M-Learning, MLearning, or mlearning: 3 Ways to Style it & One Concept that’s Here to Stay

Edudemic has written many articles about mobile learning (mLearning) devices and applications.  If you search the site via the search bar at the top right of the page using the keyword, “mobile learning,” you will receive two pages of results.  However, we haven’t spent much time talking about mlearning in a general sense.  This article attempts to fill that gap. 

However you style the shorted version of “mobile learning,” it has blown open the doors to knowledge in ways I never could have anticipated when I was an undergraduate student in the 90s.  The mobile learning trend has allowed me to acquire two Master’s degrees without having to walk on a university campus.  For that, I am grateful to those who have worked so hard to liberate learning from the classroom.

EDUCAUSE interprets M-Learning as

Using portable computing devices (such as laptops, tablet PCs, PDAs, and smart phones) with wireless networks enables mobility and mobile learning, allowing teaching and learning to extend to spaces beyond the traditional classroom.  Within the classroom, mobile learning gives instructors and learners increased flexibility and new opportunities for interaction.  Mobile technologies support learning experiences that are collaborative, accessible, and integrated with the world beyond the classroom (EDUCAUSE Editors, 2012).

This interpretation is probably the most comprehensive I have found while researching the topic.  Wireless networks are now ubiquitous.  There are many telecommuters now in all industries.  Employees often need access to a company’s network after hours and remote services allow them that access.

Online education has grown in popularity.  Many students enjoy 24/7 access to educational materials on campus.  They do not have to visit the library, for example, to read a journal article because most of the journals provide electronic versions of their articles and have digitized older articles.  Today, students can even attend classes using their iPad at one school with which I am familiar (Fudin, 2011).

Even elementary and secondary students can attend school from home and find almost all the resources they need (including their teachers) online.

MLearning has allowed lifelong learners the freedom to study without having to attend school, also.  OpenCourseWare, iTunesU, YouTube, and other services allow teachers to share information with the public.  For instance, the other day, when I needed to hone my algebra skills, I didn’t go to the storage unit and pull out my dusty College Algebra book.  Instead, I visited Khan Academy and had a great time re-learning long-forgotten equations and procedures.  Thank you, mobile learning advocates!

Another trend we can attribute to the popularity of M-Learning is the flipped classroom (Dunn, 2011).  In the flipped classroom, students prepare for class by watching recording lectures prepared by the teacher outside the classroom.  They engage in active learning when in class and the teacher acts as a facilitator.  John Dewey would be so happy to see such a pragmatic approach to education, to see more learning by doing.  Lev Vygotsky would be happy to see social learning in the classroom, for he believed that all learning is grounded in relationships.

While we often applaud the products of mobile learning, this post attempts to honor the concept itself.

Articles Cited

Dunn, J. (2011). What’s The Best Technology For Classrooms? Edudemic. Retrieved February 16, 2012, from http://edudemic.com/2011/12/tech-flipped/

EDUCAUSE Editors. (2012). M-Learning and Mobility. EDUCAUSE. Retrieved February 16, 2012, from http://www.educause.edu/ELI/LearningTechnologies/MLearningandMobility/12397

Fudin, S. (2011). College: There’s an App for that! | MAT@USC App. MAT@USC Blog. Retrieved February 16, 2012, from http://mat.usc.edu/college-theres-an-app-for-that-matusc-app/