According to UNESCO, more than 6 billion people around the world are using connected mobile devices. These also account twice as many Internet accesses as those made from a computer. Mobile technology continues to be predominantly used for communication and both sharing and accessing information. But it is also starting to get used for other purposes which also include m-learning.
M-learning, also known as mobile learning is a form of learning which involves the use of mobile devices such as mobile phones, tablets, notebooks, handheld computers and other mobile technologies. These can be used independently or in combination with other technologies and traditional resources like textbooks, both inside and outside the classroom setting. They can be used to access learning materials/resources, communicate with educators and other learners, take tests/exams, etc. M-learning is most often used in educational institutions but it is also widely used in workplace and other settings including informal learning.
No matter if used alone in online setting or in combination with the traditional learning in a brick-and-mortar classroom, m-learning offers a number of advantages. Some of the most important ones include:
Instant access to learning/resources at any time and from anywhere with mobile signal. This makes m-learning an important part of distance education and making quality education more accessible to a wider population.
Lower cost of education/training. By enabling the learner to complete most or all education/training on a distance, m-learning dramatically reduces the overall cost of education/training.
Enhanced learning experience. Regardless if used in the traditional classroom setting or alone, m-learning often enhances the overall learning experience. In addition to offering the convenience of learning from virtually anywhere at any time, mobile technology also replaces much of the traditional resources, facilitates communication and interaction with educators and other learners, etc.
Like most other forms of education, m-learning has its disadvantages as well. Some of the greatest drawbacks of learning by using mobile devices include:
Technical challenges and obstacles. Examples include difficulties with the Internet connectivity, bandwidth, battery life and compatibility, to mention only a few.
Risk of distractions. It isn’t difficult to get distracted by incoming calls, updates, emails, etc.
Cost of investment. Mobile devices that support m-learning materials and platforms tend to be quite expensive. Also, continuous progress of technology, features, functionalities and capabilities requires a continuous investment to remain ‘up-to-date’.