In 2007, the iPhone appeared and changed everything. The Android phones quickly followed and thus was born – the ‘smart’ phone. In 2017, it is projected that almost 3 billion people will have a smart phone. With smart phones having full OS, they have access to everything from Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Social media is king but what about learning and education?

With such rapid growth, every institution and business must be able to deliver information and interaction with its services and products on a mobile device. Education must necessarily follow. Online and blended learning allows for asynchronous learning so users can choose their time and location of study within boundaries of the course. This makes a mobile device such as a smart phone the next instrument for learning.

Content can be mainlined to the user from any source in any format.

In Africa, a communications leapfrog occurred that bypassed cable infrastructure and went right to cellular. This means desktop computers will not be needed for most functions like email or browsing the web provided services exist in those areas.

In terms of education, use of technology allows distance learning, access from virtually anywhere and a cheaper method of acquiring education. It make sense to allow students to access at least part of their course through a mobile device with the available technology.

“Use of the mobile content tended to increase as learners spent more time in their day away from locations where Internet-linked computers could be found. Video was found to be the most effective means of presenting content, followed by audio and text. The most promising role of mobile learning appears to be to augment rather than replace e-learning or blended learning.” (Macdonald)

With smart phones, students still require information on target learning outcomes, study schedule, and instructions on how to access the mobile components of the course.

Formats for smart phone learning include:

  • Podcasts
  • Video or Youtube
  • Webinars and Meeting software

Considerations need to be made for screen size and readability so graphics and text documents have to be re-iterated in a mobile friendly format. Although flexible and convenient, it is limiting for writing papers and group assignments but good enough for taking a quiz. Smart phones also require some savvy to operate and to take advantage of all the features. Uptake is expected to increase as more smart phones are sold and technology advances in content delivery.

Macdonald, I. and J. Chiu (2011). “Evaluating the Viability of Mobile Learning to Enhance Management Training.”

Leave a Reply