It’s being widely acknowledged that mobile devices are poised to replace many traditional computing activities. All indications are that access to the Internet through mobile and wireless devices will soon outpace access through desktop devices by 2014 (Morgan Stanley).
Yet we are still seeing a lot of “watching and waiting” from educational institutions and enterprises when it comes to implementing mobile technologies for learning.
While there is an understandable reason in ensuring success of established technologies before adopting, it’s also true that complications arise when the audience begins to use this same technology to work, play, and learn without waiting for a top-down influence.
Mobile technology is a perfect example of this happening; the technology is growing in a rapid manner and we are seeing two main camps:
• Those looking for validity and the “perfect” opportunity
• The “adopters” who are diving in
Last year, there were several well-publicized examples of institutions implementing mobile learning, especially with the arrival of tablets. Along with these developments, the mobile learning marketplace has seen several commercial options which facilitate m-learning implementation with minimal risk of capital.
However when it comes to the majority, the attitude to devices in school and on campus is still largely one of waiting for acceptance.
Learners already on-the-go
On the flip side, students are already doing a lot to create their own personal learning experience either by sharing notes using online tools, collaborating through social media with like-minded learners or most recently, downloading educational apps.
App stores have become a fabulous conduit for non-traditional educational tools to reach learners, and lately, many traditional publishers have also started to participate.
While a lot of these applications and tools are of relevance, (e.g. learning material for test prep), one of the key missing pieces in mobile learning is the absence of validated educational resources that are a part of school or college curriculum. This is happening largely due to the hesitation on the part of institutions to disperse their educational content via mobile devices, forcing students to look to other sources. Besides illegal digitization, this could also result in unmonitored circulation of material which could be incorrect or outdated.
An exception to this rule is the availability of publisher notes for a specific book. Already student usage of these applications when available has been very pervasive and popular.
While many of these tools are being used in an ad hoc manner, the fact that students are driving their learning initiatives provides us with ample evidence of the tremendous opportunity to deliver validated and educator-driven content on to these platforms.
There is no right or wrong in choosing between immediate adoption of mobile learning or waiting for validation. But it is essential to be cognizant that even with the ground beneath our feet still shifting, users are incorporating mobile learning with success.
The call to action should therefore be to start implementing, using the slew of opportunities that have presented themselves over the past 12-18 months. In a future that is obviously more and more mobile device-driven, waiting for things to settle, may be akin to missing the train completely.