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Digital Learning: Mobile or M-learning - Part 3

This is the third in our series on Digital Learning: Learning Without Limits where we examine the evolving nature of learning and its effect on individuals and organisations and the workplace.

Today's growing demand for mobile learning has been driven by our love affair with mobile devices and our increasingly unsettled working patterns. ILX Group’s Digital Learning for Business Report shows that this is prompting organisations to turn their back on PCs and projectors and turn towards mobiles as vehicles for learning. Gartner estimates that mobile devices will overtake PCs next year as the most commonly used devices to access the Web. The Harvard Business Review quotes IDC statistics which indicate that nearly half the world’s workforce will work remotely by 2015. As we are a learning- and student-centred organisation, it won’t surprise you to learn that we have been ahead of the mobile curve for some time with our digital learning programmes transforming the way people learn PRINCE2 Foundation and Practitioner, and much more.

  • Definition: mobile/ˈməʊbʌɪl / adjective usually before a noun

    1. Capable of being moved easily and quickly that is not fixed in one place.

  • Definition: learning/ˈləːnɪŋ / noun

    1. The process of acquiring knowledge from reading or studying.

Mobile learning or m-learning can be described as any form of learning that does not require the learner to be in one fixed space or time. Usually it is accessed through mobile devices such as smartphones or tablets.

Advantages: That learning on the move frees one from the constraints of time and space - the old 'any time, any place' promise - is well recognised and well documented. Less well known, perhaps, is that mobile learning is about more than the physics of it; it's about the real-world.

Project managers can learn PRINCE2 principles and apply them at the same time as they continue to run projects at work. Students can seek advice from, and collaborate with, fellow students and instructor, or instructors, on the go using Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+. Learning providers can customise and differentiate learning for you. Mobile learning can also make learning more accessible to all. Those on limited funds or those with mobility problems do not need access to sophisticated equipment and do not need to attend a physical venue thus saving expense and difficulty.

Disadvantages: Despite its many advantages there are issues. Some say that mobile is just e-learning on a phone, that the screens are too small, that the non-tech savvy students will be unable to use the equipment and will feel isolated. Some say that the nature of mobile means that it is hard to concentrate and that it is not suitable for the serious business of learning. Others fear that they will suffer health problems or will find their data and privacy compromised. Still others have issues about the cost of devices and the correlation between cost and storage capacity, functionality, operating system, battery life and the size of the screen. We don’t have an answer to all these concerns but we have put together some questions and answers that we hope will take the fear factor out of mobile learning for you.