Everybody who is anybody has a phone these days. Acknowledging the fact that the face to face teaching model has more liabilities than assets, its no surprise that someone would think of using mobile technology in education. You may be thinking that M-learning (Mobile Learning) is E-Learning (Electronic Learning) on a mobile device, but that is far from correct, if not completely wrong! In case of E-Learning, students use online study material which their teachers upload, to study at home. This “study material” can be of any form : audio, video, text, animation etc. Thus, E-Learning, when implemented in the Flipped Classroom, is a significant improvement over traditional “Face-to-Face” (F2F) Learning.
Today’s Students, high school & college students in particular, spend most of their time on their smart phones. If they live in dorms, its more than likely that their internet usage is restricted. So, say that their teacher put some video tutorial up, to illustrate a concept. For E-Learning to successfully replace F2F, the tutorial is made comprehensive. Hence the video long to make sure nothing is left out. Thats nice and all, but this large file now, students have to download this large file on their restricted internet access. The file would take hours to download, if not fail altogether.
According to 2015 statistics, 83% students (with phones) worldwide use mobile phones as their primary study tool.
So, E-Learning has quite the drawback! To counteract this, M-Learning comes into play. Instead of making a comprehensive video tutorial, make a concise and “to the point” video, effectively reducing the video length, yet obtaining a comprehensive understanding of the concept illustrated. Of course, it’s easier said than done. Creating such a tutorial requires carful planning to ensure that not even a single second is wasted! If the video is still too long, then break it down into parts of say, 3-5 minutes each. The time interval of these “micro-lessons” is very important.
We already have enough sleeping heads in the classroom. It’d be a shame if students drop their phone, dozing off while listening to an online lecture!
E-Learning is more closely related to F2F than M-Learning. How? E-Learning has a very broad definition. In one of its many forms, E-Learning can still implement the classroom scenario. Students using Laptops as learning tools in the classroom is an example. Another name for classroom learning is called “formal learning”. Such a learning method forces knowledge on students, making it less effective. M-Learning saves the day by being away from the classroom. Students learn what they want, when they want. This paves the path for “informal learning” , a more effective and interactive form of learning.
To understand how important M-Learning is, consider this example : A college student is preparing for the SAT and GRE. In both cases, the english vocabulary section is quite menacing. There thousands of words that he has to master to get into shape. The idea of actually sitting down at a desk and going through flash cards (or any other study aid) is pretty boring. The student would probably be distracted after going through only ten words or so. Is there a way to get students to study more effectively? There is! What if these vocab flash cards were in the form of a Mobile App? Students would feel that they are not really studying, when they are actually learning more than they would have on a desk.
CONCLUSION WITH SUPPORTIVE RESEARCH
According to an M-Learning statistic, conducted by Drew Harnish [M.S. thesis on effective M-Learning. Source on page.57 & 62], students who used Apps as their primary study tool, performed 16% better than those who used the old “sit and study” approach.
Clearly, M-Learning is NOT E-Learning, nor is it simply E-Learning on a mobile device. It is a method of informal learning that uses carefully planned micro-lessons to make learning faster, efficient and entertaining!
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