Mobile learning: Technology that will take the classroom into the world.

"It is no longer what you remember, but how well you can search."


Overview of Mobile learning
Handheld devices grow exponentially while becoming more affordable and even ubiquitous due to the demand for games, business communications, and in general the connected lifestyle of the wireless society. These devices have opened a door to learning on the go which we now call M-Learning.

Benefits of M-Learning

M-Learning encourages “anywhere, anytime” learning
Promote and improve social interactions and encourage collaboration: Mobile technologies allows for interaction between students as well as interaction with instructors. They have the power to promote and foster collaboration and communication. Handheld devices enable several students work together on assignments even while at distant locations.
· Fit within learning environments and bridge the digital divide: Mobile devices can help overcome many of the challenges associated with larger technologies, as they fit more naturally within various learning environments.
· Portability: PDAs are small and light, they enable the student to or input data directly into the device regardless of location
Address individual learning needs by: Increase student motivation: Ownership of the handheld devices seems to increase commitment to using and learning from it. Reach underserved students: The low cost and accessibility make handheld devices attainable for in low- income/disadvantages communities. Engaging learners: Enable a personalized learning experience as well as able to meet the needs of a wide range of learners.

Disadvantages of m-learning devices
· Small screens of mobile phones and PDAs
· Limited storage capacities in PDAs
· Battery life/charge
· Lack of common operating system/ hardware platform make it difficult to develop content for all.
· Limited potential for expansion with some devices
· Devices can become out of date quickly
· Wireless bandwidth may be limited
· Difficulties with printing, unless connected to a network

Design Considerations for Mobile Learning

Given the smaller screen size, lower storage capabilities and bandwidth of mobile devices, design plays an important part in the learning process. Some guiding principles for designing mobile learning are:
· Use smaller chunks of text – Due to the small screen size of the mobile devices it is a good practice to use the least amount of text. Multimedia rich content is more suited than textual content. Use concept maps, visual representations and audio instead of text.

· Avoid horizontal scrolling – Horizontal scrolling is rarely advised for a regular course, let alone for a course delivered on a much smaller screen. Reduce graphic size to ensure it displays correctly in the lowest screen size. Layer content so that a horizontal scroll may be avoided.

· Avoid use of resources that require downloading plug-ins – Learners avoid having to download or installing an application to access a course. . In fact, when learners need to install a plug-in in order to view the content, they do so only 10% of the time. (Rosen, 2008).