"The fates guide those who go willingly; those who do not, they drag" ~ Seneca
Learning 3.0 will be about harnessing the ubiquity of the mobile phone/handheld device and using it as an educational tool. Given the fact that many in the education ecosystem are finding the Learning 2.0 pill hard to swallow, it may seem a bit premature to start discussing Learning 3.0.
However, the future of learning has already arrived in the European Union, Africa and Southeast Asia, and if the United States doesn't act now we will be even further behind the rest of the world.
Another key indicator that the internet is trending towards a mobile experience is the move by media giants such as Yahoo!, Google, Disney Internet Group, Apple Computer, and Sony to provide more and more of their content on mobile devices.
The convergence of mobile and social technologies, on-demand content delivery, and early adoption of portable media devices by students provides academia with an opportunity to leverage these tools into learning environments that seem authentic to the digital natives filling the 21st Century classroom.
Clearly, the spread of web-based technology into both the cognitive and social spheres requires educators to reexamine and redefine our teaching and learning methods.
A few quick facts on mobile technology, Gen Y and education:
- A 2005 study conducted by the USA-based Kaiser Family Foundation found that, although 90% of teen online access occurs in the home, most students also have web access via mobile devices such as a mobile phone (39%), portable game (55%), or other web-enabled handheld device (13%). [link]
- Last year, 64 million votes were cast for American Idol contestants using cell phones, more votes than have been cast for any U.S. president. Kudos to News Corp/Fox Interactive Media for recognizing this trend and tapping into the love affair between Gen Y and their mobile technology. [link]
- Palm estimates that mobile and handheld devices for public schools will be a 300 million dollar market. A few progressive school districts in the USA have already started using mobile devices in the classroom. [link]
- Australia is emerging as a leader in mobile learning (mlearning). [link] [link]
- The National College of Ireland, University of Scotland and other European universities have already started experimenting and integrating mobile technologies into their classes. [link] [link]
- A recent study by the Irish National Teachers Organization (INTO) found that students are using their mobile phones for just about everything--except making phone calls.
- There are a myriad of new Mobile Social Software (MoSoSo) applications being developed, and the number is poised to explode. [link]
- Some developing countries, like Kenya, are bypassing the use of desktop computers all together and using handheld WI-FI devices and open source software to reduce the cost of education in rural areas. [link] [link]
- Mobile School is a Belgian non-profit organization who is using mobile technology to provide educational opportunities for homeless children. [link]
- Mobile phones are in the early phases of being used for student testing and assessment. [link]
- YouTube, the popular online video community, has also recently launched a service that allows users to upload video clips via their mobile phones, PDAs, or other wireless handheld devices.
- SparkNotes are now available for download on both the iPod (text and audio format) or via SparkMobile, a SMS version for mobile phones.
The combination of social interaction with opportunities for peer support and collaboration creates an interesting, engaging, stimulating, and intuitive learning environment for students. Effective course design will need to blend traditional pedagogy with the reality of the media hungry and mobile Gen Y learner.
At the 2006 International Consumer Electronic Show, Yahoo! CEO Terry Semel outlined the explosive growth of mobile technology. According to Semel (2006), there are 900 million personal computers in the world. But this number pales in comparison to the 2 billion mobile phones currently being used in the world.
Even more astounding is how mobile devices are increasingly being used as the primary way in which people connect to the Internet. In fact, Semel notes that 50% of the Internet users outside the US will most likely never use a personal computer to connect to the Internet. Rather, they will access information, community, and create content on the Internet via a mobile device.
In order to create a better learning environments designed for the digital learning styles of Generation Y, there is a need to use strategies and methods that support and foster motivation, collaboration, and interaction. The use of mobile devices are directly connected with the personal experiences and authentic use of technology students bring to the classroom.
The use of mobile technologies is growing and represents the next great frontier for learning. Increasingly we will continue to see academic and corporate research invest, design and launch new mobile applications, many of which can be used in a learning context.