Mobile Learning Can Provide Solutions to Top 5 Issues of Education (#mlearning)
A study by NTT DOCOMO and GSMA involving 3,528 children ages 8 to 18 and their parents in Paraguay, Japan, India and Egypt found 70% of children use mobile phones. Around 25% of children send six or more text messages per day by age 10 , and about 40% access the internet through their mobile phones. As many as 80% Indian children make at least six phone calls every day. In Japan, four in five 18-year-olds use the mobile internet. Such children are likely to easily adopt mEducation products. They are already familiar with internet forums that promote collaboration between classmates. Many are as comfortable accessing educational material through tablets and smartphones as they are with paper books.
Mobile technology is increasingly helping resolve limitations of education in two areas: access and personalization. Emerging mEducation solutions also illustrate the power of mobile technology in addressing some of the specific challenges affecting the quality and effectiveness of education for learners.
mEducation simplifies access to education Emerging mEducation solutions are improving access to education in two ways:
- Wider geographic reach: Mobile networks cover almost 90% of the global population today, creating an unprecedented platform to increase the availability of education. mEducation can enable learners worldwide to access locally and globally relevant content–and teachers anywhere. For example, mEducation solutions already allow thousands of people in China, Bangladesh, South Korea and Indonesia to learn English through SMS and audio lessons, despite limited local availability of qualified teachers.
- Real-time access and independence: mEducation makes it convenient to access educational solutions exactly when required – overcoming time and space constraints of traditional classroom environments. For example, in Canada, University of Waterloo teachers deliver lessons through podcasts that students can access at any time, anywhere—and interact with students via text messages, allowing them to learn at an independent pace. Meanwhile, an online education company known as Megastudy offers distance tutoring services in South Korea, connecting one master teacher with thousands of students at a time through on-demand video tuition.
Teachers can use mobile technologies to personalize education for individual learners One-to-many education delivery approaches cater to the group mean, reducing the relevance of education for several learners. Mobile technology can change that by:
- Customization: Students have their own learning styles and triggers, learning at their own pace. Teachers are often unable to constantly track and respond to these differences in learning styles and pace. Mobile technology can enable real-time data collection through simple wireless-based formative assessments. This helps teachers customize instruction inside and outside the class for each student. For example, interactive learning solutions offered by DreamBox Learning allow differentiated instruction by adjusting difficulty levels, the number and type of hints, etc., for students based on tracking responses to several different questions.
- Collaboration: Students often better understand and apply concepts in discussion with peer classmates. Traditional classroom environments often do not allow this, especially with large class sizes or when students live far from one another. With mobile technology, students can source or create their own content, share it with peers, share different learning paths and evolve better answers through collaboration. An example of this is an mEducation project at the Centre for Teaching and Learning Innovation, Auckland, New Zealand, where students use mobile technology to blog their assignment posts from any location. When students shared the test results of their snow-kite harness designs live from the snowfields of Queenstown, they received live comments from professors and classmates in Auckland.
mEducation can address several challenges with the existing educational system As players across the education landscape explore ways to improve education outcomes through mobile technology, they can help overcome challenges affecting education systems in both developing and developed countries. Exhibit 1 shows a five-step model of the education delivery process.
Greater use of mEducation can help educators and learners overcome challenges in each of the five steps. These issues apply to varying degrees across the developed and developing world. While most developing regions are focusing on ensuring access to basic education and improving teacher quality, developed regions strive to improve student engagement and customize education to each learner. mEducation could provide tangible solutions to these issues.
- Lack of access to high-quality and relevant content: Enabling and facilitating access to education is a key challenge in education today. For example, almost 70 million children ages 6 to 12 are not enrolled in schools, 60 million of them in developing countries. Access to education remains a critical problem for reasons ranging from insufficient school coverage and low household incomes to limitations in the quality of locally available materials. The widespread penetration of mobile networks offers a powerful platform to improve access to relevant content.
- Undertrained teachers: Preparing effective teaching strategies and lesson plans is a core responsibility of educators. Undertrained educators—a common challenge in developing regions— often cannot meaningfully contribute. Mobile technology is already providing to access many dedicated online resources to help educators share best practices. MIT’s Educational Collaboration Space (ECS) and National College for School Leadership in the UK are just two examples.
- Lack of tailored approaches: Even the most developed school systems can do more to engage learners. Teachers would have far greater impact if they could adapt their teaching styles to the needs and preferences of each learner, but this is impractical in many classroom environments. Richer, more interactive formats and content tailored to individual learning styles increase engagement levels to help students understand better. Aula 365, a web-based solution offered by Telefonica in Spain, allows students to choose from a range of instructional media such as video and graphics to learn a given lesson—improving understanding and engagement and therefore retention.
- Infrequent evaluation and feedback: Regular assessments during the learning process help educators to evaluate student understanding, and determine where specifically they require support and how to provide it. Since more traditional assessments tend to be time-consuming, teachers often find it difficult to cope with the dual pressures of teaching and assessment for large classes. For example, a 2008 study of Chinese teachers2 reported that the pressure of completing basic teaching tasks and large class sizes prevented them from conducting formative assessments. mEducation solutions can offer a powerful solution to this. For example, teachers in New Mexico use Wireless Generation’s mCLASS® handheld computer-based solutions to conduct frequent formative assessments.
- Lack of data and analytics to benchmark student performance: Most education systems compare student performance against local or national standards and benchmarks. mEducation could give educators the ability to confidentially track and benchmark student performance across multiple parameters, such as subject or student history, to provide a far richer assessment of student performance. Recently, New Jersey’s Hunterdon County Educational Services Commission selected LinkIt to implement a strategic data-driven system to benchmark student performance on a district- wide basis. Over time, benchmarks can be provided at an individual, classroom, school, district, national or global level.
As learners, educators and the market warm up to its potential, we are rapidly approaching a tipping point for mEducation. Mobile technology will dramatically change the way education is delivered—and improve educational outcomes.
The information of this article comes from a report created by GSMA, read the full report here.