Mobile technology has entered all spheres of modern life including the education domain. Digital boards, virtual discussion forums and interactive textbooks powered by mobile devices have already become an inseparable part of educational process for many institutions. Smart educators come up with creative ways of turning smartphones which used to be only a distraction for students into a powerful mobile learning tool. This helps to transform formalised schooling into fun, dynamic and interactive environment. Mobile technology revolutionises education on many levels starting from who gets access to schooling, what information they can access and how modern-day students learn. Now we can say with confidence that technology impact on education will only continue to magnify as mobile device penetration and mobile connectivity around the world rapidly rise.
Expending horizons for continuous education and self-learning
The days when one would get an education within a strictly defined period of life are long gone. Now there is no expiration date on education. Introduction of smart and connected devices demolishes all possible boarders that prevented people from access to educational sources before. Geographical location, age, race, nationality and physical burdens – all of this are no longer limits in access to learning, especially with MOOCs that are provided by world-class institutions (including Stanford, Harvard, MIT and many others). What’s more, modern day technology and introduction of MOOCs opens enormous opportunities for people to switch between disciplines and get access to rare information. Now you are not tied to your college diploma for the rest of your life. Thus, looking at the stats across countries over 70% of Coursera students already have a college degree, yet they continue their education and explore new fields.
Rather than seeking information from someone else, students can now learn more themselves. They have the world at their fingertips. Therefore, mobile technology not only provides access to information, but makes students from early age producers and self-builders of their own education. When you have control over your actions this usually leads to higher motivation as well. No wonder that a 2010 study in Nature Neuroscience found that we learn better when we have more control over the material. Mobile technology gives a chance to create your own personalised individualised educational path. Many keep their own digital journal of learning experiences (personal journals on WordPress exemplify this).
Not only technology influences what students can learn, but it has a huge impact on where they can learn. Now learning is not only limited to classroom or doing homework. Connected devices, mobile phones and tablets in particular, provide access to information on demand. Leapfrogging, ability to access information on the go, anytime and anywhere is the new reality. Having access to learning materials makes students more engaged in the education process as now they can go on exploring and learning far outside of classroom. This also leads to democratisation of information as now it’s more open and accessible to the wider public.
Technology enhanced learning experience
Mobile technology revolutionises the way content is delivered to students and changes the very nature of the educational materials. Now it’s not only plain text and statistic pictures on paper and a сhalk board in classroom. Interactive iBooks on iPad provide new layers of information for students to access. Today students can play around with interactive captions, rotate a 3D object, take notes, make annotations and complete quizzes right away. Interactive textbooks, mobile responsive learning materials and multimedia facilities on campus redefine classroom experience.
Not only mobile devices provide instant access to information in the Internet and multimedia content, they also facilitate sharing and communication inside/outside of classroom. Learning through collaboration, often combining real-world and digital-world learning resources is a common practice for many educational institutions nowadays. Virtual discussion forums, video conferences powered by VoIP services, chatrooms and dedicated educational platforms encourage discussion and create room for new social connections.
According to the latest data, smartphone penetration rate among youngsters are rather high. In the UK alone 81% of 13-18 year-old phone owners own smartphones. What is more, 34% of 13-18 year-olds with a mobile phone also own a tablet. As device costs are going down and penetration rate goes up, no wonder that many schools adopt BYOD approach to ensure improved access to information through the new mobile medium.
Maximising new opportunities for traditional education
With increasing access to information anytime and anywhere, the former role of formal education is being challenged to fit in with new trends. The shift in educational paradigms is inevitable and all parties can feel it. Overall technology is making the whole educational process more flexible and interconnected. Students can learn inside and outside of classrooms using mobile devices. Teachers participate in virtual discussion forums and learn from students. Parents get new channels to communicate with teachers and get more oversight over the educational process. Altogether it makes students/teachers and parents more engaged and connected with each other.
Rising software literacy and shift in educational programs with focus on technology go hand-in-hand with the trends above. Basic courses on software programming are now available for students with different majors. The latest online courses on software engineering, programming and human-computer interaction on Coursera attract hundreds of thousands of students each.
All of the above prove that a new age of education is already underway. Nowadays mobile technology not only works as a catalyst & acceleration in education process. It also creates a new digital & technology-driven framework for schools and universities all of the world. Thanks to tablets and smartphones, students have 24/7 access to education resources. They share, communicate and collaborate through multiple channels across geographical borders, age difference, and various previous educational backgrounds.
Thus, mobile devices are not only the means of access to information, they foster interaction and communication per se. Individualisation, collaboration and continuous innovation became the three pillars modern educational institutions build their learning programs on. Although “going to school” will no longer be the same, mobile technology is not a threat to traditional schooling. It’s an opportunity with multiple benefits that wait to be leveraged.