Mobile Learning

© Nokia

Mobile devices are transforming the way we communicate, live and learn. Mobile learning, or "m-learning", offers modern ways to support learning process through mobile devices, such as handheld and tablet computers, MP3 players, smartphones and mobile phones. We must ensure that this digital revolution becomes a revolution in education, promoting inclusive and better learning everywhere.

As mobile technology jumps from the margins of education to the mainstream, teachers will be key to the success of ICTs in teaching and learning. While not a panacea, mobile technology has a clear track record of improving educational efficiency. Mobile learning presents unique attributes compared to conventional e-learning: personal, portable, collaborative, interactive, contextual and situated, it emphasizes "just-in-time-learning" as instruction can be delivered anywhere and at anytime through it. Moreover, it is an aid to formal and informal learning and thus holds enormous potential to transform the delivery of education and training.

Mobile devices are the most successful and ubiquitous information and communication technology in human history. They are plentiful in places where books and schools are scarce. In less than a decade, mobile technology has spread to the furthest corners of the planet. Of the estimated 7 billion people on Earth, 6 billion now have access to a working mobile phone. Africa, which had a mobile penetration rate of just 5% in the 1990s, is now the second largest and fastest growing mobile phone market in the world, with a penetration rate of over 60% and climbing.

The shortage in the number of teachers — both current and anticipated — impede a wide range of development efforts by preventing young people from gaining access to the high quality instruction needed to excel in knowledge-based societies. The shortage of trained and motivated teachers is most acute in parts of the world where more and better quality instruction is desperately needed.

In light of the urgency of the global teacher crisis, UNESCO wants to better understand how mobile technology can help prepare new teachers and provide professional development to working teachers, and how it can collaborate in providing education for all. This way, UNESCO's programme of activities is based on growing partnerships geared towards exploring and promoting discussions on the most cutting-edge topics, such as Open Educational Resources; classroom apps for smartphones and basic phones alike, content for tablets and netbooks; mobile learning pedagogics; building mobile learning apps; social media and more.

Mobile learning is emerging as one of the solutions to the challenges faced by education. Improving educational access and quality requires political leadership, planning and action. Mobile technologies hold the key to turning today’s digital divide into digital dividends, bringing equitable and quality education for all.

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