With devices such as smartphones and tablets making their way to every hand, mobile learning has also begun to spread its wings.
Conveying educational content through mobile phones, smartphones and PDAs (personal digital assistants) is known as mobile learning.
It is slightly different from e-learning, which aims to do the same but through the medium of laptops and computers. Hence, e-learning is location bound; while mobile learning allows one to attend lectures, read, and ask teachers questions from any where and at any time.
Today, students research and study online a lot. Thanks to the internet, they can study from multiple sources at the same time, such as from blogs and Twitter.
Duke University was probably the first to use mobile devices for educational purposes by allowing students to access class material and symposia through iTunes. Other institutions which use iTunes are MIT, Stanford and University of California. In 2008, Abilene Christian University (Texas, USA) also used iPhones and iPads to experiment with mobile learning.
M-learning in India
There are several m-learning initiatives in India.
The Biju Patnaik University of Technology started a service in collaboration with SMSGupShup called the BPUTALERT, which distributes information, academic notices and calendars through SMS to students.
Voicetap is another service using which people can send their queries through SMS, and the company messages back names of experts on the subject, and then users can connect to the right expert.
Another initiative, mGurujee, allows users to download questions and take tests to evaluate themselves. The service also allows people to receive reference content even if they are outside and away from their books. Users just need to register at the mGurujee portal to access free content. The site mGurujee has reinvented itself as a learning mobile app store and several leading mobile service operators, app stores and handset manufacturers are working with the company.
But for mobile learning to become successful, learners need to have access to the technology.
The field of mobile learning is in its infancy, and developers are still fumbling with products.