Most of us have heard about apps such as Duolingo and those of us that are in the field of education, have probably also been exposed to a mobile-friendly extension of a learning management system or recorded lectures.
Although starting out as an auxiliary platform, Mobile Learning is fast becoming a force to be reckoned with.
To better appreciate the adaptation rate of Mobile Learning, let's consider the numbers, more specifically the Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) comparison between Mobile Learning and e-Learning in general.
E-Learning is the collection of Electronic Technologies that allow us to replicate or support the function of the traditional classroom. Mobile Learning can be said to do the same, but with Mobile Technologies.
Just to put that in context, if you have a 100 books at your disposal and you grow your library at 9% CAGR, after five year you'd have a 154 books. However, should you grow your library at 36% CAGR, then you'd have a staggering 465 books in your library, after the same period. That's the difference between reading 2.5 books a month and reading almost 8 books a month, and that difference is considerable.
Is Mobile taking over?
Considering how everything around us is becoming increasingly mobile, e.g., shopping, payments, entertainment etc., one need not be surprised to find the same development happening in Education.
However, some are of the opinion that Mobile Learning, as well as Online and Remote Learning, are not adequate replacements for being physically present to receive in-person instruction, where potential unclarities in the curriculum are dealt with, swiftly and decisively.
In essence, I agree, but I also think that this perspective misses the point. Considering our options as an either-or proposition, is somewhat directing the discussion away from what actually matters, which is increasing the availability of quality education.
Mobile Learning can be immensely valuable to learners and to appreciate that, it has to be viewed in the contexts of many possible scenarios, such as:
Using mobile to supplement the on-site learning environment for greater flexibility.
Offering a mobile alternative to those unable to attend on-site learning, and would otherwise miss out on the education.
Consider the benefits to learners when they can personalize the learning environment to their needs, and not be stuck at a desk the whole time. Also consider the potential reduction in stress and anxiety when they can bring parts of the learning environment with them, should they need to attend to other matters.
Also imagine the difference this would make for those unable to attend on-site classes due to other responsibilities such as a fulltime job. Mobile Learning might just be the piece that was missing for them to be able to attend online or remote courses, filling up idle time throughout their day, studying sporadically on their mobile devices.
Mobile Learning isn't just a necessary evil we have to put up with, rather, it's the ultimate Remote Learning Experience that we can help us increase the availability of quality education.
But what next?
Here I've tried to make the case for the importance of Mobile Learning, but it's very foundation, the mobile part, is currently undergoing a considerable structural transformation.
Mobile is growing from being just a miniature version of our home computer, i.e., allowing us to do everything we once used the laptop for, but while being away-from-keyboard, to it becoming a central part of the Ambient Computing Environment (ACE).
In this environment the Mobile Device's role can be described as the user's control pad for the ACE, giving us control over a number of different devices that range from our home and office devices such as speakers, displays and TV's, to our car's entertainment system, and even to our wearables such as headphones and watches.
This means that Mobile Learning is also advancing considerably, becoming more inclusive and more capable of delivering immersive learning experiences, especially when supplemented by Voice Technology, allowing us to communicate with these device using natural language, a much more natural and intuitive experience than the mouse and keyboard, the relics of console computing.
This development makes us very excited about the future, the very future we're building Atlas Primer for.