Mobile Learning Takes Hold
As online education gains popularity, start-ups and tech companies are experimenting with ways to make the process more reliable, intuitive and, most of all, convenient. In this edu-tech arms race, new trends are emerging: yes, in a move as predictable as computer-based learning itself, online education has gone mobile. It makes perfect sense, really. The increased use of smartphones, tablets, and laptops are helping mobile learning, or m-learning, become a part of the future of education, at least according to the site Edudemic. This article takes a look at some of the up-and-coming mobile education apps and explore how they may be changing education once again.
Trending now: mobile apps in education
Moodle on Your Mobile Device: According to Onlineschools.com, Moodle is an open-source management learning system. Moodle stands for "Modular Object-Oriented Dynamic Learning Environment" and provides students and professors with a free-of-charge e-learning platform. The platform offers students and teachers with a way to access course materials, submit assignments, and administer online quizzes and tests. Until fairly recently, Moodle wasn't necessarily easy to access on mobile devices, however. Of course, everything changed when the mobile app Educloud came along. According to the Providence Journal, Educloud makes Moodle available on-the-go by providing compatibility with mobile devices like tablets and smartphones. Thanks to Educloud, students can create their own fully functional and interactive educational environment at a moment's notice. Students using Moodle can now watch live video courses, interact through Moodle on social media, share files, and participate in course-based chats and forums from almost anywhere.
MOOCs On the Go: If you've read much about online higher education, you've likely heard about massive open online courses, called MOOCs. These classes help bring higher education to the masses by taking lectures and assignments from ivy-league schools and repackaging them into online courses that can be taken by, at times, tens of thousands of students simultaneously. UK-based Futurelearn is taking MOOCs a step further by creating a whole brand of the courses specifically for mobile devices. The mobile MOOC will provide a new learning opportunity for students who may be busy with work or family obligations. Although they're still in development, mobile MOOCs have the potential to increase educational opportunities for students who may not have the time to take traditional courses. Due to the mobility of the product, Futurelearn hopes to make it easy for students to squeeze in course work at any time of the day or night.
Learn a New Language with Duolingo: If you're interested in brushing up on your Spanish or learning a new language altogether, Duolingo can help you do just that… on your mobile device of course. The online language start-up recently released a new app for androids that helps students learn a new language through translation. Simply put, students with Duolingo use the app to translate phrases from one language to another. Duolingo is set up to be entertaining and interactive, with features setting it apart from other language courses. Much like a video game, getting a correct answer allows students to move onto the next level. Likewise, incorrect answers cause students to lose lives. As Pando Daily noted, Duolingo now has as many as 3 million users, 75 percent of them outside of the U.S. The app is completely free to use and geared toward people who may not be able to afford language lessons.
Mobile Learning Takes Hold: As mobile learning goes mainstream, some colleges and universities are climbing on board. One school that has become a trailblazer in terms of mobile education is Lambton College in Ontario, Canada. Starting this fall, the school will implement mobile learning in 10 of its full-time programs. According to The Observer, Lambton College decided to take the initiative in mobile learning so that students and teachers could communicate more effectively. The move will also help students at the school make use of electronic textbooks and apps that can improve their educational experience. Jim Elliott, acting vice-president academic at Lambton College, sees the move as supplementary to the role of educators. "This use of mobile technology is not a replacement for teachers," Elliott told The Observer. "It allows them on the go to reach outside the class."
Trends for the future: More mobile education apps to come?
It's not possible to see into the future, but with more people using mobile devices for everything from calling family members to checking bank balances to searching for news, it's not unimaginable to see an expanding role for these devices in education. It's no wonder. As Edudemic points out, the number of smartphones is on the rise, but sales of hardware (such as desktops) is decreasing.