Mobile learning has become pervasive over the last two decades. In the exciting world of easy-to-access digital media, traditional means of education have been slowly phased out in favor of new and expansive technologies. Here, we will take a closer look at defining mLearning: what it is, how it benefits learners, and the technology underlying these trailblazing edtech solutions.
What is mobile learning?
Often referred to as mLearning, mobile learning refers to any learning process conducted through the use of a mobile device, including tablets, smartphones, and laptops.
mLearning was first developed in the late 90s with the advent of early-generation laptops and proto-smartphones such as Palm Pilots. In the following decades, mobile learning has proliferated – in large part due to the many advances in mobile processing power and internet accessibility.
As interactive learning technology has grown more powerful and more affordable, students rely more and more on mobile learning devices. Now, mobile learning devices like Chromebooks have become standard educational tools for all grade levels.
Microlearning is both a subtype and a benefit of mobile learning. The process involves breaking up larger, more complex subject matter into “bite-sized” chunks of short-form content.
Here’s where mobile learning comes in – these bite-sized chunks of content can take the form of a brief video clip, a slideshow, or a short story. What these different forms of content all have in common is that they are concise.
While the benefits of microlearning have been apparent for decades, the utility of the practice has increased dramatically over just the last several years – coinciding with the rise of mLearning and remote classrooms.
Any number of traditional learning mediums lend themselves well to a shortened microlearning format, including:
- Videos (3-5 minutes)
- Stories (short paragraphs, phrases)
- Images (slideshows, illustrations)
- Audio (brief selections of music, speaking)
Benefits of microlearning
Microlearning enables educators to engage with their students effectively – drawing in and keeping their attention by never lingering for too long on one subject or issue.
Microlearning is an extremely useful practice for students trying to build strong study habits or bolster learning concepts. Microlearning can even be used to develop entirely new skills through daily repetition – such as through the use of learning apps like Duolingo.
Benefits of mobile learning
Mobile learning has made education more accessible, more palatable, and more dynamic than ever before. As the technologies behind mLearning continue to develop, the practice has become further integrated into our daily lives.
Gives students the independence to choose where and when they learn
Perhaps the most obvious benefit of mLearning is accessibility.
Traditionally, learning had to be done at a desk in a classroom, office, or library. Today, learning can take place wherever a student can access the internet. Instant access to the entire breadth of humanity’s knowledge puts today’s learners at an insurmountable advantage over the students of yesteryear – enabling them to access and engage with educational materials wherever, and whenever they want.
Encourages self-paced learning
In recent decades, educational researchers have found just how important pace and rigor is when it comes to individual learning outcomes. A one-size-fits-all approach to learning – which was the standard for classrooms for decades – will often fail to accommodate learners on either end of the curve.
With mLearning, students are given a higher degree of control over how they engage with their lesson – allowing them to learn at a pace that is more comfortable for them. This benefits those students that need a little more time and care, while also giving those that are ahead of the class an opportunity to stay engaged by feeding them new material as necessary.
Learning is more dynamic
It is very unlikely that even two of the same students will share the same exact learning style – and as such, each student will have their own preferred format for learning. While some students are staunch visual learners, others may need to get up out of their seats and move around in order to stay focused.
With mobile learning, teachers have a number of solutions at their disposal for managing large classrooms. Using online edtech platforms like Promethean’s Activinspire enables educators to include a wide variety of differentiated learning materials (photos, games, videos) into their lessons in order to better suit the wants and needs of their students.
The fact that learning materials can be accessed from anywhere means that educators have more flexibility with how they use their classroom, as well as the due dates for their assigned lessons. All of these attributes work to create a more bespoke, dynamic learning experience.
Increases knowledge retention and recall
Using mobile learning strategies allows for lessons to be broken down into segments that are easier to engage with and retain. Large, unwieldy courses risk becoming so bloated as to lose the attention of its audience, or otherwise overwhelm them with information. These types of long-form content do not lend themselves well to a mobile format and therefore are limited to being taught in traditional learning outlets.
Mobile learning removes many of the common barriers that prevent students from fully engaging with their coursework. Using mLearning techniques to break up coursework into smaller, more manageable pieces increases a student’s ability to memorize and recall information. Students are more motivated to engage with the learning process when they feel it can be done quickly and on the go.
While the up-front costs of establishing a platform for mobile learning may seem prohibitive, mobile learning is one of the most cost-effective teaching strategies. Many students already possess the tools (smartphone, laptop) necessary to access online learning resources. From there, all teachers need to do in order to create or distribute new content is to push the new material out to their students through any web-based publishing platform.
Cutting out the cost of paper, learning materials, and other classroom consumables means educators can spend more of their focus on developing lessons – with more money left in their pocket.
Best mobile learning apps
As having an internet-accessible device is a prerequisite for most classrooms, your students likely already have access to a breadth of unique and indispensable mobile learning apps at their fingertips. Knowing how to integrate these apps into your mLearning strategy could be essential to developing your next lesson plan.
How to use mobile learning apps for skill development and retention
Mobile learning apps particularly shine when they can be used to reinforce existing skill sets or to help retain information. Given that these apps can be accessed from anywhere at any given time, their utility in delivering supplemental information cannot be understated.
Apps like Duolingo are particularly useful for informing lessons about language. Practicing every day extends the time and effort a student spends trying to intimate themselves with the language – while also keeping them motivated through the use of gamification and rewards.
For more formalized classroom settings, programs like Promethean’s Classflow are essential to mobile learning. Educators are given dynamic control over how they develop and disperse their classroom material – creating an environment where students are given more space to learn at their own pace. Teachers can track assignments, instantly grade assessments, and even connect in-person students to their at-home peers in a virtual classroom.
Request a demo today to see the Promethean ActivPanel in action.