Behold, the future of education has gone portable
Today, we are using our iPods, Blackberries and MP3 players in more ways than ever before. These portable, digital devices, once primarily reserved for listening to music, watching videos, and sending and receiving quick instant messages, have now evolved into learning support tools that are now considered beneficial support tools for adult learning.
Many online colleges and universities are now encouraging adult students to utilize their mobile devices as valuable education tools, and in turn, they are setting up online lectures—via audio podcasts, video podcasts and using audio books. College instructors are also encouraging adult students to use mobile devices as ways to research or browse the Internet for online resources to use in class projects and term papers.
The future trend in mobile learning has opened new doors for adult students. Once confined to a college program due to location, class hours, or availability of courses, mobile devices have extended learning beyond school hours and geographical location. Suddenly, students can earn a degree online, from the comfort of their own homes—while maintaining full-time employment and family care responsibilities.
Why has mobile learning become such a popular trend?
The use of mobile technologies in schools increases student engagement as well as prepares students for the working world (where mobile devices are used as part of most jobs). The mobile learning trend evolved due to the fact that adult students returning to school are already dependent on these devices on a large scale. Instead of work against this natural dependence, educational institutions are combining mobile learning into online college and adult education courses and professional training programs.
How is mobile technology supporting adult education?
IPods, MP3 players and other mobile devices are providing students and college instructors with convenient access to online tools designed to support adult education in the following ways:
Mobile devices cut the costs of learning
An investment in mobile devices offers the ability to make college more affordable to adult students by:
- Extending learning beyond the classroom—via geographic location and school day hours
- Offers access to free online textbooks and other learning materials
Downloadable study guides and audio books make learning resources available for anyone
Study notes and audio books can suddenly be downloaded right from any mobile device and translated into various foreign languages. Not only that, but study notes and audio books can be provided for almost any course or subject—including education, humanities, court reporting, law, nursing, political science, science, business, marketing, and many, many more.
Downloadable learning tools save students a ton of money and time
Compared to buying an entire textbook, students can download only the chapter they need to do their assignment from an e-book.
Audio lectures and podcasts are available when the student needs them
College instructors and professors now have the option of recording a class lecture anytime and posting it for download to any iPod, Zune, MP3 player, or any other handheld device for their students to pick up from anywhere, anytime. This way, if you have a full time, day job, you can simply log on and listen when time permits in the evening or on weekends.
Improving teacher-student communication
There is little doubt that mobile learning makes teachers more productive as well. Instructors can post office hours online and speak to struggling students one-one-one via instant messaging if a student has a question or if the student is seeking an informal review of a paper or test. Mobile learning allows teachers to personalize instruction for each student—compared to lecturing to a classroom setting full of 30 students all at the same time.
Improving teamwork and collaboration between students
Communication via a mobile device allows students to collaborate beyond physical boundaries. This not only helps improve their critical thinking and problem solving skills; it also gives free form to idea-sharing so that normally reserved adult students can feel comfortable contributing to groups.