What is M-Learning?

B. McTeer

Mobile learning, also known as m-learning, is a type of distance education that allows people to learn from curriculum presented on mobile devices. M-learning often supplements traditional classroom instruction or e-learning instruction and gives students access to educational materials from nearly any location. Frequent use of mobile devices has prompted the development of this alternative education format.

Smartphones can be a key tool for m-learning.
Smartphones can be a key tool for m-learning.

With m-learning technology, instructors can create educational podcasts and audio lectures. Students can download this material onto their digital audio players for review at any time. Various mobile devices can be used to view video lectures and demonstrations. This technology also creates opportunities for students to share files and collaborate through instant messages.

E-book readers can be used to download textbooks and lecture notes for mobile learning.
E-book readers can be used to download textbooks and lecture notes for mobile learning.

E-book readers can be used to download textbooks and lecture notes. The portability of e-books lets students access information without carrying around bulky books and notes. Most e-books have highlighting and annotation features for taking paperless notes.

A smartphone is all-in-one mobile technology for m-learning. Students can download educational pictures and audio on the same device that allows them to e-mail their instructors. Smartphones are equipped with advanced browsers that let students view rich multimedia content to supplement their education. These phones also have high storage capabilities to store downloaded content for offline mobile learning.

M-learning is beneficial for several reasons. Other forms of e-learning often require that students access material from computers. M-learning is a flexible educational technology that people can access from anywhere at any time. Mobile learning encourages stronger interaction between students and their professors. It also can be cost effective, because many people own mobile devices and don't need to go out and purchase new technology to access course materials.

There are a few challenges presented by m-learning. Students who are more comfortable with technology can have an advantage over those who are not as technologically savvy. The ability to collaborate can create opportunities for students to cheat by sharing information. The variety of mobile technologies available might cause compatibility problems that can require students to update their mobile software frequently. Even though m-learning is a platform that promotes student interaction, it also might isolate them, because the need for in-person communication is minimal.

Students and professors are not the only people who can benefit from m-learning. Some product manufacturers have podcasts with product features and installation instruction available for consumers. Amateur athletes also can access video demonstrations to improve their game. People equipped with mobile devices can use this educational technology to enhance their daily lives.

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