What is Mobile Learning? Advantages and Disadvantages of mLearning

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Mobile Learning

Everyone is glued to their smartphones. Our lives revolve around them as we use our smartphones for almost everything. Smartphones enable a significant number of aspects of our lives. From enabling communication with friends and family and online shopping, ordering food, playing games, to consuming news, binge-watching our favorite series, and so on. 

Clearly, the convenience associated with smartphones isn’t the only factor driving their popularity. We love our smartphones. That’s a fact. 

Smart businesses can use this information to their advantage. In this article, we will discuss one such application of smartphones- online training. 

Can we use our smartphones for learning?

Yes, you can certainly use your smartphones for learning. In fact, it is quickly becoming the preferred way to consume learning content, thanks to the incredible accessibility offered by smartphones and tablets.

What is Mobile Learning?

Mobile Learning, also known as mLearning, is anywhere and anytime learning that is supported by mobile devices. The learning content can be accessed to learn whenever and wherever you want, as long as you have a smartphone connected to the internet.

Receiving education and training in the past was only possible in a physical classroom led by an instructor. But, today with mobile learning, or mLearning, it has become possible for learners to access the learning content from their devices, such as – smartphones or tablets. In some cases, the learners can even download the course content or assignments and can upload their completed tasks in a flash.

With mLearning, the learners even have unlimited access to the content which is also the easiest way for learners to get help. A lot of organizations, along with those in the education sector, have started supporting and accepting the concept of mobile learning and eLearning. They encourage their learners to use their smartphones or laptops for learning and training.

Mobile learning is beneficial for, and can also be taken by the learner of any age and from any background, for example – youngsters, adults, students, scholars, employees, managers, customers, partners, etc.

There are many advantages of mLearning, but there are also some disadvantages of mLearning, which can be dealt with to ensure the most productive learning experience. Everything has two sides, in this article; we have tried to offer a balanced view of both the advantages and disadvantages.

Advantages of mLearning

  • Cost-Effective

Since everyone uses smartphones and carries one everywhere, every day, they can also use the same devices for learning and training. This makes online training cost-effective for the organizations, as they do not have to spend money on buying devices dedicated to training and development.

  • Anywhere and Anytime Learning

The best part of mobile learning is that the learners don’t have to follow a set schedule to learn something. The learners can even access the content even after they have left the company premises, they can take up the course while one bus, or train, sitting in a café, or even at night. The learners are carrying their learning material with them in their pockets. Waiting time, like – waiting for a bus, train, or flight can be used more productively with mLearning.

  • Dynamic Learning

The course creators can have multiple options with mLearning to create a dynamic and engaging learning experience. They can share images, audio and video files, presentations, texts, links, YouTube videos, etc. This process makes the learning stronger and the learners become more confident with the course they have been taught on their mobile phones. mLearning encourages collaborative learning, the learners can connect to complete a given task. Taking online tests becomes more exciting with gamification features that can be added to the mLearning course content. This helps in keeping the learners engaged and motivated.

  • Supports Global Learning

mLearning covers enormous distances, for example – learners sitting in different countries or continents across the globe can access the same course content, tests, and assignments, at the same time or at a time convenient for them. Distance and time zones don’t matter in mobile learning.

  • Better Course Completion and Performance Rate

mLearning is designed in a way that the learners are encouraged to stay connected and engaged, thus leading to a better course completion rate. Moreover, when mobile learning is combined with microlearning with bite-sized course content, the output is an incredible increase in engagement. As mentioned above, mLearning supports collaborative learning; this is beneficial for today’s generation of learners as they enjoy the collaboration that results in better performance because learners remain engaged with the course content.

  • Free and Abundant  Knowledge

There is a plethora of information and knowledge available online, in the forms of – audios, videos, written content, graphical images, and whichever form you want the information in. Mobile technology has evolved immensely, which has helped in providing accurate information in the form the user desires. All you need is a mobile phone and internet connection and you can search the web without paying a dime.

Mobile learning course content can benefit from this by enriching the learning experience by referring the online learners free extended and relevant learning material.

Disadvantages of mLearning

With the advantages associated with mLearning, there are a couple of disadvantages. Even though mLearning provides immense knowledge, there are certain limitations. Naming a few below:

  • Screen Time Increases

As we all know, our usage of mobile phones is increasing per day. The reason could be any, like – checking or sending emails, checking social media accounts, sending messages to family or friends, and many more things. On top of all this screen time will be increased with mLearning. 

However, that doesn’t necessarily have to be the case. Online learning can be a part of your existing screen time instead of adding to it. This challenge is easy to overcome with a little bit of prioritization. 

  • Prone to Disturbances

While taking mLearning sessions, your messages, calls, social media updates, or news notifications can be very distracting and disturbing. This can also result in reduced engagement.

This challenge, however, can be overcome to a large extent by making the training content more participatory. Pop-quizzes and interactive learning paths can ensure the learners remain engaged and in turn, focused during training.

  • Connectivity Issues

mLearning is anytime and anywhere learning. But the most important factor is that learning can happen only if there is an internet connection. There could be some uploading or downloading issues due to poor connection.

Once again, this challenge is not difficult to overcome. If the course content is made available for download, the learners will not have to depend on the strength of their cellular signal to ensure smooth streaming of training content. 

Conclusion

We are intensely engaged with our mobile phones. But, looking at the benefits of mLearning, like the immense knowledge that is gained in the easiest way possible, mLearning is a good risk that can be taken. The most important factor to avoid the cons is to manage the amount of time spent on mobile phones, which will increase the productivity level. Like it or not, the future of education is majorly dependent on rising technology, we just need to learn to use it wisely.