Mobile devices redefine technology in education
MUHAMMAD AL FAIZVI
DOHA TO START this topic, it seems appropriate to first define and explain the word “hand-held” as I presume most readers may not be aware of the word yet. Hand-held devices are those portable devices that can be held in one’s hands, pockets of shirts or jackets or in ladies’ bag.
It is not a laptop, but a device with 3G or wireless connection connectible to the internet.
Examples of hand-held devices are mobile phone, personal digital assistants (PDA’s), tablets, game consoles etc.
Mobile or hand-held technology is essential in everyday life - in homes, educational institutions, factories, offices, sports, health & law enforcements and all other fields of life.
Hand-held learning may be characterised as an extension of e-learning. Hand-held learning is spontaneous, situated, portable, text-aware, light weight and personal. Many researchers believe that mlearning is a step towards making educational process “just in-time, just enough and just for me”. Technically e-learning requires bandwidth but handheld can work on GPRS, 3G or on Bluetooth.
Hand-held learning which may be referred to as mobile learning is more “learner centric”.
In this, students have responsive and active role and they have choices “what to do?”, “how to do?” and “when to do?” In this learning, although teachers play an important role but they remain to be on the most outer shell of the learning structure.
Hand-held technology emphasises on integrating learning across the curriculum. It also creates a practice in students to emphasise on query based learning. They use email, ebooks, photographs, videos, websites and blog discussions for learning experiences.
Being student centric, the teacher only acts as a mentor or facilitator.
According to a researcher O Malley et al, hand-held or mobile learning may be defined as “any sort of learning in which the learner is not at a fixed or predetermined place”.
Mobile learning has many different definitions and is known by many different names, like m-learning, u- Learning, personalised learning, learning while mobile, ubiquitous learning, anytime/anywhere learning, and hand-held learning. No matter what you call it, mobile tools are here to stay.
Hand-held technology provides students multimedia access for reading materials like word documents, PDF files and web files. They can also access the images, videos, audios and other interactive learning objects to enrich their knowledge.
Another important factor of m-learning is visibility as Tufte said, “Visuals can communicate complex ideas with clarity, precision, efficiency and the most knowledge in the shortest time in smallest space”.
In plain words, we can say that hand-held devices help to represent the key concepts of any discipline in visual and interactive formats that leads to the deeper understanding of the subject. Moreover, you can get the information from anywhere at anytime.
As a connectivity tool hand-held is used every where, students use this to exchange files, SMS, MMS and phone to each other for communication, it is also used for video conferencing to discuss important topics in the presence of a teacher or without his presence.
In student projects, handheld are very useful. For example taking pictures and making videos for projects, attaching the pictures with their notes, audio recording, using GPS for locations and using special software for capturing data.
Using hand-held devices in education for the purpose of analysis has also increased; entering data in pre-designed spreadsheets, using calculators and special analysis software for handhelds has made m-learning more responding and efficient.
Students use hand-helds as a representation tool.
Sketching diagrams for science, drawing graph for financial analysis, sketching information on captured images is now a common thing for students and this skill is increasing day by day.
In all the above aspects, we can say that it redefines the relationship between technology and learners.