How Far Can Mobile Learning Reach?

What reaches 87% of the world’s population (≈ 6 billion people); is the most popular device to access the Internet in Africa and fits in your pocket? You guessed it: mobile phones, cellular phones, smartphones!

Imagine the day when children ask: “what is a pay phone?” or worse yet “what is a land line?”. With mobile devices making large strides in adoption year after year, these questions are coming soon! My, how Alexander Graham Bell would be so proud to see his invention tweaked and transformed into a mean lean communication, gaming, Internet access, portable machine. There is no other technology that has global reach like mobile phones.

With that kind of reach I can’t help but think of the educational possibilities. Learning is no longer restricted to a classroom or a desk.  Need to learn the alphabet? Download the alphabet song ringtone. Trying to understand Einstein’s Relativity Theory? Play physics simulation mobile games. Assigned an art project? Create a collage from the pictures taken from your iPhone. Learning a new language? Download the Voxy app ;-).

When designing mobile lesson plans it is important to remember mobile learning isn’t about the device,  it’s about the mobility of the user (Sharple’s papers explains this well). In addition, remember to chunk information into short units that the learner can quit and revisit later. Mobility and learning is a match made in education technology heaven. Their romance allows context to flow into every lesson. With the boundless limitations of mobile (can you hear me now?) learning can become 100% student-centered. Additionally mobile phones are rapidly becoming an integral part of the Latino community here in the US, and the entire country uses smartphones like personal mini computers for music, web access and, social networking use.  Mobile phones are outselling laptops and tablets and they prove to be a perfect tool to teach people far and wide.

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