Mobile learning is clearly transitioning from an “option” to a “must have”

Mobile learning or m-learning is succinctly defined as the use of technologically powered mobile devices to access content for learning purposes (Traxler, 2009). Accordingly, knowledge is obtained through the use of a plethora of mobile devices ranging from mobile phones to laptops and tablets. With the recent upsurge in the usage of these technological devices, learning has been dramatically revolutionised leading to m-learning becoming more of a necessity than an option. By estimation, it was shown that by 2014 the number of such mobile devices in use had exceeded the human population with no signs of slowing. For instance, in the United States 86%, 65% and 48% of adults owned a laptop, a smartphone, and a tablet respectively while 26% of adults in the US owned all the three devices (Han & Shin, 2016). The uptake of mobile learning has important benefits that can be tapped.

Mobile learning increases accessibility to learning content compared to the traditional mainstream methods of learning (Mehdipour & Zerehkafi, 2013). Notably, the availability is increased not by geographical means but also by temporal means. As such, geographical distance between the learner and the provider of learning content can be so huge, but if provided via m-learning, the learning process can still be seamless. Also, the improvement in temporal accessibility implies that learning is not limited by specific classrooms times as learning can occur at the time that is most convenient for the learner (Sharples et al., 2009). Given that different learners differ in their preferred learning times during which their concentration is maximal, m-learning offers a fairer platform as learners can work with times that best suit them. However, in spite of the heightened accessibility, for learners to fully realise these benefits, personal discipline and commitment from the learner’s side is required as the direct supervision of the learning process is minimal.

M-learning increases the forms through which learning materials can be delivered, which make it easier for learners to grasp the learning content better. It suffices to underpin that learners retention is varied with some leaners performing better with audio, visual, motion picture or written material. M-learning makes it easier to share learning materials in such a form so as to maximise the benefit (Han & Shin, 2016). In addition, the pace through which audiovisual content of learning material is delivered can be adjusted, which makes learners to take lessons at a pace that best suits their learning abilities. In order for learners to benefit from this advantage of m-learning, it will be requisite that the leaners be attentive to their capabilities so as to choose the form of learning content from which they can learn the most. On the other hand, the instructors and tutors will be required to make several forms of learning materials available from where learners can choose from.

M-learning has the advantage of allowing synchronous learning as feedback can be shared to the learners in real time (Fuller & Joynes, 2015). Notably, although most methods of learning are aimed to be interactive, no better means of learning offers an interactive platform than m-learning. Accordingly, learners are provided with a platform on which they can communicate with the instructors and ask for clarification of learning materials. Similarly, tutors can offer real-time feedback to the learners making the learning process more interactive. Cooperation from both parties is an essential element for this benefit of m-learning to be realised.

In summary, technological advancements have revolutionised the learning experience with m-learning becoming more prevalent. This form of learning has a number of advantages including more geographical and temporal accessibility, enhancement of the forms through which learning content can be provided, and through making learning more interactive and synchronous. However, for these benefits of m-learning to be manifest, diligence and commitment from both the learner and the instructors are mandatory.