mobile technology being one in education segment has change the basic view of learning when, where and how to learn.
The notion of mobile learning covers a wide range of devices used for learning at any place at any time. These include various wired and wireless devices like mobile phones, PDA, iPod, Sony PSP, notebook devices to name a few.
The importance of mobile devices over the last decade has grown spectacularly in education. Mobile or m-learning today are sharing best practices and creating new opportunities for our students as well as their teachers and parents.
We are in the first generation of mobile learning, since it is in its early stage of development. There are billions of mobile devices being used around the world; it is expected that the next generation of mobile learning will be more ubiquitous. There will be smart systems everywhere that learners can learn from, and learners themselves will be mobile. Moreover, the next generation of mobile technology will be virtual, with virtual input and output capabilities.
The use of mobile learning allows for cloud teaching cloud teaching where access to people, resources and information will float freely regardless of location. Learners in different time zones and locations will be able to access tutors when needed. According to a Futurelab report, by 2020, digital technology will be embedded and distributed in most objects, such as keys, clothes, notebooks and even shoes.
This new technological era is going to change the way we live and access education. One other development will be in the re-shaping on the fronts of our social, business, learning and educational lives as the pattern of our communication and interaction across time and space changes. Many countries around the world are starting to set the access of internet anywhere and anytime as one of the human right for their citizen. Further placing the goals to establish the infrastructure to allow access by all, this will facilitate the use of mobile technology in education.
Mobile learning is not about the technology, it is about the learner. The learner is mobile and is at the centre of the learning, and the technology allows the learner to learn in any context. Mobile learning is a social rather than technical phenomenon of people on the move, constructing spontaneous learning contexts and advancing through everyday life by negotiating knowledge and meanings through interactions with settings, people and technology.
In this fast changing world, different stakeholders will have to work together to develop new educational models to cater for new generations of learners who will be using mobile technologies that do not exist as yet. Educators need to re-conceptualize education and make the shift from education at certain ages to lifelong learning. The current educational model is outdated because it was developed before the advent of information and communication technologies. Also, teachers are need to be trained for the current model of education, i.e technology enhanced education system. They need to learn it and practice it during their trainings and should continue using the same when they become teachers. Education solution providers must examine the way educational resources are designed and delivered and take into consideration the needs and characteristics of current and new generations of students. Queries like, ‘what is the ideal length of a course and what support is required?’ should be researched thoroughly.
Mobile learning will transform the method of learning for new generations of learners because it offers the opportunity to use active learning strategies and for learners to learn in their own context, which will result in higher-level learning. With m-learning, any group of students can access content anywhere from electronic repositories or create their own content, validate the content, and help each other regardless of location. Then the same content generated can be used by others students also. This pedagogy will of m-learning will move more and more outside of the classroom and into the learners’ environments, both real and virtual, thus becoming more situated, personal, collaborative and lifelong. This will also allow learners from different cultures to express themselves more readily compared to face-to-face situations. Also, learners can use the technology to develop communities of learners, where learners can tutor and help each other in the learning process, thus resulting in high-level learning.
The increasing availability of open educational resources for mobile technology is making access to learning more affordable for anyone who wants to learn. There should be more research on how to design and deliver learning to reach the masses, taking into consideration learners’ cultures, values, and local contexts. Education must take advantage of this abundance of mobile technology to deliver education to students anywhere and anytime