Mobile Learning: A Promising Trend
If you wish to learn vocabulary or mathematical formulae while on the move, but are not keen on carrying around books and notepads, look no further than your mobile phone or tablet computer. 'Mobile learning' groups learning content into short units or learning packages that can be accessed anywhere. The Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH now also offers mobile learning. Volker Lichtenthäler, Project Manager of the GC21 E-Academy, explains the advantages in the following interview.
What is mobile learning and what are its advantages?
Mobile learning – also known as m-learning – involves using handheld technologies (mobile phones, smartphones or tablet computers) to study. With mobile learning, you can access study material no matter where you are. For example, you can learn vocabulary while waiting for the bus. Mobile learning now also offers training courses. A further benefit of m-learning is that you can refer back to and access the material, whenever you need it. For instance, if you want to test a new piece of equipment, you can see how it works using your mobile phone.
In what areas can m-learning be used?
People who study while on the move mainly do so in brief intervals. Mobile learning is therefore suitable for all subjects which can be offered in succinct units. Vocabulary, maths exercises or business management case studies are just a few examples. This means that mobile learning is primarily used to expand know-how.
What are the disadvantages of mobile learning?
To use mobile learning, you need a mobile phone, smartphone or tablet, all of which can be costly. Mobile phone screens are also small, which makes it difficult to integrate longer texts into mobile learning. Tablet screens are considerably bigger and therefore more suited to reading text. As it is currently difficult to predict which display size will become standard, we expect that there will be many more changes in this area. The future of mobile learning hinges on these developments.
In which regions is m-learning used?
Currently, mobile learning is mainly used in industrialised countries. However, there is a great deal of potential for m-learning in developing countries, for example in Eastern Africa. Mobile phones are widely used throughout the region and the necessary infrastructure is already in place. In this part of the world, it goes without saying that mobile phones are not just used for making phone calls, but also for mobile banking, for instance. Mobile learning could also be used in the medical context in Eastern Africa, for example, to further train midwives.
About our interviewee
Our interviewee Volker Lichtenthäler is Project Manager of the GC21 E-Academy, the online academy for worldwide learning.
What courses does the GC21 E-Academy offer?
Our key target group is professional and managerial staff in developing countries. Our m-learning courses are therefore often based on management topics that participants have previously taken online. To facilitate an exchange of experience and ideas between users and the GC21 E-Academy, we have set up mobile forums and a facebook-type network. A special game also motivates participants to study. The services we offer are interactive, which is crucial for the success of mobile learning. Users will only benefit from this type of study if they are encouraged to actively participate.
Do you want to know more about the different m-learning courses? For further information about mobile learning please visit the website of the GC21 E-Academy in German, English and Spanish.
Discussion on M-Learning
Do you have any experience with mobile learning? Join the discussion in the comments below.