Studying is no longer confined inside the four walls of the classroom. As iPhones, BlackBerrys, iPads and other devices grow in number, learning is becoming more mobile and easier for the average student. So what are the advantages and disadvantages of mobile learning? Is easier better?
Using smartphones and tablet computers, students have easy access to knowledge. They use their devices as supportive educational tools. They now have access to diagrams, articles, essays and other academic information which can improve student performance in the classroom.
We all know that when a teacher calls upon a student, the student gets the jitters, thinking that he or she might be in trouble. With mobile learning, communication between teacher and student is easy. It can even encourage shy students to communicate more openly when they are in class. Teachers can also use mobile devices to interact with students that require special attention.
No two students are the same. Each has their own way of absorbing information. Several educators note that each student requires different pedagogies or strategies for learning. Through mobile learning, students are able to learn in their own way. They can now personalize and enjoy learning.
Other than having access to educational tools online using their smartphones and tablet computers, students now have access to industry experts. Students can read reviews and blogs by field experts. They can also follow conferences and “webinars” (online seminars). They also now have a chance to interact with professionals even from their homes or classrooms. Using gadgets, they can overcome distance and expenses too.
More and more gadgets are being developed every day to help students with learning disabilities. Mobile technology can also benefit those with special needs. Now that there are several apps that cater to learning disabilities and physical impairments, we can say that learning-challenged students have a chance to be equal to those who are normal.
Cost is one great disadvantage of mobile learning. How can students be part of mobile learning if they do not have a mobile device? Devices cost around $100 to $500. Moreover, technology changes very fast. Students have to upgrade devices frequently. Other than the device, there are monthly data charges from mobile providers, so downloading large files not only takes time but also costs a lot.
Size of Device
The size of the gadget is also a disadvantage. It is so small that they can be lost or stolen easily. Moreover, the screen is just too small and it can strain the eyes of those who use it for a long period of time. Also, on a screen so small, only a small amount of information can be displayed.
Most gadgets only have about 2 to 4 hours of productivity. Once the battery runs out, the student will have to plug it in for recharging. Mobile learning is then no longer mobile.
Although technology is still progressing, what we have now is still limited. Most gadgets have limited storage for storing large or many files. A student has to spend more in order to have bigger storage space, and that goes back to the first disadvantage of mobile learning. Moreover, there are several operating systems or platforms out there. Content isn’t all equal. So if students are Apple users, they use iOS; if Android users, they only like Android.
Mobile devices are difficult to use because of the small buttons. They can be tricky to use even for students. Although detachable keyboards are available, that costs money.
Although mobile learning can really help a student in studying, it can be limiting in such a way that only the privileged few can afford having a mobile device. Yes, smartphones and tablet computers are great tools for learning, but then again, students have to consider the budget to see if mobile learning is really worth it or not.