Cheaper mobile devices, coupled with the boom in educational app development, mean that many learners in developing countries can now access quality educational media outside the classroom. An increase in mobile access in these markets has enabled educational technology businesses and non-profit organisations to broaden education, taking learning to learners’ daily commutes and homes.
What is mobile learning?
Mobile learning is education that makes use of mobile devices such as cellphones, smartphones and tablets. As more people gain access to mobile devices (while quality in-classroom education remains less consistently available), learners get additional ways to access and share vital knowledge using mobile devices.
Why is mobile learning useful?
Mobile device ownership globally has increased rapidly in recent years. This increased access makes mobile learning a valuable way to reach a broader segment of learners who may have the capacity and desire to learn but limited, unequal access to technology in the classroom.
In addition to providing increased access, mobile learning has multiple benefits:
- Usability: learners who own mobile devices know how to use their devices; thus, the barrier to learning how to use new mobile educational technology is low.
- Access: learners can access lessons and learning feedback anywhere using their devices, for example during commutes, and at home.
- Instant feedback: learners can receive instant feedback such as grading questions without being dependant on teachers.
- Personalised learning: mobile lessons can be tailored to individuals’ academic strengths and weaknesses, providing educational supplementation that helps fill any crucial gaps in education.
Why is mobile learning a good choice of educational technology in low-resource schools?
In some parts of the world, landline ownership is minimal, and learners do not have broad access to broadband internet. Mobile devices, however, provide connectivity and the possibility for online and social learning (as well as text-service learning for learners whose households do not own a smartphone).
Mobile communication enables teachers, parents and learners to share knowledge and develop more robust educational frameworks. UNESCO’s mobile learning specialist Steve Vosloo claims ‘mobiles are streamlining education administration and improving communication between schools, teachers and parents.
What can teachers achieve using mobile learning?
There are multiple ways to use mobile learning. Teachers can deliver packages of educational content along with assessments via phone. Learners can also engage socially using educational apps and sharing knowledge in a mutually beneficial, collaborative digital environment.