The first thing I did, as an ardent fan of technology in the century of smartphones, did was to go on Google (of course!) and type in the words “mobile learning”. No surprise there. In a very unambiguous way, Google explained to me the technical meaning of it.
M-learning or mobile learning is defined as “learning across multiple contexts, through social and content interactions, using personal electronic devices.”
Now isn’t that something! Do you see the irony here? The basic act of just taking out your phone to browse through Google and glance over the topic to understand what it actually means, is irony at its best. Most of us know what mobile learning is, since the time smart phones came out in the market, but the mere act of just opening the phone and browsing through a topic and getting a clear picture is what makes mobile learning so relevant today. Before the phenomena of mobile learning, we have used to paper laden books that made us read, and read a lot! But we compromised quite a bit on convenience. It is 2017, carrying a book around so you could glean off information about something is time consuming, nerve wracking and to be honest, very annoying. Searching for some particular information off books can now be avoided, especially when you have technologies like handheld computers, MP3 players, notebooks, mobile phones and tablets that make your life easy, and of course is not time consuming.
To quote Nelson Mandela:
“If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.”
Localized content should retain its original meaning, objectives, and must be perfectly tailored for the needs of the people and culture of the locals. Criteria such as familiarity with the culture, subject matter expertise and presentation style is what is needed to make the best of localised mobile learning. When it comes to language localisation in particular, various contents mentioned in online courses provided by mobile learning, has to be engaging and should suit the learning needs of multiple cultures and ethnic groups. Localisation itself means “adapting a product that has been previously translated into multiple languages to a specific country or region”. It is an important requirement if globalisation is kept in mind, especially in a pluralistic society like India.
A country like India consisting of a myriad of languages, various cultures, and beliefs, is in dire need of such technological factors which localise informative topics and translates it into the required regional language. It makes the whole process of mobile learning easier and user friendly. Therefore localisation, via mobile learning, involves a comprehensive study of the target culture in order to correctly adapt the product to local needs.
- 50%of the countries within the Top 10 for downloads and revenue in iOS App Store are non-English speaking countries from Europe and East Asia.
- 80%of the countries within the Top 5 for downloads and revenue in Google Play are non-English speaking countries from Europe and East Asia.
- App revenue in Asia increased by162% year-over-year (2012 to 2013), while North America’s revenue grew by 46%.
Students, before the beginning of the mobile learning revolution , would have never thought that there could be an easier way to learn about new topics, and that too in a fun way. The devices are more lightweight than books and computers.
The best part about mobile learning through devices is that it serves as an added tool for students with special needs, for whom the daily demands of manually checking for facts and learning quickly is not a privilege as it is for a person with no special needs. Now let’s think about the cost saved. The financial aspect of it is what makes it even more attractive in today’s times, as the cost of mobile devices are significantly less than PCs and laptops. The cost of training the students has reduced from the old times, as everything can be done with a quick click of the button.
Many jobs nowadays entail lesser desk time, not having dedicated computer systems, therefore mobile learning for such jobs is a boon. The devices that come handy for professional situations like, iPads, tablet PCs, iPhones, and smartphones, are a relief for when time crunch scenarios arise. Different browsers like Android, Chrome, and Opera Mini are the most commonly used browsers that are user friendly as well as swift as far as technology goes. It provides you with the ability to access educational content whenever convenient, especially for the younger generation who have a lot going on in their daily lives. Taking breaks from mundane activities, pausing in between to make use of mobile learning is what makes it stupendous.
It is a continuous learning process, a phenomenon if you will, that is not limited to the children but also to the people who belong to the age category of 40 to 60 years. They make use of hand held devices, touch screen notebooks, to get engaged in the fun inducing mlearning process, or even get in touch with their grandchildren within a minute or two. Facebook, Twitter, Skype and other social media enables people to constantly be in touch with others around them, including their family, so they never feel isolated. Online courses can be fun, informative and helps them learn a lot and gather information that was not possible during their times.
Developing countries have a large demography of women who have the thirst for education and the desire to gain knowledge about topics, but do not have the basic and necessary resources to physically go and achieve such a feat. This is where mobile learning gives way. These courses give them a new a way of freedom, a sense of independence, that otherwise requires a lot of effort, thus they achieve professional breakthrough, change their career related destiny, in turn breaking gender boundaries.
Various start-ups make use of mobile learning:
- Toppr.com is a digital ed-tech start up based out of Mumbai that aids students in online test preparations for entrance exams.
- Since its inception in 2007, Meritnation, one of the largest online education platforms in India, has delivered helpful and interesting content to students making studies easier for them.
MLearning materials are not limited to just educational aspects but they also encompass valuable, practical know-how, from anyone trying to become a chef showing how to prepare traditional recipes to companies demonstrating good corporate citizenship.
Online learning courses have also changed the way pupils conduct themselves, changing the dynamics between them. No more is a child entirely dependent on his teacher for every pedantic detail, but has a more elaborate view about his surrounding, the world and every topic that enhances his mental and emotional growth. Exposure to programming and audio-video production information from a young age enables them to be creative and knowledgeable, thus creating their own unique paths and forming their very own point of view on various topics. An 11 year old in this generation can probably very well explain to his parents about the various health hazards that they may be ignoring, or other educational aspects that his parents may not be aware of.
From an altruistic point of view, many mobile learning courses providing companies have a tie up with non-profit organizations, which provide general citizens with free online courses, providing them the opportunity to better understand distance learning.
The key to successfully make use of mLearning revolution is not only about initialising prevailing educational systems. The actual appeal is letting people choose their own paths, leverage their skills, and follow their passions and calling. MLearning has a lot of potential in business and educational sense, but the most exciting and rewarding aspect is that students of any age or background can have the chance to pursue topics that are relevant and pragmatic to achieve in their own lives.
Thus mobile learning enhances the learning experience in day to day activities, helps in educational aspects, intensifies the localisation characteristics etc. this technological miracle is surely here to stay for a very, very long time.
Summa Linguae Technologies