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  1. 1. DESIGN AND IMPLEMENTATION OF MOBILE LEARNING PLATFORM FOR EDUCATIONAL SYSTEM IN NIGERIA BY Ibrahim Bayo Momodu1.0 INTRODUCTIONEducation is one of the primary means for the development of understandingand more harmonious interaction which facilitates the reduction of poverty,exclusion, ignorance, oppression and war (UNESCO, 1996). The indication ofthis is that if students are not properly educated and developed, thedevelopment of a nation may be hampered. Arber and Mncube (2011) arguethat education is vital for the development of African society. According tothese authors, education has the capacity to enrich individuals withknowledge, skills and values which can be of great benefits to both theindividual and the nation. Thus education prepares the youth for the future.However, for education to be effective, students need to have access to its basictools. No wonder higher institutions in Nigeria have gradually moved towardsthe use of internet for the delivery of their courses in our distance learningprogrammes, as the internet have provide significantly different and interestingpossibilities for computer-mediated communication and learning from otherforms of educational technologies. The last decade has witnessed a revolution in information and communicationtechnologies with the installation of digital cellular phone networks and thedevelopment of mobile computers and digital cameras. These threetechnologies are now converging into personal digital assistants (PDAs) thatcan enable people to assess internet resources and run experiments in thefields, capture, and store and manage everyday events as images and soundsand communicate with friends, students and colleagues all over the world. This 1
  2. 2. implies that there is an alliance between learning as a contextual activity andpersonal mobile technology that equips learners with potent tools to supportlearning when students can learn irrespective of the place, and time. This typeof learning is called Mobile learning (M-Learning).It could be defined as any sort of learning that happens when the learner is notat a fixed, predetermined location, or learning that happens when the learnertakes advantage of the learning opportunity offered by mobiletechnology(Wikipedia 2008).It is the point where mobile computing andelectronic learning(E-learning) intersect to produce anytime, anywhere learningexperience. M-learning is effectively a sub-category of the larger concept of e-learning. Therefore, M-learning must benefit from E-learning technologicaladvances in order to avoid re-inventing the wheels. Nigerian education systemmust prepare their scholars and graduates to contribute to the globalmarketplace of ideas. Adopting an appropriate strategy for introducing ICT forteaching and learning enables Nigerian school graduates to actualize their fullpotential. In efforts to rapidly introduce technologies for teaching, manyuniversities may adopt models and content developed for and in other contexts.While there is much to be learned from the experiences of others, it’s criticalthat the key players in Nigeria educational sector should work together towardbuilding models to address specific challenges unique to the Nigerianeducational sector.Technology is changing at an unprecedented rate and without the propermachinery in place, it means that we stand the chance or risk of been leftbehind. Through the use of ICT, knowledge and information can be transferred,transformed utilized in real time. Hence the need to pay ultimate attention tothe way ICT has revolutionized the educational sector. With the advent ofmobile technologies, new potential abound for informal learning outside therealm of the traditional classroom. With nearly 80% of a student’s time spentoutside of the classroom, several opportunities abound to transform dailyevents into meaningful learning opportunities that could contribute andcomplement a student’s overall education. It is with this in mind that M-learning has taken its place in Nigerian educational system to ensure thefollowing objectives:.To ensure flexibility in learning. To make learning materials easily accessible,. To make learning ubiquitous. To provide an educationally friendly environment and. To provide a fast and efficient means of delivery services2.0 Related workAdvances in ICT have revolutionized education in many ways; for example,increasing access to post-secondary instruction, improving the availability ofeducational resources, and facilitating meaningful interaction among learners. 2
  3. 3. However the use of mobile technologies for learning is not obvious. This isbecause mobile technologies are commodity items and originally not designedfor learning but for entertainment, communication, networking and are sold aslifestyle and consumption items. At a second glance though, a manifold rangeof opportunities emerges also for school‐based learning and for the use ofmobile technologies for teaching. No standardized concepts exist yet for thesystematic use of mobile technologies for teaching and learning. But sometendencies are obvious already: looking at the last ten years of mobile learningpractice it is possible to categorize the use of mobile technologies in theclassroom and to derive some pointers for lesson planning design from it (Pachler et al. 2010 Bachmair et al. 2011).Building a model for implementing m-learning initiatives at Nigerianeducational system is both timely and urgent. For the last three decades, theMinistry of Education has worked to lay the foundation for e-learning throughinvestment in ICT infrastructure, management information systems, e-mailaccess and library information services. Still, many institutions find it difficultto conceptualize and implement initiatives locally. While each type of initiativeholds key benefits, this paper focuses on the importance of developing modelsto support and improve national initiatives. The challenges experienced inNigeria are not unlike those experienced elsewhere. For example, theEDUCAUSE identifies five challenges in teaching and learning with technology:(1) Creating learning environments that promote active learning, criticalthinking, collaborative learning, and knowledge creation; (2) Developing 21stcentury literacy (information, digital, and visual) among students and faculty;(3) Reaching and engaging todays learner; (4) Encouraging faculty adoptionand innovation in teaching and learning with IT; and (5) Advancing innovationin teaching and learning with technology in an era of budget cuts (EDUCAUSE,2009).The above challenges mirror the ones facing Nigerian in adopting thistechnology. In addition to creating a model for addressing these and relatedchallenges, a central purpose of this presentation is to create a community ofpractice where Nigerian can share experiences and collaborate to address thechallenges inhibiting the efforts to integrate technologies for teaching.Students with the highest level of ICT skills acquire many of these skills as aresult of course requirements. While students may develop informationtechnologies skills from recreational use, their academic preparation providesthe structure and competence necessary for them to compete effectively in theglobal marketplace. Six areas in which institutions should pay particularattention when implementing an ICT strategy in education are as follows: 1)integration of ICT into the curriculum; 2) definition of ICT skills; 3) training ofstudents and academic staff; 4) common learning environments and consistentinstructional approaches; 5) accessible and effective ICT service and support;and 6) monitoring and benchmarking. (R. Kvavik & J Caruso, 2005).However, any country that must successfully implement m-learning technologymust have scored a higher degree in term of institutional e-readiness. Nigeria 3
  4. 4. ranks 62 among nations in terms of institutional e-readiness, the ability of anation’s institutions to use ICT to achieve their mission and vision (Hamdan,2008). The most populous country on the African continent, Nigeria ranksbelow South Africa and Egypt – which rank 39 and 57 respectively. Nigeria’s e-readiness ranking highlights the need to seek innovative solutions to improveICT usages (Hamdan, 2008). Efforts to introduce technologies in educationmust extend beyond technology transfer to consider what is known as effectiveinnovation. Specifically, existing products need to be embedded into teachingand learning structures for students. Mobile learning initiatives must addresscritical factors which include cultural change, time for academics to transitfrom traditional teaching to teaching with technology, as well as staffdevelopment and training needs.2.1 BENEFITS OF MOBILE LEARNINGMobile devices are able to offer a solution to several key challenges facinglearning today in the developing world at large and Nigeria in particular. Thebenefits of mobile devices to learning are as follows:. It helps learners to improve their literacy, numeric skills and to recognizetheir existing abilities. It helps learners to identify the areas where they need assistance and support. It helps to combat resistance to the use of ICTs and bridge the gap betweenmobile home literacy and ICTs literacy. It removes some of the formality from learning experience and engagesreluctant learners. it helps to boost self esteem and self confidence.3.0 M-LEARNING TECHNOLOGIESM-learning requires technologies in three different categories to be successful.These categories are technologies for creating and managing the learningcontent, technologies for delivering the learning content and finallytechnologies for accessing the learning content as shown in Figure 1.1. 4
  5. 5. M – Learning Techniques Tool to create Technology to Technology to and manage deliver content Access content. content. Collaboration Servers Technologies Technologies content. Synchronous Asynchronous Tools ToolsFIG. 1.1 MOBILE LEARNING TECHNOLOGY DIAGRAM3.1 Creating and Managing the Learning ContentAuthoring techniques are the most important m-learning techniques that areused to assemble and create the course as a whole. It is the techniques youwould use to place all your course elements such as text, graphics orquestions. Authoring techniques can be classified into different categorizationas the following:3.1.1 Course Authoring TechniquesCourse authoring techniques are used to create m-learning courses. Themarket offers hundreds of these techniques that varied from advanced courseauthoring tools to end user techniques. The advanced techniques have largedesign flexibility while end users content authoring techniques enable nonprogrammer/users to build courses via form-based or templates.3.1.2 Content ConvertersContent converters are techniques that automatically transform any traditionalcontent format including Word documents, PowerPoint presentations orgraphics into m-learning courses on the application. 5
  6. 6. 3.2 Delivering the Learning ContentThe second set of technologies that are provided by m-learning is the contentdelivery technologies. M-learning offers synchronous and asynchronouscollaboration techniques that make it possible for learners to communicatewith each other and with the tutor and it also offers other common techniquesto deliver the learning content as media server.3.2.1 Collaboration TechniquesBecause collaboration is a necessary element in any learning process,collaboration techniques are making significant impact on m-learning. Thesetechniques provide medium for sharing information and transferring knowledgeeither synchronously or asynchronously.a) Synchronous technologiesSynchronous technologies support the synchronous learning which refers tothe learning process in which the tutor and students interact at the same timebut they are not together in the same location. These technologies enable manyimportant features that should be supported by any m-learning platform suchas: real-time interaction among learners, remote presentations from teachersand virtual classrooms. Synchronous technologies are like: (1) Virtual Classroom: it is an online private classroom that mimics thetraditional classroom and provides a virtual place for the teachers to supportthe students. It offers many activities, for example, group students, quizzes,homework activities and assessments.(2) Chat: chat is a real-time delivery method that is used to send and receivecomments for the tutor or between the students.(3) Audio and Video Conferencing: audio and video conferencing technology canbe used to support the synchronous e-learning. Audio and video conferencingis a method of electronic communication that allows the transmission of soundand video to hold the communication among people located at differentlocations. Audio conference can be implemented in two ways, either phoneconference in which the tutor will teach through phone or via the Internet inwhich the tutor would teach through a microphone attached to a computerthat is connected to the Internet. Video conferencing can also be done either bydigital cameras attached to computer that is connected to the Internet or byspecial video conferencing devices.(4) Shared Whiteboard: shard whiteboard is also considered one of theimportant technologies that presents and edits documents. It can be used fortyping, highlighting and pointing any comments. For example the tutor canattract the student attention to a certain sentence in the document by drawinga circle around it or highlighting it. (5) Application Sharing: this tool is used for teaching software applications forremote students. The students can watch whatever the teacher does with thesoftware or they can take the control of the application and practice on it.(6) Online Meeting Tools: online meeting tools are web and Internet tools.b) Asynchronous technologies.Asynchronous technologies support the asynchronous learning techniqueswhich refer to the learning process in which the tutor and students do not 6
  7. 7. interact at the same time and they are not together in the same location also.These technologies hold up the self-paced m-learning as well as asynchronousm-learning.4.0. MOBILE LEARNING CONNECTION TECHNOLOGIES.Over the past years, Internet has been considered an effective tool that can beused for education purposes. Regardless of the mobile devices capabilities, nomobile device can deliver learning material to learners if it does not have anaccess to online learning materials. In this section, we will look at some of theimportant wireless communication technologies that are used to allow mobiledevices to connect to the Internet in mobile learning environment. Thesewireless technologies include: 4.1 Global System for Mobile Communication (GSM) GSM is a widespread standard that is used for the digital cellular phonecommunication. GSM has a 9.6 Kbps data transfer rate. Moreover, it offersmany advantages to the cellular phone users such as enhancing the quality ofvoice and offering the short message service (SMS) which is an inexpensive waythat allow the users to communicate with each other. In addition, throughGSM the user can use his own phone all over the world using the roamingservices.4.2 General Packet Radio Service (GPRS)/Enhanced Data Rates for GlobalEvolution (EDGE)GPRS is a technology that allows a ubiquitous mobile data service which has ahigher data transfer rate than GSM, approximately between 30 and 80 Kbps.GPRS as the name indicates depends on the packet switched approach intransferring the data and it is the most commonly used and available wirelesstechnology. It offers the user the ability to browse the Internet and check e-mailon the move. However some users are able to obtain faster internet connectivityspeeds using the EDGE technology, which also called E-GPRS, because itupgrades the GPRS technology (Low, 2006).4.3 Universal Mobile Telecommunications System (UMTS)UMTS is communication technology that based on GSM and was first proposedin Europe. The high data transfer rate of UMTS, which is 2Mbps, makes thistechnology suitable for transferring large amounts of data, movie downloadsand video conferencing. As GPRS, UMTS depends on the packet switchedapproach in transferring the data but it is more expensive than GPRS.4.4 Wireless Application Protocol (WAP)WAP is a protocol that was designed to allow the users to browse the Internetfrom their mobile device rather than browsing the Internet from a desktopcomputer. Moreover, this protocol can view the information that is written byWireless Markup Language (WML) which is actually derived from the ExtensibleMarkup Language (XML).4.5 IrDA, Bluetooth and 802.11IrDA, Bluetooth and 802.11 are the most familiar wireless local and personalarea networking technologies. 7
  8. 8. 4.6 Short Message System (SMS)SMS is the facility to send and receive small amounts of alphanumericmessages that can include numbers or symbols from one mobile device toanother. In mobile learning, SMS can play a role in transmitting limitedimportant information for the learners and the tutors such as announcing theexams schedule or the assignments deadlines.4.7 Multimedia Message System (MMS)MMS that is descendant of SMS is used to enable the users to send and receiveone or more multimedia messages such as digital photos, graphics, video clipsand sounds through mobile devices. In mobile learning, MMS can be used forexample to transmit graphs and figures that can summarize some basic ideasthat were illustrated in the learning materials for the learners.5.0 E-LEARNING SERVICESThere are services that must be run on the above technologies. Theservices/functionalities offered by m-learning platforms can be grouped in fourcategories: m-learning resources, specific e-learning services, common services,and presentation. M-Learning ResourcesM-learning provides electronic access to multimedia and hypermedia learningmaterials and resources which can be managed by m-learning techniques;some systems allow authenticated users to have their own workspace or toupload personal resources while others may not. Furthermore, most of the m-learning techniques such as LMS and LCMS have the ability to create onlinetests that are used to examine the m-learners knowledge. In addition, m-learning offers metadata repositories which refer to data dictionaries thatprovide a data about each data element. Specific M-Learning ServicesM-learning offers many tools such as LCMS to support content managementservices. This kind of services are responsible of organizing the learningcontent that is usually arranged in components such as courses, lectures andclasses and subcomponents such as course syllabus, lecture presentationsection, exercise section and additional material section . Most of thesecomponents should be organized and accessed through a proper engine.Moreover, m-learning offers automated self assessment that automaticallychecks the results of the online tests and evaluate the student progress. Common M-Learning ServicesM-learning, as any system, must satisfy the different actors needs. Mainly, m-learning actors are administrators, learners and tutors that can be eitherteachers, communication masters or informatics. Besides satisfying the majoractors needs, m-learning provides some extra services for the actors such asinforming them about the learning events through an event managementsystem which is an online calendar or scheduler. Also, m-learning offerstechniques that support synchronous and asynchronous collaboration betweenlearners and with tutors. 8
  9. 9. Content PresentationThe presentation of the m-learning content is one of the most importantservices provided by m-learning and it has a common requirement that is m-learning system must be accessible from a single point by using a normalbrowser. Recent version of major browser must work correctly with the system.6.0 SYSTEM IMPLEMENTATION DESCRIPTIONThe Mobile Learning Platform has 5 modules.1. Login Module.2. Administrator Module.3. Assignment Module.4. Collaboration Module.5. M-Library Model.Login Module:-The login module is to create authentication for the user thathas authority to use the m-learning services. The user has to provide theusername and password in order to access the m-learning. The login module isthe first module in the m-learning platform. In the login module the user nameand password is checked, this is the authorization part that is included in themodule.A particular user can login for that particular session only; user cannot startfrom the middle of the application. The user password and username isauthorized by the administrator. The enumerator also acts as the databaseadministrator for the m-learning services.Administrator Module:-The administrator is the one who has privilege tocreate or delete a user account of a particular user .The administrator is theone who fills or changes some information about the application services. Theadministrator is the superior of this management system. The administrator isresponsible for all the activities that are done in the m-learning platform. Asmentioned earlier the administrator is the one who authorizes the user. Theadministrator views user’s information and all other information provided bythe platform. The administrator can edit or delete user data from the m-learning platform database.Assignment Module:-This is another module in the application where the userthat have successfully login to the system can submit his/her assignment fromthe m-learning platform and the assignment can be marked and the resultreturn to the student through the platform via mobile phones.Collaboration Module:-Users that have successfully login into the system willuse this module to communicate with one another about a particular subjector courses using their mobile phones and receive instant reply anywhere,anytime.M-library Module:-This module is used for checking information from thesystem library. This module makes the library to be of the system to beaccepted anywhere, anytime.The developed system enables the following operations: mobile library,collaboration, assignment submission and access to archived lecture materialsas been discussed above. 9
  10. 10. A desirable result was achieved which includes:1. Online/remote access to academic information where students can accessthe system at anytime of the day and from anywhere.2. Course works such as assignments can be submitted for assessment atanytime and from anywhere.3. Access to library for academic research any time of day.4. Students can collaborate/relate with one another from any location todiscuss academic issues.The system flowchart is presented in Fig.1.2. A user logs on with a passwordand chooses an operation of choice.The flow of data through the m-learning system is illustrated using the DataFlow Diagram (DFD) in Fig.1.3. 10
  11. 11. Start Welcome menu Input password User Name It is No Report successful Error Report Error It is Yes Load Was No successful assignment processes file successful No Yes Assignment No Output successful No YesReport Was Make Load Collaboration message process collaborationerror successful Process file No Load M – library Yes library file No Process Admin Output successful Enter password and User Name Was it No Report Error successful Yes Load Admin. file Stop 11 FIG. 1.2 M – LEARNING COMPLETE OPERATION FLOWCHART
  12. 12. APPLICATION LOGIN Assignment Collaboration Library Admin Read or submit Enter Check of Add assignment information Book Content Provide Process Power a Process necessary user Data Upload Upload Upload New Database Database Database course Process Upload Database M – LEARNING PLATFORMFigure 1.3 Data Flow Diagram of the mobile application 12
  13. 13. 6.1 ADVANTAGES OF THE SYSTEMThe following are the advantages of the mobile learning platform as it relates tothis system:6.1.1 Complete integration of FeaturesThis research implemented a mobile learning platform that enables educationalcontent delivery through mobile phones. In Nigeria today, the development ofweb based electronic learning only allows those with computer systems leavingout those with mobile phones; although some web based electronic learningsystems can be accessed through mobile phones but without the full features.Some web based electronic learning systems used flash contents for thedelivery which most mobile phones could not understand; this leaves out thoseawesome features. The product of this research is a mobile phone platform thatintegrates everything that mobile phone could support.6.1.2 Availability of Mobile PhonesFurthermore, there are more mobile phone users than computer system; this isdue to the facts that the prices of mobile phones are cheap compared tocomputer systems globally. In addition, the technological revolution in the fieldof mobile phones has led to manufacturing of computer capability phones atrelative cheap prices. This implies that the developed mobile learning systemuses what the students have to perform academic activity.6.1.3 Flexibility of Learning SystemThis research likewise contributes conveniences, portability and mobility,which are the attributes of mobile phone to learning. This implies that thedeveloped system enables users to learn anytime, anywhere and anyhow. Thisresulted to a great achievement in mobile application development andimplementation in as aspect of our educational system.6.1.4 Nigeria Education System ContentsOne alarming problem with most of the existing mobile learning and web basedlearning system is that they are localized to certain country or region. In mostcases Africans are excluded from the list due to our educational systems andcurriculum contents. This work contributed greatly to the localization of themobile learning to Nigerian.6.1.5 Low Bandwidth Is UsedThis work came at the point where the internet connection fee is graduallygoing down on mobile network as against the broadband network. Theapplication utilizes the low bandwidth data connection for content delivery.This eradicates the need for high speed internet connection before it can beused.7.0 CONCLUSION What this paper modestly attempted to do is to carefully bring into focuswhat it takes to implement an effective and efficient m-mobile learning platformin Nigeria system of education. The implementation of mobile-learning platformin Nigeria education requires strong leadership and vision. It also requires a 13
  14. 14. comprehensive strategy that is not only benchmarked on global best practicebut also sensitive to existing political and economic realities. There is the needfor continuity of Government plans and actions. For mobile learning platformto become a reality in Nigeria, governments in consultation with stakeholdersare advised to develop a National strategic framework, which articulates thegovernment’s vision, targets and milestones, technical approach and standardsfor m-learning systems. Such a framework must address information privacy,security maintenance and interface standards. National strategic framework isa dynamic process. There are two approaches to m-learning development: Thetop down approach which is characterized by a high degree of control by thecentral government, it usually includes the development of a strategy. Thesecond is the bottom up approach in which individual departments and localgovernments independently move forward with their own projects, commonstandards are flexible and overall national strategy is not so important. However human factor is critical to achieving successful implementationof m-learning in our educational system. No matter how good the technology is,if the human being who would drive the technology is not willing to embracechange, he can frustrate whatever innovation any technology promises to bringto bear. Government should carefully tackle the issue of human factor which isresponsible for underutilization of most of the ICT facilities put in place bygovernment thereby, sabotaging the good effort of the government.8.0 RECOMMENDATIONSIn charting the way forward this paper wish to recommend the following:There is need for a Master plan and strategy for implementation of m-learning platform inNigeria Educational System.There is need to establish a commission on ICT to regulate the sector and to see to the fullimplementation of m-learning platform in the Ministry of Education.Government should encourage Nigerians in Diaspora to actively participate by investing in ICTand MOBILE application development in the country.Government should declare Access to ICT and MOBILE Services as fundamental human right ofevery Nigerian and should establish a timetable and guarantee enabling environment forattracting the right level of investments.Government should review the current educational curricula to include ICT and MOBILELEARNING education at all levels. 14
  15. 15. Government should enhance the integration of rural areas with the Global InformationNetwork.Government should ensure the establishment of ICT departments in all primary schools,secondary schools, higher schools, ministries and parasatals at the Federal, State and Localgovernment levels and set aside about 4% of the budget for any Ministry on IT goods andservices.An enabling environment should be established by the government for the localmanufacture/assembly of phones and accessories.Software development by the public and private sectors should be encouraged and patronized.Incentives like tax rebate (subsidy on roll out cost to rural areas) should be encouraged. There isneed for government to come up with a policy that guarantees every Nigerian student, fromthe primary school to the University level, have access to the use of computer, phones as wellas access to the Internet.The citizens who are the consumers need to appreciate the need to invest their resources inacquiring access to the Internet because of the immense return of such investment whichcomes in the form of empowerment, enhanced productivity in business and easycommunications with friends, students and their tutor.The cost of acquiring mobile application tools should be subsidized to encourage acquisition ofsuch tools, even as more Public Private Partnership structures are cemented especially in thearea of infrastructural development.Security measures should be put in place to safeguard ICT facilities, especially the V-Sat facilitiesthat are frequently vandalized.Policy formulation process, from the beginning to the end, takes a reasonably long period oftime, typically two to three years. In a rapidly changing environment such as the expandingapplications of ICT that give rise to new applications with far-reaching implications toindividuals, organizations and society, such as e-commerce and e-government, three years canbe too long for a meaningful policy to be developed. By the time such policy is finalized, theissues that gave rise to their formulation shall have changed considerably to the extent that theintended impact of such policies either becomes minimal or even negative. To overcome thisprocess, ICT related polices should be formulated and implemented within the shortest possibletime so that alternative decisions and options can be taken so as to meet up with the activitiescurrently requiring attention. 15
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