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With the advent of PCs, then the Internet, and then the near ubiquity of cellular phones in just a very few short years, it was not long until some bright person realized the cross- pollination potential of these disparate technologies. Thus mobile learning was born.
With cellular technology powering hand-held access, users discovered they could do more than just talk on their phones and send text messages – they could access the Web and view websites, which soon were being designed to offer a variant design for cell phones and their smaller screens and more limited capabilities. In a feat that seemed oddly counter-intuitive, users were willing and even began to choose to access the Internet from a perspective of convenience rather than from sophistication and complexity. Much in the same way that vinyl records gave way to the more compact CD format despite surrendering visual artwork appeal, and in the same way that many if not most of today’s young people listen to music using the tiny speaker systems built into their laptops or via ear plugs instead of with large and loud, complex speaker systems, Internet users traded the larger visual displays and functionality of PCs for the convenient on-the-go access of the Web via their smart phones, etc.
Like all good capitalistic ventures, once the need was identified then the marketplace adapted – soon smart phones and Androids, etc. began to feature applications that enabled their phones to do things only their computers could have done previously, and then some. Navigational apps, voice and image and sound recognition apps, even mobile-enabled websites that were specially designed to function on mobile phones began to be developed to accommodate this new market segment. The time was ripe for mobile learning in earnest.
Today there are three main forms of mobile learning being practiced. The Web model of mobile learning requires “students” of all types to access blogs and websites via their hand-held device. Learning through the reading of website content, 3D simulations, the watching of videos…these are all examples of mobile learning using the Internet and websites as the main tools. In the App model of mobile learning, users download apps or applications – basically, software programs designed for mobile devices – that provide a very specific function such as a foreign language exercise, mathematics flashcards or a visual logic exercise for learning and development. The use of graphic QR codes to access apps for various exercises is another example of an evolving technology used to speed- up processes and procedures. The cellular model of mobile learning incorporates the use of the cell phone’s basic features for a learning exercise. “Telephony” functions such as listening to audio broadcast messages or engaging in text message-based testing procedures are examples of cellular mobile learning.
With the proliferation of the Internet to all corners of the world and the relative lack of expense for cellular phones, expect mobile learning to continue to grow in popularity and use. Options for phone-based and tablet-based learning will continue to expand and be offered by more and more companies, with some businesses presenting all their educational resources via this milieu especially for younger, tech-enabled workers.
Designing Digitally, Inc. offers eLearning development and mobile learning development services for smart companies with their eyes upon the future. How can we help your business to become more agile and efficient in the 21 st century? Contact us and we’ll be glad to tell you more.