I’ve already spoken much about the influence of the Internet and mobile devices lately. Their influence has also been crucial to the developments in these sectors, which in turn has influenced a lot of technological enhancements in other sectors. It is indeed exciting to see the presence of the mobile in all sectors – eCommerce, Enterprise Mobility and Social Networking are just a few to name.
But in this article, I’ll be discussing about a sector which is crucial both socially as well as economically. The presence of smartphones, tablets, and the Internet in the field of education is the main crux of my article here, and I’ll be talking about mLearning and mEducation in this piece.
STILL A NASCENT CONCEPT, BUT WITH POTENTIAL
While distance learning, education over the Internet and MOOCs have been in vogue for quite some time now, the concept of mobile phones and electronic devices in the field of education is still a nascent concept. However, recent trends indicate a turn in the tides for the mEducation sector, which holds lots of promise for the future.
To give a brief idea of what I’m talking about, here are some of the recent movements in favour of mEducation:
• A MORE TECH-LITERATE GENERATION
We are in an era where everybody is embracing technology like never before. Information technology is becoming more and more mainstream, and with the power of the cloud and the Internet, technology is becoming more and more user friendly.
This in turn will pave the way for a generation which will rely wholly on the presence of technology everywhere. Children will adapt easily and readily to education services over mobile devices.
In fact, in the U.S., it is almost essential for students to carry iPads, where they can access their course content. Also relevant in this particular trend is a survey conducted by Statista in March 2014 regarding U.S. students’ attitude towards mobile device usage in the classroom, where a total of 63% of students said that they are strongly in favor of using mobile devices in the classroom for education purposes.
• GOVERNMENTS ARE SHOWING INTEREST
According to a study conducted by McKinsey & Company and The GSMA, many countries’ governments are promoting the use of information and communications technology in schools and investing in portable devices that enable new ways of learning – all in a bid to improve learning outcomes.
In fact, a few years back, the Indian government had launched a tablet for students that was aimed at inculcating mLearning in Indian schools and colleges. Although the Aakash tablet lacked in the hardware requirements and was therefore a flop of sorts, the scheme holds good promise in the country for mLearning.
• EVOLUTION OF MOBILE APPLICATIONS
There is an unbridled growth in the number of educational applications on the mobile platform. In fact, a statistic from Statista showcases that from 2012 to 2017, the compound annual growth rate of free and paid education apps stands at 239% and 180%, which is actually more than the total average which stands at 188% and 178% for free and paid respectively.
All in all, there have been many factors to influence the growth of Mobile in the education sector.
According to McKinsey & Company and The GSMA, most of the opportunities in mLearning and mEducation will lie in content, platform and software. There will also be an aspect of connectivity. Altogether, the mEducation market will be valued at $70 billion by 2020!
The key opportunities and driving forces can be visualized as the following chart.
HOW CAN THE PRESENCE OF MOBILE DEVICES IMPROVE EDUCATION SYSTEMS?
mLearning can radically change the outreach of education in all aspects. Do keep in mind, we’re talking about the power of connectivity over mobile devices, the advancements in technology in the mobility sector and the power of the Internet.
Some key advantages of mLearning, or mEducation, can be enumerated as under:
• LARGER GEOGRAPHICAL AUDIENCE
This was a no-brainer actually. The presence of mobile devices in classrooms will make the world a smaller place. Students can access content from universities in other countries over the Internet.
Take for example Salman Khan’s Khan Academy. Well although it’s not strictly a form of mLearning, Khan Academy has truly revolutionized the way education can be carried out.
But over mobile devices, we’re making use of the Internet and other telephony services. In countries such as China, Bangladesh and Indonesia, mLearning is the medium through which school students are learning English, even with the dearth of qualified teachers locally.
There was this interesting case study I came across a couple of weeks back, where students from the Center of Teaching and Learning Innovation in Auckland, New Zealand used mobile devices and technology to blog their assignments from any location.
Collaboration refers to students from various regions talking to peer groups to understand and apply concepts. This is quite literally increasing the boundaries of a classroom, and like I said before, it’s making the world a smaller place.
• BETTER CONTENT
With mLearning, students can access from a wide plethora of content that can suit them accordingly. Moreover, some organisations are also promoting mLearning schemes, which enhance the learning experience by producing specially tailored content to suit different students. And this will definitely lead to a better education and learning practice.
• DATA ANALYTICS
One of the coolest advantages of mLearning is the ability of mobile devices to continuously track the statistics as far as the education part is concerned. There will be a detailed system to track the progress of the student.
If needed, this data can be shared with the parents or teachers too, which will in turn make the overall learning experience more comprehensive.
The presence of mobile devices in the education sector holds tremendous potential for the future. With smart data analysis, connectivity options and specialized hardware, a learning experience can be envisioned which can be catered to different types of students and at the same time make learning more fun and smart.
This will prove to be conducive to the overall development, and at the same time increase the efficiency and effectiveness of the overall education experience.
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