The Two Major Factors When Designing M-learning Lessons

M-learning is poised to be the “next big thing” in higher education and in employee training. While educators know what m-learning is, there is considerable confusion about how to use it effectively. Three often overlooked factors when creating m-learning modules or lessons are technology, time, and the learning environment.

Smartphones and Tablets – Similar to classroom or e-learning delivery methods, the technology must be taken into account. This goes beyond how educators use technology, but must focus on how and where learners will receive the learning modules.

The increasing use of smartphones and tablets allows learners to learn on-the-go, at a time that is convenient to them, and using the latest technology.

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Long Live Knowledge Application

Cellphone use in the classroom has been a topic of debate for over a decade. It’s time that educators stop fighting technology, change their approach to teaching and embrace the evolving of students learning.

Today’s classrooms, just like today’s training rooms, are the not the same as they were in previous generations. Lectures, endless note taking, and death-by-PowerPoint need to be replaced with interactive, device-driven learning episodes.

Memorizing large chunks of information is useless in today’s knowledge-everywhere society. Smartphones, tablets, and laptops can easily be used to find information when it’s needed. Simple memorization of facts should no longer be the evaluation tool of educators, but rather the application of knowledge should be the new learning standard.

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Using Reflection to Help M-Learners Retain Knowledge

Reflection is a key component in the majority of learning situation. Reflection helps the learner understand how the new material relates to previous learnt material and experiences. It also allows the learner make the learning experience personal. While time for reflection is built into classroom learning situation, it is often overlooked in m-learning.

Whether an m-learning module is used to support classroom or e-learning initiatives, or if it is part of an entire m-learning course, educators and instructional designers should always provide reminders of key points in future lessons.

In m-learning, this method is rather simple: Pushing reminders, checklists, questions, or key terms on a smartphone to the learner throughout the course. An example of a reminder to an education student may be a list of categories in the cognitive domain of Bloom’s taxonomy.

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M-Learning Compliment Classroom Teaching

A Long Beach California high school made headlines last week because they are piloting a program where textbook are not used and algebra students use their class notes and an iPad app to help them study for exams.

As the world become increasingly digitized, schools, instructors, and curriculum designers are quickly catching on to adapting their “tried and true” methods and embracing mobile devices.

As a curriculum designer, I find this to be similar to Star Trek’s voyage to where no one has gone before. The possibilities are seemingly endless, but so are the pitfalls. My biggest concern is the increasingly short attention span of learners. Apps seem to naturally feed this very common disease, but complimenting apps with classroom work is a perfect way to engage students.

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Predictions in Higher Education for 2011

I would be remiss if I didn’t join the rest of the world with predictions for 2011. Of course my predictions are centered on adult education, which is seeing an increasingly fast-paced evolution. Therefore, it shouldn’t be a surprise that all of my four predictions are technology based.

ELearning has come into its own in the last few years, but there is a bit of backlash, especially from students who need some structure and interaction to learn. Therefore my first predication is an increase in blended learning.

Blended learning offers learners the best of both worlds. Learners are able to access files, podcasts, and webinars online in addition to physically attending a class or training session. The technological aspects are a value added to facilitator led instruction.

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Striking a Balance Between M-learning, E-learning, and Classroom Learning

M-learning is the new wave of education and training, but while organizations are, for the most part, thrilled with the new and cheaper mean so delivering learning material, is seems that little thought has been put into how the learners feel about it.

The traditional classroom did not work well for some students, but it offered a variety of delivery methods, such lecture, experiential and collaborative learning. The set times of class, and the often times rigid seating structure served us well for decades, but some students, such as those with even mild learning disabilities, social issues, or short attention spans, did not get the full benefits of classroom learning.

M-learning, similar to eLearning, is no different. It caters to specific learning styles and to different personality styles. For example, a highly extroverted, social person may find the lack of other learners in the m-learning environment to be detrimental. In addition, learners with short attention spans may simply lack the ability to focus on m-learning, even though m-learning specifically use small learning chunks.

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