February 14, 2011

MobileActive.org. Has The mLearning Moment Arrived?

CHI2010b.png A very interesting read from MobileActive.org on the state of mobile Learning.

quotemarksright.jpgThe field of mLearning, or learning facilitated by mobile devices, has been generating growing interest in recent years and months.

Outspoken advocates of mLearning, such as the authors of a report recently released by GSMA Development Fund, assert that the increasing ubiquity of mobile phone penetration (especially in the developing world) has the potential to reach more students than ever before.

Critics, such as Kentaro Toyama, reply that digital content (mobile or otherwise) does little to improve the quality of education and that the hype surrounding it is unwarranted.

One opinion, shared by skeptics and advocates alike, is that "Technology is only a tool: no technology can fix a bad educational philosophy or compensate for bad practice. In fact, if we are going in the wrong direction, technology will get us there faster. Providing schools with hardware and software does not automatically reform teaching and improve learning.

... While the authors of these and other studies highlight the potential of mLearning, it is clear that many of the projects studied are small-scale and use technology (e.g. smartphones) that limit implementation on a larger scale. Another challenge, noted by many in the field, is that much of the existing literature suffers from positive biases, as it is often written by members of the implementing organizations, rather than by 3rd party researchers in peer-reviewed evaluations with sound methodologies.

Despite these concerns, there seems to be a great deal of momentum building around mLearning. As mobile coverage expands and advanced mobile phones become increasingly available, this is only likely to continue.quotesmarksleft.jpg

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