How to Maximize the Benefits of Mobile Learning – Analytics Insight

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Today, most people access the internet mainly via their smartphones – and it is more common for households to have multiple mobile devices but only one or two computers. That’s why mobile learning, or m-learning, has come to play an essential role in education. Students not only get access to additional learning materials, but educators can gamify learning experiences. 
In addition, mobile devices are an excellent tool for remote learning, especially for low-income students and children in rural areas, where phones are much more accessible than computers. In 2021, 15 billion smartphones were circulating globally, and the smartphone penetration was around 78% worldwide.
However, mobile phones are also often perceived as disruptive during classes. Hence, if m-learning should help with children’s education, governments and school districts need to know about the correct usage of mobile phones.
So, what are the benefits of m-learning, and what do educators need to consider when using mobile devices for teaching children?
 
There are many benefits of using mobile devices to impart the curriculum. Firstly, as they are portable, students can access classroom content anywhere, at any time – asynchronously. This plays in the hands of the ongoing personalization trend in education. As this research project by RAND shows, learning resources, and opportunities tailored to students’ needs positively impact student performance.
Promoting m-learning is an attractive opportunity for school districts, as mobile devices are generally cheaper than computers – and most kids already have one at home. Teachers can, for example, start with introducing students to applications like Google Drive and Google Meet that allow groups to meet online, discuss questions about their homework, play games for the improved learning journeys, access multimedia content, and share results among them.
However, these benefits don’t necessarily make m-learning better than other methods. If teachers are not adequately trained in the dynamics of mobile learning, tasks performed with the phone might not align with the overall educational program’s purpose or objective. Each technology used must be embedded in the school’s overall technology curriculum, and teachers need to relate technology use with the subject matter, like Math, Languages, and so on.
Mobile devices can also become an obstacle in the learning process, as they offer a lot of distractions. Whether it’s tablets or mobile phones, it’s very likely that along with the learning platform, other apps like social media and video games are only one click away. Scheduling firm plays and learning times will help educators to reduce students’ misuse of their phones.
Finally, security is another worthwhile consideration. Families and educators are responsible for establishing limits and reinforcing their kids the importance of being responsible online with their personal information and the sites they visit. 
M-learning requires consideration, planning, and training educators not to affect a student’s performance. Here are some best practices.
 
The first step to maximize the benefits of m-learning is to build a clear curriculum. This curriculums’ goal is to create a seamless integration of the devices with the learning objectives. Different governments and international organizations such as UNESCO frequently publish guidelines that can be useful when outlining the strategy. 
Secondly, teachers need to educate themselves constantly to learn about the latest tools and content forms they can use in their teaching. That’s why it is indispensable for educators to have the curiosity to learn in the first place. Regularly participating in cross-school seminars and training is a good way to engage teachers with new learning methods and resolve their questions or doubts.
 
The first and foremost requirement for effective m-learning is giving access to the necessary tools for communicating fast and effectively. A shared communication system (that shouldn’t be phone numbers due to privacy concerns), such as Microsoft Teams or digital classrooms, is a must. The application must be installed on all devices, and teachers need to ensure equal access for all students. Further, when educators are developing content or materials, they need to keep in mind that children will access it through their mobile devices – so using a QR code or a link is the best way to share materials with students. 
Compared to computers, consuming content via smartphones and tablets feels and plays out differently. E-learning is often about long, structured lectures balanced with class-wide discussions. In contrast, m-learning requires more easily digestible material and shorter learning sessions to avoid looking at a small screen for hours on end.
Furthermore, activities that integrate mobile devices should be creative to maintain the students’ motivation. At best, students always interact with the real world—for example, doing a scavenger hunt around the school premises where they scan QR codes to get to the next step. This way, educators train multiple skills simultaneously, from problem-solving to team communication to understanding the connection between the digital and the physical.
 
Educators have to keep in mind that m-learning won’t become the panacea to all of their problems.  Mobile learning tools are meant to enable collaboration and create connections between kids. So, teachers and families need to ensure that students strike a balance between time spent in front of screens and time off, to prevent kids from feeling more isolated or facing concentration issues. 
Finally, it is worth mentioning that not all school subjects or activities are fit for mobile devices (like sports, arts, or computer classes on programming and software that require a different kind of dynamic). In the end, mobile learning will not replace education as we know it, but it can become a precious tool that will expand and enhance learning—and allow for better inclusion of all students.
 
Hugo Aguirre, Development and Education Director of TBox
 

 
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Analytics Insight is an influential platform dedicated to insights, trends, and opinions from the world of data-driven technologies. It monitors developments, recognition, and achievements made by Artificial Intelligence, Big Data and Analytics companies across the globe.
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