Twenty years ago, mobile learning was unheard of. Ten years ago it was rare and often seen as a method of last resort. Now it seems like you can’t talk about education without hearing about it.
With wider adoption rates of mobile devices such as smart phones and tablets, people are embracing mobile learning more than ever before. Once frowned-upon, online college degrees are now available from some of the most prestigious schools, and many schools offer at least one degree with predominately online classes.
According to the Survey of Online Learning, in 2011, over six millions students and almost 1/3 of all higher education students took at least one online class.
As daily life becomes more and more reliant upon our mobile devices, it is no wonder that students are turning to mobile learning. Those who need to work in order to afford school no longer have to choose one or the other every semester; they are able to attend classes around their work schedule.
Additionally, mobile learning means students can complete courses wherever they happen to be, something that is increasingly important. In a time when email can be checked on the go, and many employers expect their employees to respond to email even after work hours, why shouldn’t education be available on the go as well?
K12 students are even joining in the mobile revolution. Many districts, as well as a few private companies, offer K12 students the ability to complete their schooling online, without ever having to attend a traditional school. Gone are the days of homeschooled children learning from their parents by day while the parents learn the lesson the night before. Online courses can supplement a home-schooling parent’s knowledge.
But why is it that tablets and smart phones are able to change education in a way laptops failed to? For one thing, people rarely leave the house without their phone. For another, tablets and smart phones are much more portable and convenient to use than laptops.
Laptops are difficult to use in small spaces and require a surface of some sort to place them on. Have you ever tried to use a laptop on an airplane? It can get very cramped. Alternately, smart phones and tablets are ideal for small spaces, and can easily be held in your hand while you work.
Tablets and smart phones also provide the distinct advantage of immediate access. With the push of a button, users are able to begin browsing the internet and completing lessons in seconds. While the few minutes it takes to turn on a computer may not seem like much, when you are in a hurry, it can seem like ages. Of course, many students still turn to laptops for long written assignments.
All of these factors have contributed to the rise of mobile learning. And for now, it is safe to say that mobile learning is here to stay.
Megan Veschio is the marketing coordinator for Inventive Technology/MediaCAST, a digital content management and video streaming solution for schools. Learn about using technology in education at www.mediacastblog.com or follow Inventive Technology/MediaCAST on Twitter – @MediaCASTstream.