Mobile learning is one of the most popular concept in today’s education. What is it really? Why is mobile learning so popular? What are its characteristic features? Does it bring any benefits to the student and the teacher and if so, what are those benefits? How to introduce mobile devices to the classroom and to the school? What educational applications are highly recommended? Olga Nerc, Marketing Specialist at Young Digital Planet, will try to answer all these questions and more.

What is mobile learning?
Mobile learning consists in using applications that contain educational content and were designed especially for learning purposes or programs that help to conduct lessons and organise various educational projects. Mobile learning can also be understood as an implementation of handheld devices – tablets and smartphones – to reach educational goals such as for example field trips, projects, team work, collaboration, research, experiments, competitions, etc.

Why is mobile learning so popular?
First of all the reason of its growing popularity is in fact a growing number of handheld devices owned by people around the world. Let me just mention a few figures:

  • According to the Online Publishers Association (OPA) and the number of tablet users in the USA is on the rise, in the year 2012 the number of tablets is estimated at 74 million, by the year 2013 this figure is expected to increase with a projected 117.4M users owning tablets.

  • The rising statistics do not relate only to the U.S. but also to other countries such as for example Poland. In the year 2010 there were 10 000 tablets in use in our country, by the end of the year 2012 there are going to be 370000 of them. (source: GfK Polonia)

  • According to Mobile Retail in Russia Report prepared by MTS (Mobile TeleSystems OJSC, a leading telecommunications group in Russia) the number of smartphones sold in Russia in the year 2011 reached 8 million and by the end of the third quarter of the year 2012 the number was estimated at 8.5 million pieces sold.

  • The global statistics for the future estimate that tablet sales to End Users is Expected to Reach 248.6 Million Units by 2015, Smartphones Sales to End Users Will Reach 1,048 Million Units by 2015: (source: Transparency Market Research)

Of course, there are also other reasons for mobile devices popularity: the fact that they are innovative and they allow you to keep books, documents, favourite applications and games in one small, light device. They simply make life easier.

What are the advantages of using mobile devices for students?

  • Nowadays students are digital natives and such devices as tablets and smartphones are natural part of their lives – they allow them to keep in touch with their friends, they are a source of entertainment and they provide them with all the latest news. That is why the process of implementing handheld devices used in private life into the classroom is smooth and natural.

  • Using those devices is attractive for students and that is what education should be like, shouldn’t it?

  • Another advantage of using mobile devices is instant access to knowledge, data bases, various valuable education applications that make learning attractive, easy, interesting, entertaining and available anytime, anywhere, simply on the go.

  • Mobile learning gives students a possibility to collaborate with one another, learn team work, solve problems, carry out projects, etc.

  • Mobile learning teaches students to value technology and allows them to achieve technological proficiency that will be useful in their future jobs.

What are the advantages of mobile learning for teachers?

  • Using mobile devices for teaching raises students’ engagement and involvement during classes and reduces “classroom seat time”.

  • Mobile applications are a source of valuable content and provide teachers with thousands of top quality, ready-made resources organised in lessons with presentations, exercises, films, animations, simulations, audio files, digital textbooks with interactive assets, etc. (like for instance mobile Comprehensive Curriculum and mSkills English, both created by YDP).

  • Mobile applications help to teach lessons in an interesting way. Let me mention just a few of such helpful solutions:

  1. Socrative – a smart student response system that empowers teachers to engage their students in a series of educational exercises and games via smartphones, laptops, and tablets.

  2. Voicethread, which is great for ice-breaker assignments, mini-lectures, group work, FAQ’s and substantive feedback.

  3. Google Docs, which enables teachers to carry out projects, encourage students to do some collaborative work, to chat or create common presentations and makes it possible for teaches to see each student’s progress and involvement.

  4. Dragon Dictation is an app that enables students to dictate words and phrases to their tablets and it types what it “hears”.

  5. With the Assemblee app for iPads students can create a collaboration web to share findings and discuss conclusions about different perspectives of the same project.

Practical question - how to implement mobile devices into schools? There are many schools whose teachers have already taken the decision to use tablets or smartphones during classes. But beforehand they asked themselves many questions and thoroughly thought over the process of implementation.

Jac de Haan, Technology Integration Specialist from Seattle, USA, shares a powerful example of tablets implementation at The Westside School. First of all, the team responsible for the project prepared students for using new technologies. The students had to understand why their school decided to use tablets. Second of all their parents were informed about the idea of the project. The students, along with their assistants, were asked to sign a document, in which they agreed to use the devices in accordance with the school's acceptable use policy, to take good care of the devices and they were informed about warranty and insurance. Then the students were exposed to the potential of the technology – they had to complete different assignments and were taught how to use tablets. Eventually, the devices started to be handed out at the beginning of each class and had to be returned at the end. After three weeks of being taught how to handle their iPads with responsibility and respect, the students were allowed to take the devices with them from one class to another. Then the implementation process was continued and the students could use the iPads for the whole week leaving them at school for weekends so they could be fixed and updated. At the end of the whole process the students were granted full responsibility for their devices and were provided with the technical support at school.

For more information, please contact Olga Nerc, Marketing Specialist at Young Digital Planet.

About Young Digital Planet
Young Digital Planet is one of the world’s leading educational eContent publishers and eLearning technology providers with a strong global presence. Since 1990, Young Digital Planet has been at the forefront of new technologies developing a range of educational learning solutions and services that meet evolving needs of customers in the publishing, educational and governmental sectors. Young Digital Planet is part of the Strategic Business Unit Sanoma Learning.

About Sanoma Learning
Sanoma Learning is a leading European provider of learning materials and solutions in print and digital format. We provide solutions that support teachers in their everyday work. These solutions enable personalised learning and increase teacher’s efficiency by automating non-essential tasks, which frees up time for actual teaching. Sanoma Learning is part of the Sanoma Group, a strong European media group operating in diverse fields of media in some 20 countries.