MOBILE LEARNING OBSTACLES
Smart phones are now the most highly utilized screens in the world with over 4.9 billion users in 2018 (source: Statista). Mobile phones have taken on such paramount importance in our daily lives that they now feel indispensable and it is unthinkable not to use them each day. Now a long way from its initial purpose which was to make and receive phone calls, they are now used for a myriad of professional and personal needs. It therefore is not surprising that organizations (companies, universities, etc.) are integrating mobile devices into their training and educational programs more than ever which has become known as m-learning. The question now becomes: what barriers exist for this type of online learning?
Just to recap, m-learning – or mobile learning – is the dissemination of training support on a mobile device (mobile phone or tablet). These can take on a variety of forms such as text, video, audio, etc. Thanks to this type of remote training, it allows for “greater opportunity for timing, location, accessibility and context of learning” (John-Harmen Valk et al.)
M-learning is still in its infancy and certain technological and educational challenges have been identified by users:
Technologies, protocols and policies that provide security and privacy in networked applications have to be improved and adjusted to take into account the new uses and requirements of m-Learning.
- Size of screen: any developed content must be able to adaptable to different screen sizes. Authoring tools are getting better at responsive design, however, not all content can be adapted to be read via mobile devices.
- Security: The security of devices, content and personal work spaces is a recurring concern. Technologies, protocols and policies that provide security and privacy in networked applications have to be improved and adjusted to take into account the new uses and requirements of m-learning.
- Breach of privacy: was another expressed reluctance given that malicious people could use mobile devices for defamation.
- Connectivity difficulties: problems relating to the connection, especially the speed provided by the operators, the problems of upgrading the IT support at university level such as the wireless connection to the local networks, the personalized access to the spaces digital, etc.
- Fragmentation of learning: this type of learning requires concentration and reflection, but the learner may be distracted when walking on the street or in transportation. Learning can be fragmented, so it is important to design applications that take this constraint into account.
In light of these obstacles, some persuading will be required to convince a company to carry out a mobile learning project in companies: stress the importance of mobility (new uses, omnipresence of screens, etc.); co-construction with collaborators; and the animation of the community of learners.
The development of mobile learning does not seem to be slowed down by the challenges mentioned and it represents a viable option in terms of learning. And even if it is not possible today to replace e-learning by m-learning, the development of tablets and adapted content could change that landscape in the years to come…
Caroline Irrmann, web editor