Friday, 3 April 2009

Why mobile learning is on the rise and benefits diverse populations


In January 2009 Carly Shuler (a fellow at the Joan Ganz Cooney Center) came out with a fabulous paper on the benefits of mobile learning entitled: pockets of potential - Using Mobile Technologies to Promote Children’s Learning.
Although the document focuses on mobile learning for children, you can easily deduct the benefits for all learner groups. Carly Shuler recently graduated from the Harvard Graduate School of Education with an Ed.M. in Technology, Innovation and Education, where she studied how new media and emerging technologies can be used to effectively educate children.

The document is 56 pages so you can read it easily on trolley or bus.
Some of the issues talked about are known to most of us:

1. Encourage “anywhere, anytime” learning Mobile devices allow students to gather, access, and process information outside the classroom. They can encourage learning in a real-world context, and help bridge school, afterschool, and home environments.

2. Reach underserved children Because of their relatively low cost and accessibility in low-income communities, handheld devices can help advance digital equity, reaching and inspiring populations “at the edges” — children from economically disadvantaged communities and those from developing countries.

3. Improve 21st-century social interactions Mobile technologies have the power to promote and foster collaboration and communication, which are deemed essential for 21st-century success.

4. Fit with learning environments Mobile devices can help overcome many of the challenges associated with larger technologies, as they fi t more naturally within various learning environments.

5. Enable a personalized learning experience Not all children are alike; instruction should be adaptable to individual and diverse learners. There are signifi cant opportunities for genuinely supporting differentiated, autonomous, and individualized learning through mobile devices.

But what I found very interesting and useful was the section with the Goals for Mobile Learning. In this section she touches a point on 'Understand mobile learning as a unique element of education reform' which is VERY important in our current educational environment. In many schools mobile devices are banned, and as such young learners do not get the necessary responsibility to enable them to work with this new tool that offers immediate contact to knowledge and content. She dives deeper into this topic in the paragraph 'Engage the public and policymakers in defining the potential of mobile devices for learning'.

If you are into mobile learning or you think about adding mobile learning into your learning environment, this gives a good overview of the issues that are currently being discussed worldwide and the advantages it offers. It also offers great resources.