M-Learning – A New Paradigm in Education
Teaching and learning will continue in a world of words. Mobile educational systems have started to emerge as potential educational environments supporting life-long learning. The role that communication and interaction plays in the learning process is a critical factor. The modern day mobile phone users are experiencing dramatic change in the way they can use their mobile phones. This paper intends to identify and discuss the strategic assumptions behind the current thinking on the m-learning paradigm and to explore the relationships with e-learning development. Mobility and communication are essential for satisfying several needs associated with learning, working, socializing, political participation, entertainment and other activities.
Keyword: m-learning, e-learning, mobile education, mobile learning paradigm.
M-learning has now emerged as a new wave of development, based on the use of mobile devices combined with wireless infrastructure. Mobile Learning has a strong foundational base when it comes to how the student will learn when there is an interaction of the learning material, technological platform, and the wireless network. Just like wireless technology which was built on numerous technological advances, M-Learning also is a combination or a hybrid of more than one system. In this case, M-Learning relies on pedagogical theories and strategies of the Behaviorist, the Cognitivist, and the Constructivist Learning groups. The acceptance of e-Learning or web-based learning is due to growing availability of commercially available Learning Management Systems (LMSs) such as WebCT, BlackBoard, Learning Space, IntraLearn , Top Class, eCollege, Click2learn, Authorware, LearnLinc ,Virtual-U, Web Course in a Box, UniLearn and WebBoard .
Using mobile devices such as Palm handheld computers connected to web servers on campus, students can truly experience the freedom and productivity of mobile handheld computing .
"Behaviorist, cognitivist, and constructivist theories have contributed in different ways to the design of online materials, and they will continue to be used to develop learning materials for online learning. Behaviorist strategies can be used to teach the facts (what); cognitivist strategies to teach the principles and processes (how); and constructivist strategies to teach the real-life and personal applications and contextual learning. There is a shift toward constructive learning, in which learners are given the opportunity to construct their own meaning from the information presented during the online sessions. The use of learning objects to promote flexibility and reuse of online materials to meet the needs of individual learners will become more common in the future. Online learning materials will be designed in small coherent segments, so that they can be redesigned for different learners and different contexts. Finally, online learning will be increasingly diverse to respond to different learning cultures, styles, and motivations" .
Emerging technologies are leading to the development of many new opportunities to guide and enhance learning that were unimaginable even a few years ago. There are already about one million courses on the internet, 30,000 of them compiling with a scientific definition of online, 22,000 of these are listed on the telecampus portal, with many of them making didactic use of the World Wide Web .
M-Learning – A paradigm shift
As our society is entering a knowledge-based, Internet/Web-driven economy, college education becomes a necessity for any individual who wants to be competitive and successful, regardless of his or her age, gender, and race (Fisher, 1997; Holstein, 1997). The wireless technologies of the mobile revolution have seen the worldwide proliferation of wireless communication devices .
As part of a growth trend in the e-learning market, mobile learning is evolving into a dynamic, interactive and personalized experience for employees. Framingham, Mass.-based research firm IDC predicts the e-learning market will grow from $6.6 billion in 2002 to nearly $25 billion by 2006. The Economist Intelligence Unit, the UK-based business information arm of the company that publishes "The Economist," expects e-learning and traditional learning to become indistinguishable in the near future. More than 150 million Americans carry a mobile phone. According to IDC, that number will grow to more than 180 million by 2007 .
It has been pointed out that access to technology makes technology an integral part of daily learning . It has often been suggested that access on its own will not fulfill the promise which many have meant lies in the use of ICT in school , but where several criteria for the successful integration of ICT play a role.
It has been pointed out that school learning is characterized by memorization and reproduction of school texts, and where teacher talk dominates and students’ activity is largely limited to answering questions formulated by the teacher . In such a learning culture, drawing on examples of mobile telephony in classrooms, one can say that their role can be regarded as that of an “intruder” in the learning culture, a disturbance , and as such a disruptive technology. Mobile technology actually offers the appropriate educational environment to assist learning activities both inside and outside the classroom .
As Paul Harris in Goin’ mobile states mobile learning is the ability to enjoy an educational moment from a cell phone or a personal digital assistant .
Today’s ICT has significantly extended the scope for learning anywhere, anytime and the term m-learning has gained serious strength and influence in describing the future of education . From a pedagogical perspective, mobile learning supports a new dimension in the educational process. Features of mobile learning include :
Mobile learning technology
The new paradigm is more proactive and pushes information to people; the components that mobile learning system includes :
From courseware to performance-ware: The stand-alone learning content model needs to transform to a context-driven, task-sensitive, performance-support model. Examples include guided tasks, instructions, job-aids, and reference-ware. In addition, standards need to be defined to interchange performance-objects, which are delivered within the context of a job-task, with leaning-objects, which focus on modular course content.
From course management to business workflow: Business workflow and processes become the delivery platform for mobile learning and performance support.
From instructional design to performance-based design: Compiling content and courses transforms into job, task, activity, and business application context analysis. This links workflow to granular content.
From mouse-and-click to pen-and-voice interface: New forms of interactivity include small or non-existent keyboard interfaces. In the future, pen-based handwriting-recognition and voice-recognition tools to capture and access information will become the norm.
From centralized server to peer-to-peer networks: Peer-to-Peer networks facilitate communication, collaboration, and resource sharing at the edge of the Internet--compared to the traditional client/server networking model.
According to Empowering Technologies learning technology is moving towards mobile learning era. The evidence is overwhelming that mobile learning is beginning to take hold :
Devices to be used
“The hypothetically perfect device would be small and fit easily into one’s pocket. The screen should fold out to A4 paper size and have paper readability. Wireless connectivity should be of high speed, the user should be always online with the possibility to switch seamlessly between wireless zones and phone networks. The device should have an integrated phone and support all the major office formats for reading and writing as well as “pdf” format. Security should be high, and if the device is lost the data should be made useless with no risk to the owner. The perfect device should render standard web pages perfectly and offer the ability to strip out advertisements etc. and display useful content only. The web pages should be readable offline as well as online. This should facilitate an understandable on-the-fly text-to-voice and voice-to-text feature. The following list describes a close-to-perfect handheld device :
Many obstacles exist in terms of implementing any significant m-learning applications, based on current mobile technology capacity. These obstacles can be summarized in the following form :
Designing Course Structure
The application developer needs to consider the user when designing the mlearning course content and structure. The following simple principles are recommended :
Advantages of Mobile Learning
No other learning approach matches the integrated, continuous flow of m-learning :
Seamless access to learning resources: With mobile learning, you can learn and study anywhere - from the classroom to your desktop or laptop to your pocket. A true mobile learning system allows users to take a course on any device.
Freedom, power, and choice: M-learning students can choose where, when, and how they will study. The new range of options includes online synchronized, online self-paced, downloaded courseware, and computer-based training. M-learning offers new levels of freedom with the ability to exercise control over learning patterns.
Organized productivity: With only a cell phone, handheld device, PDA, or hybrid unit, users can access administrative functions, download courses, and review their learning history through a learning management system. M-learning offers an efficient way for learners to access key information and maximize their time.
Flexible, portable convenience: The ability to customize learning schedules is a key advantage to m-learning. Learners are not restricted to a specific physical environment, a particular delivery channel, or a fixed set of times for undertaking training and education. Using the latest technology, students can update their knowledge base on a just-in-time basis to prepare for meetings or presentations.
The technologies involved in e-learning and m-learning (computers, laptop computers, PDAs (Personal Digital Assistants)/handhelds/ palmtops, smartphones and mobile phones can be arranged on a continuum (Figure 1):
Figure 1: Relationship of m-learning to e-learning
|February 2006 Index|