In my presentation, I aimed to highlight the multitude of contexts in which mobile technologies can be used to support learning and training, both formal and informal learning. With the purpose of providing a broader picture of m-learning, I ensured to present a range of mobile technologies, starting from “dumbphones” and feature phones (used by the majority of mobile users in developing countries) to wearable technologies. The uses of well-designed mobile learning are limitless…under one condition: such learning with mobile devices has to be designed with specific purpose in mind for a specific group of learners in their unique educational/training environment, there is no one-size-fits-all solution.
Amongst the many m-learning contexts I illustrated in my talk, the audience seemed to take utmost interest in the discussion of the potential of m-learning in developing countries. Indeed, mobile learning goes far outside the classroom and expands into various aspects of our life and the most remote areas, both geographically and conceptually. It has the potential and responsibility to bring learning to the hard-to-reach and those experiencing socio-economic, cultural, and ecological uncertainty, both in developed and developing countries. The capabilities of mobile technologies, on their own or blended with other sustainable technologies, have opened up opportunities for transformational change – change that can stem from personal, vocational, cultural, economic, social, and civic developments brought about by m-learning. The exponential growth in mobile penetration and handset ownership across the globe (mentioned in our earlier posts) together with expanding mobile network coverage, set up the stage for m-learning to help in overcoming the global learning challenges.
Formal and informal learning via mobiles provides a vehicle for individuals and groups in crisis situations to access information and knowledge that might be critical to their well-being and even survival. Some examples of mobile used in bringing relief to people include those affected by natural disasters, warfare and conflict, economic shocks, ill health, discrimination, and violence. Mobile devices can thus open doors to equity and welfare by connecting people to aid, resources, advice, supports, and by giving them a voice. They can also facilitate equitable access to quality education for children, youth, and adults, by offering them assistance in acquiring literacy, numeracy, essential life- and lifelong learning skills.
The numerous challenges related to barriers to accessibility, inadequate technology infrastructure and lack of digital literacy have to be considered… and will be discussed in a future post.