Mobile Learning could reveal itself as a more effective learning approach, in terms of students’ engagement and time optimization. Instead of demonising mobile devices, the education system should take advantage of the high circulation of mobile devices among young students.
In 2001, Marc Prensky, the American writer and speaker on education known as the inventor of the term Digital Native, wrote: “Our students have changed radically. Today’s students are no longer the people our educational system was designed to teach”. In his work “Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants” (On the Horizon, MCB University Press, Vol. 9 No. 5, October 2001), Prensky explained how digital natives are being exposed to more gadgets and technologies than ever before, and he makes us understand why today’s students don’t just want mobile learning, but they need it, because it is what they are most used to interacting with in their everyday life.
Smartphones and tablets can be considered mainstream devices: they are present in the daily lives of millions of students, and, if used in the right way, they can act as engaging platforms to immerse the Generation Z into the educational content anywhere and anytime, interacting with that content in ways that were not previously possible.
Many schools and universities throughout the world have already understood the potential of mobile learning, adopting – or planning to adopt – mobile technologies in their courses. Let’s discover in the next paragraph how this decision can improve the learning experience of their students.
Mobile phones traditionally have a bad reputation in schools, but this is starting to change. Instead of banning smartphones, some forward-thinking educators are actively transforming them in versatile, motivating and active educational tools. Here are 5 ways mobile devices enrich the learning process for students.
#1 A customised education anytime and anywhere
Combining the convenience of mobile devices – less and less expensive and easy to carry continuously throughout the day – with the power of Artificial Intelligence (here you can learn more about how AI is transforming education), mobile learning broadens the educational opportunities, allowing students to access a high-quality content, customised to their different needs, approaches and levels, wherever they are and whenever they want.
#2 Helping students with disabilities
By now all smartphones and tablets are equipped with features that allow users to adapt the content to their needs, for example expanding the text they’re reading, or using voice-transcription, geolocation and TTS (text-to-speech) systems. It’s easy to understand how elements like these significantly facilitate and improve the learning experience of students with physical disabilities, all in one place: their mobile devices.
#3 Immediate feedback and evaluation moments
Smartphones and tablets allow users to send messages in a fast, cheap and reliable way. Students and teachers can use them as real-time communication channels, facilitating the exchange of information and simplifying the evaluations. Students can have direct access to feedbacks and advancement indicators, making immediate adjustments to reach their goals.
#4 Connecting formal and informal education
Through mobile learning, students can access additional materials to clarify the concepts introduced earlier in the classroom. This means that the learning process continues out of the classroom too, connecting the formal environment (school or University) with the informal one (home).
Using mobile technology at home, students complete the passive activities done in the classroom (such as listening to lessons or memorizing information), with more time to discuss and share alternative interpretations, also working in a collaborative way to prepare new activities and ideas that will take place within the next lesson. So, mobile learning can give students more opportunities to cultivate their skills at home becoming more productive in the classroom.
#5 Education can reach even the most difficult areas in the world
Mobile devices can help to guarantee the access to education also in remote areas, or in those countries afflicted by critical situations such as wars or natural disasters. This happens because mobile devices, in addition to the various features mentioned above, are easier to be repaired than other infrastructures or devices.
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