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The Mobile Learning Future of Education – Part 2

by Justin Marquis Ph.D.

Yesterday’s post examined the first five of executive director of the Frog Innovative Design Company and member of the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences Fabio Sergio’s research-based imaginings of the mLearning future of education. Today’s post examines the final five of his ten possibilities.

6. Education’s Long Tail: "MLearning solutions are poised to tap into the vast amount of existing educational materials that could be made accessible via mobile channels. This is especially true with YouTube, Vimeo, and other video-sharing services already providing a critical mass of tips, tutorials, and full-fledged lessons that can be re-aggregated by theme and packaged as educational material" (Sergio, 2012).

Assessment: While Sergio references mainly to free informal learning networks in his article, there are an equal number of formal learning options available for free, and more come on line daily. Washington State introduced a massive project to make their most popular community college courses available for free online, edX, Coursera, the Khan Academy, Udacity, MITx, and many more make an incredible range of content available, much of it mediated or delivered by college faculty.

7. Teachers and Pupils Trade Roles: "The same handheld-connected tools that enable children and adults to access existing educational solutions also provide the opportunity for them to capture and share knowledge in return. In other words, imagine kids who are raised with programming and video-production knowledge from very early ages creating educational materials for their peers, or even to teach adults, exposing them to very young people’s points of view of the world" (Sergio, 2012).

Assessment: According to educator Shelly Wright a major change is needed in the basic process of educating so that children begin learning by creating, thus entering Bloom’s Taxonomy at the pinnacle rather than the bottom. This flip encourages innovation and encourages the kinds of peer to peer and student to teacher interactivity that Sergio discusses. There are peer to peer learning networks emerging as models for education at all levels and in informal learning. Apolyton U is one example of a spontaneously formed peer learning network that has flourished on the Internet.

8. Synergies with Mobile Banking and Mobile Health Initiatives: "Beyond adapting some ideas, including using text messaging to deliver short lessons, teacher feedback, and grades, mLearning, mHeatlh, and mFinance can also be synergistically combined. After all, better education can easily improve people’s financial condition and in turn positively influence their health" (Sergio, 2012).

Assessment: Wrapping education, health, and banking together under one vast umbrella is an excellent idea but falls short of the full potential of mLearning. All learning benefits from engagement in realistic contexts and mobile technologies make it possible for learners of any material to be dynamically linked to real world practitioners or to immediately see the applicability of their studies. Learning and education can and should be a central part of the human experience and our connected world makes it possible for the interrelationships between areas to become apparent and thus strengthened and more beneficial.

9. New Opportunities for Traditional Educational Institutions: "The mLearning phenomenon will not necessarily compete with well-established schools but actually complement and extend their current offerings . . . Traditional institutions could also help mLearning solutions scale quickly by leveraging their vast and established networks of students, faculty, and alumni" (Sergio, 2012).

Assessment: This notion will require an opening of the currently closed system of education and academic accreditation to allow alternative forms of learning to be valued. At present, mLearning is mainly a fringe activity for formal university and K-12 systems. While there certainly is some investment in the basic concept through efforts such as edX, there is little apparent interest in true innovation that would dramatically change the landscape of education. Ultimately, established formal learning institutions will be unlikely to support informal options as they directly compete with their share of the student market.

10. A Revolution Leading to Customized Education: "The key for successfully channeling the mLearning revolution will not simply be about digitizing current educational systems. The real appeal will be allowing people to choose their own paths, leverage their talents, and follow their passions and callings. . .  students of any age or background might have the chance to pursue knowledge that is meaningful, relevant, and realistic to achieve in their own lives" (Sergio, 2012).

Assessment: There is a long, obstacle filled mountain to climb before truly customizable education options emerge as a regular part of higher education. mLearning is likely to drive this inevitable change faster, but the industrial, mass-production model of education still holds sway at all levels and will continue to do so into the foreseeable future, particularly as long as efficiency remains a priority for those looking to reform education.

Conclusion:
Overall, the piece by Sergio is a well-considered extrapolation of where current mLearning technologies may take us in the near future. It is an extremely optimistic piece that imagines a more egalitarian world made possible by mobile solutions and the Internet. While some of the concepts have very significant obstacles to overcome before they become a reality, there is a great hope that mobile technologies can and will have a profound impact on changing the future of what education looks like around the world.

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Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net