Quality Education for Children, Youth, and Adults through Mobile Learning

Quality Education for Children, Youth, and Adults through Mobile Learning

Santosh Kumar Mishra (S.N.D.T. Women’s University, India)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-2985-1.ch013
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Abstract

Mobile learning or m-learning is viewed as a useful component of the flexible learning model. Learners’ everyday uses of mobile phones and other devices such as games consoles, which can also be used for learning, are now major drivers for the rapid uptake of mobile learning throughout the world. Even so, there are a multitude of challenges faced when introducing and implementing m-learning. This chapter explores ways in which mobile-supported learning can contribute to the global commitment to provide quality education for children, youth, and adults, as expressed in the goals of Education for All (EFA). The chapter concludes that mobile learning is part of a new learning landscape created by the availability of technologies supporting flexible, accessible, and personalized education.
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Introduction

Mobile learning or m-learning (defined as “learning that happens when the learner takes advantage of the learning opportunities offered by mobile technologies”) is viewed as a useful component of the flexible learning model. It is part of a new learning landscape created by the availability of technologies supporting flexible, accessible, personalized education. Learners’ everyday uses of mobile phones and other devices such as games consoles, which can also be used for learning, are now major drivers for the rapid uptake of mobile learning throughout the world. Crucially, mobile learning can contribute to the global commitment to provide quality education for children, youth, and adults, as expressed in the goals of Education for All (EFA).

While the benefits of m-learning are growing, there remains a need for better understanding of the impact and role of Information Communication Technologies (ICT)-enabled education. It is necessary to build awareness among national and local government policymakers and rural communities in order to comprehend the benefits that m-learning can provide and, most importantly, address the inequality in access to education and to ICT. When examining m-learning, several important questions should be considered:

  • What kind of technological tools are we talking about?

  • What kind of learning can take place with these devices?

  • Can m-learning bring cost-effective, relevant learning opportunities to the poor and to those in rural areas?

  • Who can use which tools and for which educational purposes?

The objective of this chapter is to give an insight into the ways in which mobile-supported learning can contribute to the global commitment to provide quality education for children, youth and adults, as expressed in the goals of Education for All (EFA). In particular, it addresses, with appropriate examples and illustrations, the issues of: equitable access to education; quality of learning resources; literacy; numeracy; essential life skills, and lifelong learning. Opportunities for girls and women are highlighted. Suggestions and recommendations are made regarding strategies for the introduction and sustainability of mobile learning.

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Definition And Scope Of Mobile Learning

Mobile learning is the ability to obtain or provide educational content on personal pocket devices such as PDAs, smartphones, and mobile phones. Educational content refers to digital learning assets which include any form of content or media made available on a personal device. It is widely accepted that the key to mobile learning lies in taking advantage of the learning opportunities offered by mobile technologies, and that this typically happens when learners are not at a fixed, predetermined location, so that they are able to engage in situated learning and make use of context-specific resources. Mobile learning also enables learners to move seamlessly across different settings and to connect up learning in different locations.

Mobile learning needs to be understood as an emerging repertoire of learning and teaching practices rooted in the belief that interaction and collaboration within a traditional classroom are often not as effective as they could be. Mobile learning has been described as ‘disruptive’ and ‘paradigm-shifting,’ particularly when its focus is on learning outside traditional classrooms or overcoming the perceived inadequacies of existing curricula and forms of assessment. Mobile learning emphasizes integration of learning with life and work, so that education is no longer seen as a separate activity that has to take place in a school, university or other establishment. This creates tensions between traditional education, focused on a set curriculum and individual attainment, and mobile learning, which is constructed around learners’ interests and needs in relation to diverse situations and contexts.

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