By Dr. Robert L. Gordon
Program Director, Reverse Logistics Management at American Public University
During the past few decades in education, the mass production of computers and widespread Internet availability fueled the expansion of online education beyond what anyone could have imagined. Although brick-and-mortar universities initially resisted this change, the academic world accepts online education today.
For example, Ivy League universities resisted online education for years. There was a concern that a brick-and-mortar institution was the only way to achieve a quality education. Some universities pointed to the fact that online students might not be personally known by the professor and that would allow some people to be more academically dishonest.
Other institutions felt that online education did not offer a robust enough platform to allow for a quality educational experience. However, video, audio and online media have become so robust that this is no longer an issue. Now, they have finally embraced this trend and offer at least some online programs to remain competitive in the educational marketplace.
Mobile Learning Offers Students Greater Flexibility, Immediate Skill Growth
More recently, there has been a further shift in electronic learning (e-learning) to mobile learning (M-learning). Mobile learning allows individuals to develop new skills that can help them immediately in their careers.
A lot of mobile learning is self-paced, giving students the ability to learn when they can, rather than delaying their education indefinitely. Through apps, students have greater flexibility and more motivation to further their education. With self-paced coursework, students move through the material at a comfortable pace on their mobile devices, rather than their desktop computers, and have more flexibility in meeting the deadlines of the teaching institution.
Many universities understand the potential of mobile apps. These educational institutions offer students choices in regard to how they want to access the classroom and how to use other student services to meet their needs.
The widespread use of mobile devices means students have easier access to their university. A mobile device allows them to stay current with their classes and keep in touch with the university from anywhere. The greater access that a university provides to students through mobile devices, the more likely it is that students will develop a greater connection to that educational institution.
Mobile Learning Appearing at Non-Degree Institutions
Mobile learning’s biggest advantage to a university is its flexibility. As a result, mobile learning is having an impact on other instructional, non-degree institutions. Self-paced mobile learning at these institutions gives students an opportunity to earn badges, credentials, micro-credentials or new skills.
Mobile Learning Permanently Changing Academic Programs
This fundamental shift to self-paced and self-guided education seems like the correspondence courses of old. However, instead of students and instructors passing papers back and forth through the U.S. Postal Service, the material is no longer restricted to paper media. Streaming videos and interactive activities are now the new normal in online education and mobile learning.
How will universities and other institutions of higher education rise to the new challenge of adopting mobile learning? There are already many learning and teaching apps, like Coursera, that students can access to develop skills and knowledge more relevant to their careers.
As universities move toward credentials and micro-credentials, they can connect these mobile learning credentials to a certificate or degree. Stackable credentials make for an academic offering that combines the short-term recognition associated with credentials with the long-term value of a degree.
MIT already offers a free stackable supply chain credential that potentially leads to a graduate supply chain degree. Clearly, there are stipulations, program requirements and additional required brick-and-mortar courses. However, academic programs such as this MIT offering were unheard of just a few years ago.
Despite its challenges, mobile learning has created a huge opportunity not only for companies like online training providers Lynda and Udemy. Similarly, online universities willing to accept mobile learning should benefit from its advantages as well.
Academic Institutions Should Adopt Mobile Learning to Meet Market Demand
Educational institutions that waited too long to embrace online education had difficulty entering this area of academics for various reasons. Now, they have to pivot again to make a move towards mobile learning.
The concern is that some of these schools might again wait too long to embrace this new style of learning. Consequently, they could have serious issues about adopting self-paced mobile learning and be slow to fulfill the market needs of their students.
About the Author
Dr. Robert Lee Gordon is the program director for the Reverse Logistics Management department at American Public University. Robert has more than 25 years of professional experience in supply chain management and human resources. Dr. Gordon earned his Doctorate of Management and Organizational Leadership and his Masters of Business Administration from the University of Phoenix as well as earning a Bachelor of Arts degree in History from UCLA.