Mobile learning is an essential tool in the decentralization of institutional education. Trending ideas such as blended leaning, project based learning, student centered classrooms, and flipped classrooms can all benefit from mobile learning. With a proper understanding of the place for mobile tools, we can develop a sense for when mobile learning will enhance or hinder our work, student learning. We’ll try to pin down a central idea for how it benefits us. From there we can try to construct a simple set of implementation guidelines.
There are many developing areas of education which benefit for mobile learning. In a flipped classroom it’s easy for the student to bring their studies with them anywhere. It would difficult, for example, to bring out your text book on the beach or in the bus. For project based learning mobile devices possess many technologies which enable many opportunities. Properly handled, these will back up blended learning and student centered approaches.
The central idea of mobile devices is decentralization. But that’s not specific enough. There are three avenues for this idea are be realized. Firstly they are devices for convenience of consumption. Secondly devices provide enhanced tools for many activities. Lastly devices provide opportunities for collaboration. These three ways of looking at mobile devices can be imagined as logical guidelines.
If you need fast diversified access to information.
So if your students need access to wide range of content, you can decentralize the delivery. For example, a drama class could have easy access to their lines and collaborative revision on the fly. Students with different learning styles can choose what content delivery works best for them. And in flipped classrooms the content can be accessed from anywhere. Additionally you can have them do some research on devices like finding relevant news stories.
If you have learning goals which can use common mobile device tools.
Mobile devices can use a range of tools like cameras, accelerometers, and GPS. As well, there are many apps which are common to most mobile platforms such as Android and iOS. Such tools can give students independence in project based learning and flipped classrooms.
If you need some collaboration tools.
Being able to instantly share much of the information from the previous two guidelines could be important. You may find social tools to be excellent for working with your students and for them to work together.
When not to use mobile devices.
As Tom Daccord pointed in his article “5 Critical Mistakes Schools Make With iPads (And How To Correct Them)” there are many mistakes that can be made when using mobile learning. (Daccord, 2012) The two most important mistakes to avoid the what and why of mobile learning.
The what is simply that mobile devices are primarily tool and consumption devices. Prior to smart phones most digital content was delivered on devices which were both creative and consumption devices such as laptops and, more so, desktops. The move to mobile devise is technology simply conforming a social structure where most people are consumers and a minority are creators. This only explains why mobile devices are more popular than other computing devices. It’s not to say that they don’t have unique advantages. Have all the advantages we’ve talked about but they, for the most part, are not creative devices.
The why is simply asking yourself if the lesson would benefit from mobile learning. A lesson could conform to the guidelines but still not be optimized when using mobile learning. There are many cases, such as a hands on project, where mobile learning becomes a gimmick. You may have to suffer though a few bad lessons to learn your lesson.
Daccord, T. (2012, September 27). 5 Critical Mistakes Schools Make With iPads (And How To Correct Them). Retrieved July 25, 2015.