Mobile phone in a new skin
Actual facts suggest that there are more than half billion operational mobile phones in the world. A major portion of this figure is attributed to the large percentage of tech savvy students around the world. Though mobile phones are not welcome in most classes, yet their potential to be a key learning tool is well recognized. Technology is upgrading itself by the hour and newer and newer versions of cell phones are reaching the customers. Today phones have evolved way above just a gadget for communication. They can support language lessons, graphics and animations of biological, chemical and physical processes and are better equipped to manage and transfer data than ever before. The mobile phone has all it takes to be the newest avatar of a classroom.
Computers and computing have been an integral part of learning since decades, but with the advent of the internet things have really flourished. The recent models of cell phones have promising new technologies embedded in them making them comparable to the Internet. The Internet-capable phones, smart phones and phones with PDA functionalities embedded in them have brought in a revolution that is comparable to the revolution brought about by e-learning in the realms of the Internet.
M-learning is actually e-learning through hand-held computational devices. These devices are tools for accessing content through interconnection or from databases stored locally in the sets. Today the web pages also have adopted different architectural forms to fit into hand-held computing devices. XML,XSLT,AXKIT,COCOON,AVANTGO etc. are some of the popular choices. The contents from the web are retrieved and converted into forms suitable for the digital phones. Different transcoding techniques like WAP etc. are used to translate the texts from one presentation language to the other. Though technology seems to be committed to make our lives simpler, there are certain problems with m-learning also. The absence of a proper signal can act as the spoilsport. Researches are on to solve the issue. Some soft wares have come up, but guaranteed success is yet a far cry. Other problems include illiteracy and student specific quarries. The biggest concern however is rooted in the very term “mobile”. While on the move, the user cannot devote his full attention to his phone, so learning cannot be continuous but intermittent. To solve this issue service providers are trying to make fragmented training modules.
The positive aspects of m-learning however outweigh the negative ones. Learning on a virtual platform attracts more learners as compared to real class rooms and there seem to be more collaborative dynamics between the instructor and learners.
M-learning being a comparatively new concept, a lot of research still needs to be done to develop the concept. To start with we need technologies that can bring about device independent learning systems so that learning is a privilege for all. Mobile connectivity is of utmost importance as without it the whole concept is useless. Last but not the least we need a paradigm shift. Older paradigms should be replaced by the new ones so that this revolution can actually take shape.