Friday, 11 January 2008

Mobile Learning

Recently the Mobile Data Association were asked for an opinion piece on Mobile Learning. As a result I worked with my fellow director Ed Williams on the following article.

Mobile Learning- does it have a place in a modern education system.

Over the last decade there has been a steady but slow increase in the number of students attaining 5 or more grade A to C GCSC’s, the current target set by the government is 60% by the end of 2008. It is concerning that the result difference between deprived areas and affluent areas are huge 44% in the poorest area’s compared to 66.3% in affluent areas. Whilst improvement in education is important in all regions the government must focus on improving the education process in deprived area’s.

So how can technology help improve our children’s education and compliment our educational system?

Well it already is, in some cases, where children have access to a computer at home they can access a range of educational based web sites and peer to peer messaging systems such as Microsoft Messenger to help them with the challenge of homework. The BBC Bytesize website being probably the best example for technology based education. The use of computers in schools have become pretty much a standard. As a result any child not having access to a computer and broadband at home is significantly disadvantaged.

Government has long acknowledged is the role that technology can play in education. Therefore ensuring ‘education is for all’ becomes an imperative in a modern technology based society. To ensure no one is disadvantaged requires creative solutions from government, to ensure that technology is available to all. Potentially this is where mobile technology can assist, wireless enabled PDA’s and smartphones could bridge the gap bringing low cost Internet access, web browsing, and e-learning applications to ALL. Internet connectivity could be delivered by either public wireless LAN (government wireless cities programme) or by a subsidised wireless broadband from a cellular network provider.

Will mobile technology deliver a favourable e-learning experience?

Children in Britain today have grown up surrounded by technology, and as such this makes them critical of technology that fails to deliver. Most children will have a mobile phone from around the age of 10; they will be familiar with the Internet and video game boxes. This means that if the learning experience is rich, interactive, intuitive, compelling and entertaining, children will be eager to use. This has recently been proved by Nintendo with their potable DS gaming platform, they have developed a range of challenging but entertaining games focused around ‘Brain Training’ these have proven very popular with children and adults.

Harnessing this new wave of entertaining educational approach with wireless technology means we can extend and enhance, perhaps introducing virtual classrooms, collaborative knowledge sharing between students and teachers, between schools and even between countries are easy to set up. All of which makes education cool, exciting but more importantly compelling.

Mobile technology also has other major advantages; mobile data platforms allow learning to happen where schools or teachers are not present. It allows teachers in one school (or country) to remotely tutor others bridging skilled teacher shortages. And it allows us to bring education to the masses quicker than we can build schools or train teachers.
Mobile data platforms connected to mobile data devices will undoubtedly bring education in line with today’s businesses – where messaging and communications have become king, where global customers and supply chains are becoming the norm and where the ability to collaborate and communicate, anytime anywhere is paramount.

The model for 21st century education still has a long way to develop, but at least the sign posts are becoming clearer.

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