M-learning or mobile learning is defined as learning in several contexts through personal electronic devices such as mobile phones, tablets etc. M-learning is a kind of distance education in which mobile devices are used for learning, at the convenience of the user.
Some of the devices used in this type of learning are MP3 players, lap tops, tablets, note book computers and mostly mobile phones. The crux of this method is portable technology. When mobile tools are used to create and deliver learning material, they become a crucial element of informal education.
The best quality about M-learning is its convenience- it can be accessed from anywhere. The learner can get instant tips and feedback since there is instantaneous sharing among everyone accessing same content. This robust method has been proved to improve exam scores and reduce drop –out from technical courses. M-learning negates the need for books and notes, which are cumbersome to carry and maintain.
M-learning has enabled education to break from classrooms and happen anywhere and everywhere. It is one step ahead of e-learning that it can be done anywhere where there is a mobile signal.
Handheld devices in M-learning are revolutionizing the process of transmission of information. No longer are they used only for making phone calls but also for exchanging learning content. Even in the classroom, mobile devices can be used for group collaboration, student centred learning, video features and interactive displays.
Some of the advantages of M-learning in mobile education applications are:
- It negates the need for cumbersome books, manuals and visual aids.
- Multi-mode and interactive technology permits students to manipulate information.
- Mobile devices connected to Wi Fi enable access to on-demand information.
- Mobile devices enable learning inside and outside class room.
M-learning is also useful in the work environment for:
- Just-in-case learning: This is learning for work wherein training courses prepare learners for future tasks related to work. Example is mobile compliance training where training is intended for geographically diverse taskforce or logistics and transport staff who are mobile.
- Just-in-time learning: This occurs in informal settings at the workplace. For instance, medical staff can hone their skills. Learningoccurs by interacting with peers who are at long distance.
- Cross-contextual learning: This has the highest potential for work based M-learning. The importance of mobile phone enabled learning practices lies in the reconciliation and integration of work-based learning and experiences of formal education which otherwise are separated.
These are the uses of M-learning in education and training.