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Mobile Learning Technology and Online Education in 2013

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By Gina Fredenburgh
Instructional Designer at American Public University

One of the most exciting developments in technology for learning is the increasing focus on the mobility of the learning experience.  Mobile learning (m-Learning) is not about devices, but rather about learning across contexts. Web content is optimized for display on the user’s device of choice, so that the Internet accompanies the user, not limiting access to discrete locations or times. The mobile device is a very personal choice and acts as an extension of the person’s reach into the community of study.

Today’s students expect that their education meets their personal needs, rather than yesterday’s approach of having the educator control the flow of information and emphasizing memorization. In addition, educators now must work with instructional designers, technologists, web developers, and others to realize their online courses, emphasizing a role as “guide on the side” rather than the more familiar “sage on the stage.”

Indeed, the “stage” per se does not exist in the world of distance learning. Collaborative approaches have become the expectation, mirroring the real world work situations that students likely face. Students now are often knowledgeable or skilled in the areas they are studying. The educator’s role is changing to that of a guide or facilitator. Mobile technologies can help provide an engaging learning environment for people whose focus is “just in time, just enough, and just for me.”  The possible benefits include:

  • Convenience and flexibility:  Learning is freed from the constrictions of space and time, on their schedules and using their preferred devices
  • Contextualization:  Relating learning activities to their unique situation and experience, satisfying the need for learning that is relevant and meaningful
  • Collaboration and communication:  Employing techniques to foster the deep learning and the strategies necessary for knowledge work
  • Constructive feedback:  Using various forms of feedback, particularly the value of immediacy in sharing information with their instructors and other students

Offering m-Learning opportunities allows instructors to manage learning, not just deliver it, and helps students gain useful experience in the valuable skills of knowledge gathering, collaboration, and networking.  Capturing learners’ attention requires going to where they are, rather than restricting them to specific times, places, or modalities.

 

About the Author:

Gina Fredenburgh is the Instructional Designer for the School of Public Service and Health at American Public University.  Prior to that, she analyzed technologies and services for Instructional Design and Development at the University. Gina has designed and developed professional software training, served as the executive director of a small technical school, and instructed post-doctoral fellows and laboratory staff while in the U.S. Navy.  She completed her bachelor’s degree online, and is finishing her master’s degree online as well.

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