If you work in the education industry, you might have heard the term, "mlearning" once or twice. But what does it mean? And, is this a trend you should start to consider as technology increasingly  changes education standards nationwide?

Mlearning, or mobile learning is a term used to reference education or training conducted on (and delivered through) portable devices like smartphones, or tablets. A good example of mlearning would be the app that Coursera offers for its courses due to its compatibility with mobile format.

"Students reported the laptops enhanced learning by providing an equitable and accessible platform for seeking, recording and exchanging information, gave options for cognitive processing of information, were core to the curriculum and portable. The ability to use laptops in lectures and tutorials was valued." -Mobile Learning

The other day, we stumbled upon a peer-reviewed article by BMC Med Educ called "Evaluation of Mobile Learning." In it, they discuss the factors that play a role in making mlearning successful, as well as its educational impact from the perspective of students.

Over the years, more schools have started incorporating mlearning into their curriculum. However, access to mlearning is largely restricted by cost and also comes with drawbacks. If your school is considering implementing a project like this, make sure to check our list of main benefits and drawbacks.

Benefits
Non-Disruptive Interactivity in Lessons
Mlearning provides a way for educators to interact with students during a lecture period without a significant level of interruption. For instance, the teacher could poll his/her students during specific intervals of a lecture, and students could answer using a mobile applcation (much like using a clicker in class)

Mobile Learning Material
Students are able to take quizzes, revise lectures, submit homework, and receive immediate feedback on their performance. Moreover, all of this can be done anytime and anywhere at each student's pace, making their education more personalized.

Long-Distance Collaboration
Allows for transparent collaboration by empowering social negotiation space of group members. It also encourages members' mobility and  enables students to collaborate in groups through wireless network supporting social face-to-face communication.

Drawbacks
Responsive Design
Mlearning requires responsive web design to function optimally. Simply shrinking desktop e-learning onto a smartphone or tablet doesn’t provide the learner with the mobile experience they desire, which defeats the whole purpose of mobile learning.

Phone Battery Life 
Mobile phones require regular charging. This need for continuous charging is a significant impediment due to phones' short battery life, as well as a shortage of power sockets in teaching spaces. However, the matter of safety is critical when using power sources; it is important to ensure wires are not stretched across the classroom.

Distractions 
The problem with mobile learning is that it allows for distractions such as phone calls, e-mail alerts, and the knowledge that the user could easily be doing something else. Also, most mobile users have a short attention span due to consumption of bite-sized information and excessive skimming.

In the past two decades, mobile phones have become an inseparable part of our daily lives. Whether it’s connecting with friends, sending emails, finding routes – phones do it all! Mlearning has become a feature of many otherwise basic eLearning platforms and learning management systems.

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