Distance learning used to be perceived as an unusual and convenient format. Since then, many people have gotten used to studying from home. But progress has gone further, and there is an opportunity to make the learning process continuous and even more flexible – to obtain knowledge directly from a smartphone.
The Key Idea of Mobile Learning
Mobile learning is a new technology in education known as M-learning. It allows access to knowledge anytime via mobile technology, such as smartphones or tablets.
M-learning is relevant to any field. For example:
- Preparing children for school
- Training of adults and children in foreign languages
- Learning new professions
- Assists in training professionals who satisfy students’ requests to “write my paper“
- Corporate training
What Does Microlearning Have to Do with It?
A popular form of mobile learning that captures its essence well is microlearning:
- You break down information into small portions of 2-7 minutes each. And you pack them into different formats – for example, video, text, and audio.
- Each content is self-contained but part of the whole learning system.
- In each unit, a person learns one action or rule and practices it with hands-on exercises or simulators.
- Lessons can be accessed from any device, e.g., phone, computer, and tablet.
- Learning is integrated harmoniously into the workday, and students learn regularly.
Mobile Devices are Ideal for Microlearning
The student downloads the mobile app, learns theory, completes practical assignments, works on simulators, and takes tests. Students can communicate with each other and their teachers and work together on projects. As a rule, microlearning and mobile learning opportunities are limited only by the app’s functionality.
Advantages of Mobile Learning
Distance learning has pros and cons, and we’ve covered them in a separate article. And below, we will discuss the advantages of mobile learning.
You can Learn Anytime and Anywhere
The primary reason mobile learning has become popular is the extra freedom of action. According to a survey, 98% of people carry their phones with them all the time, and about 92% have the Internet on their phones. A person can drink coffee on the balcony and take a class simultaneously. He can ride in transportation to work and use that time to benefit from learning.
Continuity of Learning
Modern programs synchronize data and allow you to work with the same material on different devices. A company employee studied the material on a work computer, returned home, and continued learning from a cell phone. This synchronization also allows you to secure your data in case your phone breaks or gets lost.
Affordability of Training
Mobile device prices are constantly dropping, and the Internet works worldwide, so even people from poor, remote regions can access valuable knowledge. Plus, online training is much cheaper than face-to-face training.
Good Quality Communication
Messages from mobile devices are sent very quickly, so teachers and students can exchange feedback quickly. For example, an instructor sees a new notification on the phone and instantly gives a response, even after hours.
Students can choose a training program to suit almost any need. In addition, they can select the format in which it is more convenient to receive information. For example, some learners find auditory information easier to absorb, so they take audio lessons or watch videos (e.g., the talking head format). Others perceive visual information better, so they prefer text lessons with diagrams and pictures.
Game elements encourage and motivate students to complete the training to the end. They use ratings, a point system, or quizzes to do this. For example, a student passes a test and gets 5 points. He needs to get another 15 points to move to the next level. The brain tends to finish what it started faster, so moving to a new group will be seen as an unfinished task, and its completion will be accelerated.
Challenges of Mobile Learning
Some of the challenges of mobile learning complicate the learning process. Are they genuine? And how do you get around them?
Not Everywhere has the Internet
When one lives in a rural area, learning can be hindered by a lack of Internet. To solve this problem, apps with offline access to materials began to appear.
Failures in Apps
Mobile apps for students are standard programs that can contain errors, slow down, or stop working on the device. Failures are rare, but no one is immune to them. They often occur if a person is using an outdated version of the app. To keep the app working correctly, you must regularly update it to the latest version.
Indeed, phones and tablets do not have as big screens as computers. But are you using your computer’s whole screen to read a document? Usually, you use about half of the screen. For 80% of people, smartphone and tablet screens are big enough to look at information comfortably.
Limited Battery Power
Yes, your phone can run out of power at any time. But the phone has become such a necessary accessory that people always try to keep it charged. For example, handheld devices charge the phone without access to power. This ensures, in turn, that people have access to knowledge at all times.
When students turn on their phones to complete a lesson, their attention can be distracted by social media posts, news feeds, and other notifications. Mobile learning fosters discipline and improves focus.
It’s Hard to Develop Content
You can’t just take a university lecture, break it up into small parts, publish it on an app, and call it mobile learning. Organizing mobile learning is an excellent opportunity to rethink your technology and teaching methods. Read more about it below.
Steps to Start M-Learning
You can easily create M-learning from scratch or adapt existing materials if you know the answers to these questions.
Do you need mobile learning specifically?
Analyze the situations your learners are comfortable learning or when they need the knowledge. For example, a manager in the car watches a three-minute video before meeting with a customer to recall key product features.
How do you adapt content to the mobile format?
Estimate how long it will take to develop or adapt the content you need.
If you are developing a course from scratch:
- Describe the critical learning outcome – what the person in your system can do and at what quality
- Describe the steps on how to get there
- Based on the steps, outline the structure of the course and think about the format of the materials.
- Develop theoretical and practical lessons for each element of the structure
The branching of the structure and format of the lessons affects the amount of work. For example, creating interactive elements is more complex than writing a text lesson.
If you need to adopt a ready-made course for mobile learning, you can simply shorten the text, break the video into short segments, and add diagrams. But it’s often easier and more productive to redesign a course:
- Evaluate existing content
- Describe the intended learning outcome
- Extract key steps from the old material to achieve that outcome
- Develop content based on the key steps. Use only important information.
Since childhood, people have been taught that mobile devices interfere with the learning process, so they prohibit using phones in the classroom. New approaches to learning have made the phone a great aid to flexible and continuous learning.