In our technological age, we’re using many devices and tools to better train and educate workers. One of the tools being utilized today is mobile learning. It’s one of the top trends being used for eLearning this year. While there are some benefits to using mobile learning, there are also a few drawbacks as well. It’s important to understand the advantages and disadvantages before deciding to use this style of learning. Before getting into them, it’s helpful to know what mobile learning is first.
What is mobile learning?
Mobile learning refers to any teaching and learning that occurs through using a mobile device and platform. Examples of mobile learning devices include tablets, laptops, and mobile phones. There are a variety of platforms constantly developed for mobile learning devices, such as video players or messaging services that keep students and teachers connected. The use of mobile learning has been around since the early 2000’s. It’s unsurprising that it’s developed as a tool for training and education given the rise of technology in our lives.
When the personal computer was introduced, it began an increasing push towards students and teachers using electronics as a part of the learning and teaching experience. Over the years since the personal computer, portable devices became more of a popular option. As a result, students were studying their presentations on a tablet, taking multiple choice quizzes on a tablet, and watching instructional videos. Mobile devices have even opened the opportunity for students to join online open courses with many other students around the world.
The Advantages of Mobile Learning
Perhaps the top advantage of mobile learning is that students are not confined to a set schedule or a classroom to be able to learn. The same goes for teachers. Mobile learning allows for students to log into a classroom at their own convenience and go through course materials or take tests. Additionally, teachers can communicate with students on the go to help clear their doubts, communicate the student’s progress to the parents, and administer tests. With learning not being confined to a physical location or specific time, students can learn at a pace that works best for them. Letting students engage voluntarily on their own terms helps them to feel empowered by the learning process.
Learning adapted to Millennials
A large portion of today’s workplace is made up of Millennials. Employees of this generation have grown up around technology and are familiar with how to use it in their daily lives. They have a comfort with engaging with digital mediums, platforms, and devices to make their work go easier and better. Mobile learning fits with the way millennials think and work. When training and education is made more accessible to them through this style of learning, it prepares them better to enter the workforce.
Diverse Methodologies of Teaching
Mobile learning can work well with a wide variety of modern teaching methodologies. In particular, it works well with visual learning, since it supports images, video, and audio. The fast paced, visual graphics are more engaging to students in a classroom. Including voice over that explains the graphics can add further engagement. In my work as a voice artist, I read scripts in a tone that’s engaging, while also making sure my delivery is appropriate. Additionally, mobile learning facilitates the use of experiential learning and dynamic content. Students receive cutting-edge teaching and don’t have to just rely on outdated teaching methods that may be less effective.
Disadvantages of Mobile Learning
Increased reliance on technology
While there’s usefulness in students using digital tools for learning, one downside is they don’t gain as many older skills that don’t rely on technology. One example of older skills students won’t get as much familiarity with is trade skills. These include woodworking, arts and crafts, and other related trades. It’s a serious loss because some types of skills are beginning to die out, and as a result, they’re becoming more expensive in the marketplace.
Screen time becoming addictive
Another disadvantage of mobile learning is that it increases the amount of screen time that a student has in one day. As a result of screens being required to do mobile learning, it makes it more challenging to reduce the amount of time a young person is staring at their computer, tablet, phone or TV screen. It’s important for educators to be aware that screen time can become habit-forming, and in more serious cases, eventually become addictive. It’s because of the addictiveness of screen time that mobile learning needs to be regulated through keeping in mind the amount of time a student is spending in front of a screen outside of learning.
Distracted learning affecting recall
Mobile learning can also have a negative impact on recall and retention of material. A student may open their device to learn material, but not long after, end up on social media websites or playing video games. The distraction takes time away from studying and practicing the material more in order to recall it later. Studies show that taking a pen and paper, and writing down notes, helps a student recall the information they learned better. It’s necessary that mobile learning is built in a way that addresses the problem of distracted learning.
As technology continues to advance, mobile learning is increasingly becoming the primary option for learning in schools and workplaces. There are advantages to this trend that will make learning more effective. Nonetheless, there are also disadvantages that will have to be continually worked on in order to maintain a successful learning experience.