Potential of Cost-Effective Mobile Learning in Resource and Bandwidth Constrained Environments

Potential of Cost-Effective Mobile Learning in Resource and Bandwidth Constrained Environments

Michael P.J. Mahenge (Sokoine University of Agriculture, Centre for Information and Communication Technology, Tanzania)
DOI: 10.4018/IJICTHD.2017010101
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E-learning has received significant research attention over years in order to ensure reliability, availability and cost-effectiveness through Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs). The evolvement of mobile computing devices especially smartphones brings prospects in overcoming the inherent limitations of the Internet when accessing contents on web. Among the potential opportunity revealed includes the ability to work offline. Therefore, this study aims at analyzing the existing online and offline electronic-learning systems in order to explore the uniqueness, technical problems and opportunities in this field. Similarly, this study proposes synchronization and caching solution for cost-effective electronic-learning content delivery. The proposed approach synchronizes contents from the remote servers to local database in mobile computing devices for offline use. It therefore contributes to reliability, cost-effectiveness, timely and increase motivation in learning activities.
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Several previous studies proposed solutions for supporting both online and offline delivery of learning content. However, there are still considerable gaps to be addressed in order to improve efficiency of electronic-learning systems as well as availability of contents. The proposed solutions include; Trifonova et al., (2004, 2006) proposed Mobile ELDIT to support both online and offline content delivery. The proposed system can work offline by utilizing a caching proxy. However, the main shortcoming is a single point of failure due to the fact that all data came through the proxy server, if this server was compromised all users connected to such server are subjected to the risk of running out of service and information / data theft. Royyana et al., (2010) proposed offline web application and quiz synchronization for electronic-learning activities to support offline web application for Moodle task/assignment. One technical problem is the implementation of quiz point where the students with Wi-Fi capability phones can download the quizzes and store in their mobile phone memory. The Quiz engine performance depends upon the number of questions in the quiz as a result the time to display the first question is proportional to the number of questions in the quiz likewise memory requirement is directly proportional to the number of questions in the quiz. But also, the proposed system requires continuous Internet connection during downloading. Jordi et al., (2012) proposed Moodbile; the android application that supports both online and offline accessibility by storing offline contents in memory cache. However, synchronization functionality was not implemented. The proposed systems require continuous and reliable Internet connection during downloading of contents to memory cache as a result they favour learning environment with sufficient resources and reliable Internet connectivity.

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