Basically, M-learning is the exciting art of using mobile technologies to enhance the learning experience. Mobile phones, PDAs, Pocket PCs and the Internet can be blended to engage and motivate learners, any time and anywhere.
Today networks and equipment are developed that increase the flexibility of the learner to study independent of time and place. Laptops, smart phones and pocket PCs make it possible for students to study under circumstances and at places where study before was impossible.
The mobile revolution is finally here. Wherever one looks, the evidence of mobile penetration and adoption is irrefutable: cell phones, PDAs (personal digital assistants), MP3 players, portable game devices, handhelds, tablets, and laptops abound. No demographic is immune from this phenomenon. From toddlers to seniors, people are increasingly connected and are digitally communicating with each other in ways that would have been impossible to imagine only a few years ago.
Historically This is because we have learned from our own culture that learning has to take place in confined space, where students and a "teacher" manage the transfer of information via speech and blackboard notes. That's the way we still oblige the great majority of our young people to find out about how the world works: detached from context, forced into a confined and limiting space, utilizing only one communication sense to deliver ideas and concepts that require direct exposure and interaction to be fully understood.
Wattpad have launched a site enabling users to create their own digital, text-based stories, and make them accessible to mobile devices. The text is compressed before being downloaded to the user’s phone, a few pages at a time - strategies designed to minimise waiting time for content.
The Wattpad reader allows users to search for and browse new stories, and download them remotely. Alternatively, stories can be downloaded to a PC and transferred to mobile phones using a cable or Bluetooth connection.
Other services, such as Winksite , already allow users to create their own mobile web content, so I guess the particular attractions of Wattbook are the remote search/browse, and the “upload from PC” options that most other services lack.
Learning within context, at-the-time when you need it, and by exploring and calling up the precise information you need to know about, it is a fundamental paradigmatic shift from the way we conceive education today.
By mixing e-learning and mobile computing , a new form of education may be created. It is called mobile learning, or m-learning .
How have you seen M-Learning used in your schools?
A rich mobile Internet experience includes the following attributes:
Ubiquity : How widely available is the media player that will be required for the viewer to see the application on the device display?
Access: How widely available is the wireless network that will distribute the mobile content?
Richness: Do pages load quickly? Do animations play in a smooth and seamless manner? Does the streaming media (media that is consumed—read, heard, viewed—while it is being delivered) flow at a sufficiently rapid rate?
Efficiency: How large is the client that will be required to make use of a particular media player? How fast will the application load and play?
Flexibility: Will the application be viewable on a variety of devices? Can content designed for use with one kind of device or operating system be played on other devices with some expectation of comparable quality?
Security: Is the interactive mobile device protected from worms and viruses? Is the shared content protected from being intercepted by unintended recipients?
Reliability: Will content be displayed in a consistent manner, regardless of the browser, device, and screen size?
Interactivity: Does the application allow users to interact freely with the display and the content?
‘ M-learning' is the follow up of E-learning which for its part originates from D-learning (distance education). M-learning is the delivery of learning to students who are not keeping a fixed location or through the use of mobile or portable technology. The rapid growth of information and communication technologies ( ICT ) makes it possible to develop new forms of this education.
Given its definition m-learning could very well be a new form of personal learning that never ends, allowing more and more people to realize how much of our lifetimes on this planet are truly extended adventures in personal learning.
The advocates of lifelong learning have been advocating this very change in how we conceive, design and deliver education. Individuals are constantly learning, searching, questioning and acknowledging new information from the environment they operate in, no matter what their interest or specialization is.
Unless your work assignment is something that a computer or other automated machine could take over from you, an increasing number of work activities depend on your ability to learn and familiarize yourself with a continuously growing array of new concepts and ideas.
We can consider about the potentiality of the mobile learning by following statistical information concerning the number and the growth of cell phones, PDA, smart phones and users of mobile communications:
more than 50% working places in USA are mobile ;
until this moment all over the world are sold more than 500 mil. cell phones with
web abilities ;
the number of sold cell phones in Europe has a growth of 25% for the first quarter of 2004 year ;
the number of sold PDA and smart phones has growth more than 200% for the
last year ;
every quarter the number of companies developing software for mobile devices
increases by 1000 ;
up to 2005 the number of sold multifunctional mobile devices (PDA and smart
phones) will exceed the number of sold personal computers ;
up to 2010 over 1 mlrd users will use wireless Internet ;
up to 2010 there will be more than 1,8 mlrd users of the mobile communications
The Realize of mobile learning is impossible without the use of mobile devices. They vary significantly in their abilities, sizes and prices. The common ability which united them is their mobility and possibility to make wireless connections.
Jamalipour, A. The Wireless Mobile Internet: Architectures, Protocols, andServices, John Wiley & Sons, 2003.
Singh, H. Leveraging Mobile and Wireless Internet, Learning Circuits, September, 2003.
European GSM Market has 25% Growth During 1Q’04 According IDC, Computerworld-Bulgaria, Issue 16, 2004.
The Mobiles' Applications Market Has Huge Potential, Computerworld-Bulgaria, Issue 42, 2003.
239% Growth in the Smart Phones and PDA Sale During Q2’2003 in ЕМЕА,
The main types of mobile devices used in the education process are:
NoteBook computers . From one hand they have such abilities as desktop personal computer; from the other hand they have small sizes and support wireless communications. Their prices are still high.
Tablet PC . These are one of the newest mobile devices. They also have full range of abilities as personal computers. Some of them haven't keyboard but have software to recognize handwritten text. It is relatively expensive.
Personal Digital Assistant (PDA) . They have small sizes and significant processor power. New models support more than 65000 colors, recognize handwritten text and can play different types of multimedia files. The main
operating systems used are Palm and Microsoft Pocket PC.
Cellular phones . The low class devices mainly can be used for voice communication and sending and receiving of text messages (SMS). Some of their disadvantages are low memory capacity and low data transfer rate. The cellular phones from the higher class can be used to Internet access via WAP or GPRS technologies. They also can be used to send and receive the multimedia messages (MMS). Their prices continuously decrease.
Smart Phones . They are hybrid devices which combine the abilities of cellular phones and PDA. They have smaller sizes than PDA and bigger than cellular phones. Typically they haven't full sized keyboard and can recognize handwritten text. They use Symbian, Windows Mobile or other operating system. As they have Internet browsers they have potential to be successfully used in the mobile multimedia education.
Today there are several communication technologies which are used in mobile devices. Their abilities vary vastly as well as data transmission range.
Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) is one of the leading digital cellular systems. It uses narrow band TDMA (Time Division Multiple Access). Originally a European standard for digital mobile telephony, GSM has become the world's most widely used mobile system in use in over 100 countries. GSM networks operate on the 900 MHz and 1800 MHz waveband in Europe, Asia and Australia, and on the MHz 1900 waveband in North America and in parts of Latin America and Africa. It provides integrated voice mail, high-speed data, fax, paging and short message services capabilities, as well as secure communications. It offers the best voice quality of any current digital wireless standard.
Wireless Application Protocol (WAP) . This is a free, unlicensed protocol for wireless communications. It makes possible creation of advanced communications services and access to Internet pages from a cellular phone. WAP is a de facto industry standard supported by a large number of suppliers. WAP devices understand the WML language (an XML application) that is optimized for small screens and navigation without a keyboard. WAP also supports WMLScript scripting language.
General Packet Radio Service (GPRS) . A packet-linked technology that enables high-speed wireless Internet and other data communications. GPRS provides about four times greater speed than conventional GSM systems. Currently 288 operators around the world have commercial GPRS services.
Bluetooth wireless technology is a short-range radio technology. Bluetooth makes it possible to transmit signals over short distances between telephones, computers and other devices and thereby simplify communication and synchronization between devices.
IEEE 802.11 is a type of radio technology used for wireless local area networks (WLANs). It is a standard that has been developed by the IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers). Wi-Fi (802.11) is composed of several standards operating in different radio frequencies: 802.11b is a standard for wireless LANs operating in the 2.4 GHz spectrum with a bandwidth of 11 Mbps; 802.11a is a different standard for wireless LANs, and pertains to systems operating in the 5 GHz frequency range with a bandwidth of 54 Mbps. Another International Conference on Computer Systems and Technologies - CompSysTech’2004 - IV.28-4 - standard, 802.11g, is for WLANS operating in the 2.4 GHz frequency but with a bandwidth of 54 Mbps.
Infrared Data Association (IrDA) . This association defined a suite of protocols for infrared (IR) exchange of data between two devices, up to 1 or 2 meters apart (20 to 30 cm for low-power devices). IrDA devices typically have throughput of up to 115.2Kbps or 4Mbps. Smart phones, many PDAs, printers and laptop computers use IrDA protocols.
And the last two years have seen indeed an explosion of mobile devices as we have never been able to see before. The growing popularity of Apple's iPod , Blackberrys , and mobile phones now integrating audio playback devices, radio, access to online video and television, gaming, Internet browsers, email, photography and digital video recording are available in any electronic store from Seoul to Rio.
SpinVox , which allows you to call a number on your mobile (or any phone), leave a message, and have it automatically converted into any text format - SMS, email, or even a blog post. The blogging service, Speak-A-Blog, works like this:
Simply call your Speak-a-Blog TM number and speak your post. SpinVox converts it to text and posts the entry live to your blog, within minutes.
Sounds like a fast and simple way for learners to make journal entries on the go - particularly if their work or study environment doesn’t favour taking the time to laboriously compose an email or message using a mobile phone number pad.
SpinVox is a bit like the opposite of the Talkr text-to-speech service I use on all of my blog entries to convert my typed blog entries into a spoken, downloadable form that many people find more convenient for accessing as a podcast or audio file for listening on their iPod, mobile phone or PDA. Using audio as a data interface while on the move can be more flexible and easy-to-manage than typing on a small keypad, or reading off a small screen; Talkr and SpinVox are two services which have recognised this with their services.
M-learning could promote a shift from the teacher-centered classroom to hands-on, first-hand, just-in-time, lifelong learning.
Wouldn’t it be great to be able to learn about art history while in a museum sitting in front of a painting described on your mobile instead of listening to a mono-dimensional lecture of your professor in a crowded classroom?
Instead of studying about trees in a classroom, wouldn’t be preferable to touch and discover how nature works while being inside a true natural habitat and looking at living examples of what is being learned instead of supposedly learning about it through at home reading of long text passages on academic books?
Wouldn't this learning approach make you as a student more prone to enjoy and seek further learning opportunities while involving you more fully and directly into the selected subject matter?
Mobiles learning devices are also excellent interpersonal communication tools bringing the opportunity for co-discovery learning (people cooperating together in order to resolve problems) and for developing cooperative research and analysis skills, effective collaboration approaches, and effective communication skills when not in a face-to-face situation. As you probably have already found out in your own life, sometimes much better results come when learning from peers cooperating with you at solving a problem or issue than when learning the same subject matter from the lecturing of a supposed "expert", isolated from the actual problem and confined within the boring white walls of a traditional classroom.
Report from RCR news (December 25th 2006 page 20), highlighting the utility of mobile phones as an educational tool for infants:
A new study by PBS found cell phones may be useful as an educational tool. Eighty parents with children between the ages of three and four were given video enabled Sprint PCS phones and asked to listen to literacy tips and allow their children to watch streamed letter video clips at least three times a week for two months. The study was designed to test the level of acceptance of using cell phones for educational content to parents of preschool children. Parents surveyed during the study said the video increased their children’s knowledge of the alphabet and provided them with tools to help their children with literary skills.
People want "anytime, anywhere" connections more than ever before. Demands for information, performance support, instruction, training, and education are being shaped by people who want access to resources, assets, program, and people when and where they need those connections most. As more people gain greater comfort with simple mobile applications like SMS text-messaging and mobile Web-surfing, the greater will be the demand for broadband service. And as bandwidth increases and media players like Flash continue to improve users’ experiences, the more rapidly will mobile applications continue to increase in number.