How mobile learning could be a big game changer
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When I come to think of someone who demonstrates some of the best traits of a learner, I can’t help thinking about kids, who have such pliable minds, perfect for learning new things. That’s a challenge for many adult learners who find it hard to unlearn or wipe the slate clean and approach something new with childlike curiosity and openness.
A few years ago, I watched in utter disbelief as a friend’s little kid used a smartphone as if it was a child’s play (quite literally in this situation). He had my attention as he effortlessly navigated from one screen to another like an adult, and finally launched his favourite animated-character app. While the kid was gleeful about the sounds that were mumbo jumbo to me, this humorous and interesting incident got me thinking about the future of online learning, which, in my opinion, could very well be Mobile (mobile learning).
The ease of use of a mobile device and convenience of online medium combined together can offer learning opportunities beyond comprehension to learners from all age groups. One can only begin to think about it. I wonder why there are still people around who are skeptical about mobile learning. I believe they exist because mobile learning has not reached its true potential yet. Much remains to be done.
Mobile Learning: The Way Forward
For mobile learning to become the future norm in education, we would need a few basic things to be right, including widespread usage of smartphones (we, as a country, are already there), easy access to high-speed cellular data networks (we are getting there), and a wide-ranging educational app ecosystem (it’s developing at a rapid pace) that gives learners varied learning options.
I believe all these basic requirements are achievable. These requirements have been met by many developed countries, which have witnessed a new breed of learners called mobile learners. Their numbers have been increasing rapidly, giving a fillip to the players in Edtech space, who are developing solutions, particularly apps for mobile learning.
According to a recent study, the number of mobile users was expected to be around 213 million by June 2015 in India alone. Add the number of mobile users across world to that, and you will have a staggering total number of mobile users. This trend assures you about the untapped opportunities inherent in the mobile medium.
Mobile and Innovative Technology
I envisage a changed education landscape, where learners will consume learning content mostly (if not entirely) on mobile devices. Today’s innovative technology products have serious capabilities to shape the future of education. I can think of a few innovations, which include audiobooks, digital content or e-books, and wearable technology (smart watch) among other things, which make content consumption easier.
These innovations (and many others) coupled with some nifty mobile apps, which render content or useful information in an easy-to-consume manner, can revolutionise online education, as we know it today. In future, we will definitely see more amazing products that could change how online education is delivered and consumed.
Imagine someone sitting on a park bench and listening to an audiobook or viewing a course video on his phone and then attending a live class on the same device. You can also think of someone in a busy place like a Subway getting a push notification for live, online class on his smart watch well in advance so that he/she has enough time to go to a quiet café and join the class on his smartphone or tablet. Many people have started using technology in that way. Still, many others need to follow suit.
The way I see it, learners’ expectations from education technology and online education have gone up big time. The millennial learner wants options, lots of options.
Working Together for a Better Future
At WizIQ, we recognized the need for mobile learning early on and developed mobile learning apps for the popular platforms, such as iOS and Android. We have seen encouraging results ever since we launched these apps, which have been extensively used by learners and educators to learn and teach anytime, anywhere.
Educators can make their content (recorded video lectures, class recordings, documents, presentations, etc.) available to learners. They can even connect with them in real time using the WizIQ Virtual Classroom, which can be accessed on mobile devices, such as iPhone, iPad & Android phones and tablets. We are continuously trying to make our mobile learning offering even better.
However, true innovation in learning can come when technology product (hardware) manufacturers and software developers work in tandem and have a shared vision of creating great experiences for learners and educators. I can foresee education technology considerably improving the ways and introducing new ones in which learners learn. Exciting times lie ahead for both educators and learners.