When it comes to the traditional definition of “learning” — studying a subject like chemistry — it might be hard to recognise what mobile phones can contribute and how they might facilitate the learning process. Other subjects, like history, geography, art, sociology and foreign languages are considerably more suitable to teach using smartphones.
Subjects aside, there is a very good reason for the massive movement for implementation of mobile education in curriculums worldwide. Portable computing enables students to learn and participate in educational activities from anywhere, regardless of the subject of study. But smartphones also foster a number of concrete skills in children and young adults. So let’s look into some of them:
Context-awareness – learning at locations
All the location-based technologies implemented in mobile phones allow students to easily access additional information on their surroundings, effectively learning more about the world they live in. Learning about the history or geography of a certain location while actually being right there at that moment can deepen their engagement with the subject and provide a more long-lasting fascination with it. Studies show that learning about the middle ages while playing a mobile game actually improves the knowledge transfer when compared to traditional learning in a classroom.
(Re)search and informational skills
The ability to access the immense knowledge repository that is the internet from any point in the world is making smartphones the ultimate source of information. However, the processes of searching for and discovering the “right” information depend on a set of skills which is arguably of most crucial value in modern society. And so, fostering these skills is probably the most important mission of education worldwide.
Literacy and reading
At the turn of the century, when young people first got their hands on mobile phones, they gave life to the texting jargon that was deemed to have “destroyed literacy”. However, studies show that the kind of increased exposure to mass media that smartphones provide, can actually help to increase literacy. Furthermore, despite the relatively small screen sizes, smartphones are often used for reading on the go. Various other mobile devices like tablets and e-readers reinforce the strong foothold of electronic literature and its important role in mobile education.
Social and collaborative skills
The networking capabilities of internet-enabled mobile phones allow for a great deal of social learning. Educational platforms that provide ways for students to collaborate and compete by using game mechanics are an excellent tool for adding excitement to the subject of study. Multiplayer games develop important collaboration and teamwork skills – another critically valuable asset in the modern world.
Technical and “new media” skills
Operating a smartphone, of course, inevitably develops a knowledge of how software interfaces work. The current generation of young people is believed to be inherently tech-savvy, but familiarity with electronics and new media requires cultivation and continuous engagement. By using portable devices for various purposes, a student’s understanding of the capabilities of computing increases, and in some cases can lead to pushing those capabilities and pursuing innovation.