Information and communication technology has revolutionized the boundaries of education. The advent of wireless networks and mobile communications together with other computing devices have presented new opportunities and means by which students can access information in class and how they can communicate with teachers and their fellow students. This redefinition of education by mobile technology presents various challenges for students and teachers.
This is because it is not the objective of education to incorporate technology just for the sake but to develop meaningful learning experience for students. Mobile technology is one of the important and indispensable parts of our world.
It has revolutionized how individuals interact and how they can access information. Mobile technology implies that technology which is portable and convenient. The integration of the use of mobile technology and the learning management systems in learning institutions is important and necessary (Computing Community Consortium, 2010).
Mobile learning is a new phenomenon that has been necessitated by the advancement in modern technology that can support personalized and flexible learning. Mobile phone has the potential to contribute towards the commitment by the global community to provide quality education for all. Various forms of mobile technologies include laptop computers, cell phones, global positioning systems, palmtop computers and Personal digital assistants.
Personal digital assistants and cell phones are the widely used form of mobile technologies to enhance mobile learning; cell phones link students with teachers, and fellow students. The use of a cell phone is instrumental in rescheduling classes, rearranging meetings and forwarding of assignment data as well as the coordination of studies (Katz, n.d.).
Mobile learning implies the use of mobile technology to access information and learning resources from any location at any time. It gives learners control over what they wish to learn and at what time and location (Ally, 2009).
Strengths and Weaknesses of mobile technology in education
The primary benefit of using mobile technology is that it has made it easy to reach out to those people who are in remote or rural places where there are no schools, teachers or libraries. In this scenario, mobile technology can be instrumental in the delivery of learning and transmission of information.
Mobile technology has enhanced access to education: the use of mobile technology has led to increase in the access to education opportunities by a majority of the population. It has furthermore improved the relevance and the quality of education. The availability and the access to mobile technology enhance the ease with which students can access information. Mobile technology has led to the extension of educational services to marginalized and vulnerable segment of the population.
Through mobile technology, learning materials is made accessible to a large group of an audience which can be realized through podcasts, e-books and mobile applications, which can be seen by other students. Mobile technology can cater for disadvantaged groups by providing opportunities for them to better their life chances. It converts geographically alienated learners into a resourceful group by inculcating knowledge and skills unto them (Nicholson, 2005).
With mobile technology, geographical distance is no longer a major issue in obtaining or accessing education opportunities. Consequently, it is no longer necessary for teachers and the students to be in the same location due to mobile technology like teleconferencing and distance learning, which facilitate synchronized learning.
Mobile phones enable students to acquire learning skills at their own pace. Learning by use of mobile phone provides a particular degree of privacy, which is often lacking when students use shared computer facilities or when they depend on another individual’s computer.
Mobile learning also ensures relevance in authentic study requirements. Mobile technology can cater for the extra learning interests of the students beyond what is learned in class by allowing the student to access additional learning materials. Its use has also inculcated the students to handheld devices, which are instrumental in everyday life hence enhancing the employability and work practices for the students.
Supporting vital communication: use of mobile phone provides learners with an opportunity to launch immediate feedback about their learning experiences. Immediate feedback facilitates better assessment and the diagnosis of the learning difficulties that they might encounter at the cause of their studies. Social networks and personal guidance, which are featured in the mobile devices can provide psychological support, especially to the students who are at risk of dropping out of school.
The use of mobile has also enhanced the quality of education: by use of it, teachers and students are in a better position to provide and access quality educational content. Mobile technology facilitates interactive learning. It can revitalize teaching curriculum, teaching methods and enhanced feedback measures. It supports student retention and transition (Druin, 2009).
There are a lot of challenges that are experienced in the implementation of the use of mobile technology in the education curriculum. Rolling mobile technology requires advanced infra structural development, which can be difficult to procure.
Management obstacles: learning institutions face the problem of convincing the educators and education authorities that the use of mobile technology is a viable option for imparting knowledge. Education providers are faced with the problem of resentment and the fear of losing control of the learners. There is also uncertainty concerning the digital content rights which may inhibit the production of digital-friendly content.
Competence challenge: teachers and educators are faced with a deficiency of competencies that are needed to produce mobile learning opportunities for students. Teachers and the students may be well informed on the functional and operational of mobile devices in general but not as learning accompaniments. The teachers, therefore, may not be competent enough to support learners who require real-life learning and those with huge expectations on mobile learning.
Usability challenges: several operational devices of mobile technology may impede its usability as an effective learning device. Charging the mobile device may take long time while its size of the screen may limit such learning activities like reading. The cost of connectivity has been identified as a barrier to its widespread use for learning. Consequently, various environmental factors like sunshine and rain can negatively impact on its utility for outdoor learning (Crestani, Dunlop & Mizzaro, 2004).
Geographical and demographic constraints: most broadband technologies that use telephone lines and cable internet may not be available in areas that are sparsely populated. Satellite broadband, though effective and widely available, is the most expensive and hence the majority of the population cannot afford it. These constraints might impede the accessibility to the internet by rural population hence rendering mobile technology an ineffective tool of providing education.
Inherent consequences of the use of mobile devices in education: use of mobile technology can compromise human relationships. Arbitrary use of mobile phones can compromise individual privacy and personal security.
Furthermore, mobile technology learning may be expensive and might require financial investment and training for manpower. There is also the perception that the use of mere nuggets and gadgets to impart knowledge amounts to trivializing of education since the use the gadgets alienate the teacher from the students (UNESCO, 2010).
The implication of using mobile technology in education
Most of the schools prohibit the use of mobile phones in their class environments; this, therefore, is indicating that teachers have to use it in a clandestine manner. This, therefore, makes it necessary for institutional policies to be amended to allow for the use of the mobile phone by both teachers and students as educational tools. It has the following impacts:
Supplementing formal education: mobile-oriented learning has the potential of supporting the provision of formal education. Furthermore, it is used in places where there is no infrastructure that favors formal learning. The use of mobile devices in education is considered as a tool for mediation in learning, it is just considered as the end, which should be used wholly as a learning tool.
Successful use of mobile technology for education should factor in the following considerations: who is the learner, what is the topic, and where is the location of the learners (Kaleidoscope, 2007). Its introduction as an instrument of learning has revolutionized education and ensured that all people access education opportunities. The use of mobile technology has led to the development of the distant learning phenomenon where people can realize their academic dreams when they are at the comfort of their homes.
Possible Research Questions
The widespread nature and the prevalence of mobile technologies can motivate researchers to explore, exploit, and to research on the topic. With the technological advancements, it is evident that there is a nexus between the use of mobile technology the and the realization of the objectives of education. Among the questions for further research are:
- What are the impacts of mobile devices in a classroom?
- Do mobile phones support learning in schools, or they have helped render schools obsolete?
- How can the students learn by use of mobile technology as opposed to interactive classroom learning? (Kritt & Winegar, 2010).
- What are the health and environmental implications of using mobile technology as a learning tool?
Mobile technology is continually penetrating every aspect of human society; it is slowly gaining prominence as an essential tool for learners with great potential. Though at the present several learning institutions still prohibit the use cell phones and other devices, they are unlikely to withstand the pressure of technology and the growing demand for the use of mobile technology to achieve educational objectives like the rising literacy and numeracy standards which is a global challenge.
The effective use of mobile technology can be fully achieved by deploying context-aware technologies, which will dictate learner’s movements and preferences to enhance access to relevant resources, which can be utilized for learning. Mobile learning is rapidly growing.
The synergy, particularly between the use of mobile technology in education and distance learning is growing enormously potential. As the world becomes increasingly complex, there increases some need for a complex and new form of technology, which has the potential to develop and foster interactive learning.
Ally, M. (2009). Mobile Learning: Transforming the Delivery of Education and Training. Edmonton, Canada: Athabascan University Press.
Computing Community Consortium. (2010). A Roadmap for Education Technology. Computer Research Association. Web.
Crestani, F., Dunlop, M & Mizzaro, S. (2004). Mobile and ubiquitous information access: Mobile HCI 2003 international workshop, Udine, Italy, September 8, 2003: revised and invited papers. New York, NY: Springer.
Druin, A. (2009). Mobile technology for children: designing for interaction and learning. New York, NY: Morgan Kaufmann.
Kaleidoscope. (2007). Big issues in mobile learning. Mobile Learning. Web.
Katz, J. Mobile phones in educational settings. Web.
Kritt, D. & Winegar, L. (2010). Education and Technology: Critical Perspectives, Possible Futures. New York, NY: Lexington Books.
Nicholson, P. (2005). E-training practices for professional organizations: IFIP TC3/WG3.3 Fifth Working Conference on eTRAIN Practices for Professional Organizations (eTRAIN 2003), 2003, Pori, Finland. New York, NY: Springer.
UNESCO. (2010). Mobile learning for quality education and social inclusion. UNESCO. Web.