Mobile Learning

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Mobile learning in the 21st century: benefit for learners Abstract As the quantity of information available increases exponentially and the general pace of life accelerates, the ability to navigate, access, validate and share information will be a pivotal skill in an increasingly complex environment. This skill will affect every part of a person’s existence, including everything from their ability to remain competitive in the workplace, to their ability to make personal choices about holidays, social activities and personal development projects. This article proposes four fundamental learning advantages that are gained more easily, or to a greater degree, through the use of mLearning than through traditional face to face instruction, paper based distance education or traditional eLearning. Based on secondary academic research, and field research into current examples of mLearning, this article provides an alternative definition for mobile learning (mLearning) and predicts some characteristics of the future learning environment, including the increased importance of metacognitive and literacy skills. It is proposed that mLearning can provide access, context, collaboration and appeal advantages and additional facilitation measures for facilitators. Finally, a glimpse of the future will be provided including hypothetical examples.

mLearning is the acquisition of any knowledge and skill through using mobile technology, anywhere, anytime, that results in an alteration in behaviour. The following points are to be noted from this definition. • The term ‘mobile technology’ refers to any device that is designed to provide access to information in any location, or while on the move. Specifically this would include, but not be limited to mobile phones, personal digital assistants (PDA), tablet computers and laptops. Terms such as teaching and training are not used in this definition. It is not suggested that these methods of facilitating learning will disappear, however, greater emphasis will be placed on self-directed learning. The behaviourist idea of an ‘alteration in behaviour’ is used because as the information age continues to progress, more people will be gaining more knowledge, more often and more easily. However, without an alteration in behaviour, it is not deemed to be learning.

Figure 1. Mobile Learning

Figure 1 is a graphic representation of mLearning, which in this instance is synonymous with flexible learning. It details the time issue by showing that if information is a) not available, b) not available at a certain time or place, or c) is the incorrect information, and does not result in the required behavioural change, then time is expended unproductively.

1 Copyright © 2004 Geddes S.J. The author assigns to the Knowledge Tree e-journal and educational non-profit institutions a non-exclusive license to use this document for personal use and in courses of instruction provided that the article is used in full and this copyright statement is reproduced. The author also grants to the Knowledge Tree e-journal a non-exclusive license to publish this document in electronic or print form within Knowledge Tree e-journal publications and/or the World Wide Web. Any other usage is prohibited without the express permission of the author.

Mobile learning in the 21 century: benefit for learners


MLearning Advantages
Cutting edge information and communication technology (ICT) can most often be found employed within gaming, movies or other sectors of the entertainment industry. It generally takes 12-18 months for its adoption to cross over into mainstream industry learning applications (E. Masie, 2004. pers comm, 28 July). This mainstream industry adoption has been emerging over the last few years with some positive results. This article proposes four major advantages that can be gained from mLearning to a greater degree, or more easily than any other learning methods. The advantages are:...
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