‘Mobile education’ occurs when a student utilizes portable devices like smart phones, tablets, netbooks or handheld gaming devices, to access learning materials and systems, create content and connect with other students, teachers, learning systems and their environment. Mobile devices mean that education and learning can happen at any time and any place at a speed chosen by the learner, whilst ensuring that teachers can easily provide individual and motivated learning experiences that are relevant to location and context. Mobile learning can be individual or collaborative and transformational.
‘Mobile Education’ comes as an extension to mobile learning, including the whole range of opportunities mobile technologies and systems have to offer to improve learning, teaching, assessment and educational management. Mobile education involves access to e-books and online learning materials and portals, learner/tutor communication, e-assessment, attendance monitoring, curriculum and device management.
The mobile aspect refers to the technologies made use of by students and teachers to teach or learn in varied locations which can be connected to the mobile networks provided by network operators. This enables the use of online resources from most locations around the world, also including those beyond the reach of institutional and public wireless networks.
Currently, the technologies employed for mobile education are more often than not consumer devices such as those listed above. However, there is the potential to integrate mobile connectivity into other equipment and consequently open up fresh and innovative educational opportunities. Examples of which include, connected science equipment which is able to make readings and upload the data in real-time, as a result, saving time and increasing accuracy.
Societies and individuals around the world understand that investment in education is investment in future growth and economic wealth. Mobile connectivity, is able to offer new ways of teaching and learning that are cost-effective and can develop programmes of education that can be personalized to individuals and diverse cultural communities – as a result, driving performance and results.
In most OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) countries, yearly expenses on education embodies between 4% and 5% of their GDP (Gross Domestic Product) – according to an OECD report.
Growing economies, rising populations and an increase of the so-called middle classes are all aspects that are driving the demand for education in developed and emerging economies.
The education sector itself, spends a greater percentage of revenue on technology than most other industries. The rising adoption of smartphones, tablets, portable gaming machines and other handheld devices by individuals, is on the way to creating a potentially compelling learning platform that could be harnessed by a significant proportion of the global education market.
Mobile technologies can also be used collectively to enhance group-based teaching and learning either within an institution or in out-of-classroom scenarios.
Benefits of using mobile education
- Learners have continuous access to the latest textbooks, podcasts, videos and multimedia learning experiences sourced from around the world and can choose when and where to work.
- Assignments and coursework, combining text, images, audio and video, can be created on a mobile device and gathered together in an online portfolio by the learner.
- Students (and educators) are able to connect with each other anywhere and at any time to discuss and explore their learning together.
- Students (and educators) can interact with people pursuing similar disciplines across the world thus building global communities of learning and practice.
- Using mobile devices to introduce topics and run assessments means teachers can reduce the amount of time they spend in front of a class presenting and testing knowledge, freeing up more time for discussion and exploration.
- Information and feedback can be sent directly to learners, teachers, tutors, parents, etc., and quickly acknowledged and followed up.
- Online planning systems can use mobile devices to co-ordinate and send reminders about classes, workshops, events and vacations.
- Test papers can be assessed, collated, aggregated and graded safely and securely when students are ready rather than at set times during the year.
- For many people, especially children and teenagers, the use of mobile devices is inherently exciting, motivating and, if properly structured and supported, can help to build confidence and engage students from hard-to-reach groups and improve their performance.
- Mobile education can be more cost-effective than traditional approaches, enabling the efficient use of accommodation and staff time, and saving money, for example, on photocopying, printing, postage, textbooks and staff travel.
- Mobile technologies make it easier for teachers to provide more differentiated learning experiences and formative assessment for learners of different abilities and with different learning styles or preferences.
- Mobile connected equipment can make data collection by students, inside or outside of the classroom, easier and more accurate.