The Cooney Mobile Learning Study outlines some of the key opportunities for mobile learning:
Encourage "anywhere, anytime" learning
Reach Underserved children
Improve 21st Century Social Interactions
Fit with Learning Environments
Enable a personalize Learning Experience
The Cooney study cites the need to create a Digital Teachers Corps to provide educators with the training
and skills to integrate mlearning
activities into the classroom. While
I agree, I would also say that school administrators, both at the
school and district level, need to provide the leadership, support and
physical infrastructure required to make mlearning (mobile learning) a reality.
When I was working at Yahoo!
on the Yahoo! Teachers project
, I had the opportunity to spend the summer
teaching educators around the country how to use web technologies in their classroom.
Time and time again I heard from teachers that their efforts to
integrate technology into their classroom are stifled by district
filtering policies and a lack of technological resources. Many times
teachers get labeled, especially when it comes to technology, as
unwilling to learn how to use new technologies.
While that may have been true a decade ago, almost every educator I
met expressed concern that schools were working on an outdated model
and that they recognized that the way kids learn has drastically
They also expressed that there is a severe lack of
professional development opportunities and support from district, state
and federal administrators to provide leadership and change in their
Since they work on the frontline, we also need to include
teachers in this discussion. There is often a disconnect between theory cooked up by policy wonks
and the reality of the classroom.
One of the other areas of concern, not just for mobile learning, is the
lack of good, quality educational content. It's great if we outfit kids with an Apple iPhone
or Palm Pre
, but then what? When we talk
about mobile learning we often focus just on the hardware and
Quality educational content is often left out of the
equation. The OpenCourseWare movement
is helping fill this void in the
higher education space, but the K-12 space suffers from a real lack of
appropriate, relevant and quality content. In addition to the
technology, we need to develop a repository of open content materials
for our K-12 students, teachers and parents.
Finally, in addition to educating teachers, administrators and other
members of the education ecosystem, it's vital that we also educate
parents on the benefits of mobile learning. Many teachers are still
trying to convince parents that the Internet is a relevant learning
tool, that blogging has educational merits and that Wikipedia is a
credible source of information.
Mobile Phones, Learning & Gen Y
For the most part, colleges and K-12 are just
beginning realize the potential of mobile technology to improve the
quality of student learning. In order to meet their students changing
expectations and digital learning styles, instructors need to be
provided with professional development opportunities to experiment with
current and emerging web-based technologies.
Clearly, the spread of mobile
technology into both the cognitive and social spheres requires
educators to reexamine and redefine our teaching and learning methods. 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
At the 2006
International Consumer Electronic Show, Yahoo! CEO Terry Semel outlined
the explosive growth of mobile technology. According to Semel,
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.
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.
3.0 will be about harnessing the ubiquity of the mobile phone/handheld
device and using it as an educational tool. 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%).
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 study by the Irish National Teachers Organization (INTO) found that students are using their mobile phones for just about everything--except making phone calls.
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]
the popular online video community, has an educational channel that
allows educational institutions 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.
iTunesU & iPhone Apps have allowed an unprecedented amount of
educational content, learning games, video & applications in the
hands of students & educators.
The Cooney research is a landmark study that I hope will move both the
education technology and mobile learning discussion forward. Perhaps
the release of this study, an education technology friendly president and
education secretary is creating a "perfect storm" for real change to
take place in our education system.
As a nation, we can no longer afford to sit back and watch
schools in the U.K., Australia and Africa move forward while we
continue to model our schools on an outdated agrarian, 18th Century
Benefits of this learning space for the students are threefold:
potential for maximum participation (all can be posting
simultaneously), increased interest (authentic use of technology, so
little technical advice or support is needed), and student motivation
was noticeable and achieved possibly because of the increased peer
feedback and collaboration.
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.
The future is here. It's time we act.