Mobile learning implies that instruction takes place on the go – in fast moving cars, or on a roller coaster. In reality, it does not mean any of those things at all. Mobile Learning is what transpires in a learning process when information is launched and received in through proper, yet unconventional methods. The phrase in today’s world is linked to the idea that new technologies provide the perfect platform for learning as previous generations were linked to actual blackboards and film projectors. Using devices such as Smartphones, iPads and other tablets, and similar devices, mobile learning is inspired by new innovations in technology that have been forever connected to the classroom of everywhere. This is a place where students and teachers can interact, learn, and reflect – all away from the traditional learning spaces.
Learning takes place today in the scenario described above all the time. While there are concerns regarding this type of learning, supporters believe mobile devices as a learning platform engages students and excites the mind. Although there are benefits, others point out that Mobile Learning has a ways to go before it can be adopted on a large scale. Many believe Mobile Learning – which requires the purchase or acquisition through other means – of the devices. Not all students will have access to devices as these items tend to be expensive. And while there are examples of companies providing devices as part of a program, not all municipalities or classrooms can benefit in that way. For those who appear to oppose mobile learning, the equity of access to these devices remains a large concern. Will these students who are unable to afford such devices be left behind? Again? I hope not. This is a major concern for smart educators everywhere. These concerns should remain among the top concerns for any educator wishing to bring mobile learning to our schools.
While detractors exist, the potential instructional uses for these devices are great. Many in education instruct with these instruments in mind. However, these devices are tools. Tools that in properly trained hands can unlock virtues and gifts in previously talentless hands. Teachers must be willing to make changes and be aware of changes required in the evolving types of instruction to captivate the learners who hold the devices. Making changes to the curriculum must remain one of the primary goals of educators. Changing the types and focus of lesson plans and units of study to reflect the needs of learning with these devices is key. For example, lecturing for 40 minutes on a topic is no longer an option to reach these students who hold the devices. Changing up traditional styles of teaching, and incorporating inquiry-based learning in content instruction will lead to learners who play a more significant role in the acquisition of knowledge.
Also, there are areas such as assessments that are also due for a makeover. While summative assessments will always be with us, there are several ways to produce evaluative materials to judge a student’s progress through a range of material. As Emmen offers, there are several ways to provide feedback to learners and data to help instruction. Formative assessments differ from the summative type by being more informative than the other kind of assessments. Information for teachers and students can result from the use of online software like Socrative.com. These formative assessments focus on providing information that is relevant for future learning strategies. As Dodge states, “formative assessments — support learning during the learning process,” software like Socrative offers feedback to both teacher and student. These types of assessments have a dual purpose, providing data for the teachers with regards to instruction, whether to continue or return to specific topics to review materials as some students may not be not grasping key ideas. Likewise, the students gain from viewing the feedback and can then make determinations regarding the material: “do I need more study time on the content”, or “I can move on to the next topic.”
Finally, some companies like Virgin Atlantic are using wearable devices in the uniforms of flight attendants to improve customer experiences. Such technologies can inform about flyers’ names and other data. In addition, flight uniforms can be outfitted with LED name tags, and can offer even more lights – again on the uniforms – to be activated in times of emergencies. Finally, “Virgin Atlantic announced they will be using Google Glasses at the Upper-Class Wing at London Heathrow airport. Their purpose is to test how wearable technology to enhance passengers’ travel experiences.” These are advancements made for air travel in an industry that does not affect most of the world’s population. Perhaps in the future, such advancements can be made to assist in educational aims.
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