Today’s world is becoming more digitalized every day. Mobile culture is rapidly being embraced that most people cannot leave without their cell phones. The mobile phone has become a very useful device both as a communication and networking platform. According to Sharples, Taylor, and Vavoula (2007, 27), mobile technologies have become one of the fastest-growing communication technologies today with currently about 5.3 billion people have been subscribed as mobile users in the world. This number outnumbers internet users at a ratio of 3:1. The sale of mobile Smartphone rate increased in 2010 from the various companies producing the handsets like Nokia, Samsung among others to reach one billion of the world’s over four billion mobile phones. Smartphones are today regarded as the coolest and most popular computing devices as it performs almost everything that a laptop can do. The existence of mobile phones everywhere has led to social organizations beginning to leverage this communication device is trying to develop an effective communication process between the people? Educational institutions should find this way as the easiest and most effective way to pass their information to their students.
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The extent of delivering knowledge, information, training to a targeted audience beyond employees is one of the fastest-growing segments of the learning industry which is increasing at an annual pace of more than 25%. With a phone containing various applications, operations staff and students have a way through which they can all access information and conduct communication via mobile phones. The most important contribution of the information technologies is that mobile technologies have today promoted some evolution in the technical aspect of mobile usage bringing in new models with higher computing power and internet connections.
Mobile usability in an educational context can be categorized in different ways. Given the prevalence of mobile phones, it’s important to find out to what extent they benefit those in an educational institution like how they can be integrated into teaching. The concept of mobile learning (m-learning) is fast growing and it’s a concept that many people regard as a promising way of addressing learning values other than the traditional classroom learning processes (Brown 2003, 12). Mobile learning is possible if there is the use of mobile or handheld IT devices like personal Digital Assistants (PDAs) mobile phones and MP3s, all these technologies have widened an individual’s participation and access to ICT.
Educators are trying to find better ways in which they can pass on knowledge to their students one way they are trying to accomplish their set goal is by the use of mobile technology. The use of mobile phone applications in disseminating education and teaching becomes a popular way of communicating and passing knowledge especially with the help of smartphones. Today some applications have been specifically created to help students manage their own everyday school schedules. Some applications allow students to get through with their school projects in a much easier way and even more interesting than before. With this kind of an advantage, it stops being a monotonous routine of the traditional classroom project that leads to boredom and instead be attentive and eager to work on school projects. A good example is an android application that has been created to connect and engross students in various educational activities
Arguing from an educational point of view, mobile applications provide a situation by which learning can be done anywhere and at any time because they are not limited to any connection to the global world. This provides the student with an open schedule whereby users of a mobile application for educative purposes can pursue the educational interest by following their own schedules. Ubiquities in mobile application services have effectively facilitated students learning as students interact and connect to their peers and the outside world through service networks (Campbell 1996, 45). Since a majority of the applications used in the handsets are similar to those of a PC including their capacity. There are no limits to this kind of learning.
The administrative personnel of educational institutions also are beneficiaries of the new mobile technologies. From the mobile applications, it is now possible for them to pass information to each and every student individually especially when serious pieces of information have to be passed to the students. This provides the students to have some level of personal interaction between the administrative personnel and themselves at individual level.
Will it be more cost-effective?
The use of mobile applications from an educative perspective has proved to be beneficial and cost-effective. Visser and West (2005, 87) suggest that the concept of m-learning is an effective way of reducing learning costs which usually hinder many who are trying to access information in learning institutions. Giving an example of the people leaving in rural or remote areas, where infrastructures such as learning institutions’ are of no avail, an introduction to m-learning is seen as an effective gesture both in terms of costs as mobile technologies are much less costly as compared to other technologies like the broadband and the PCs and less time-consuming commuting to learning institutions because one can study anywhere.
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In many developing countries, the benefit of increasing the access to m- learning becomes a cost-effective way that ensures students access information regardless of where they are. This concept provides a probable way forward for the expansion of educative programs to suit the increasing number of people seeking to get informed and increase the participation of students who undergo distance learning. The concept also helps educational institutions reduce the amount and resources used to pass some information to the students. Example is when the educational institutions have to print out the rules and regulation sort of pamphlets, instead of using too much money for the printing services; they can use the appropriate mobile application available to deliver the information individually to each student.
Reach the target audience better?
Using mobile applications, it has become much easier to reach the target audience which is the students in an educational institution. The efforts put by educational institutions to the matters of involving students in the development of mobile applications ensure that they are able to decide on what the students want and are ready to get feedback because they know what to expect (Davis 2003, 20). This way there would be a common goal which is trying to pass information to the target audience and be able to receive feedback from them, therefore, developing the communication process that makes it even more possible to reach its audience.
Would it retain interest better?
The possible services provided by mobile applications are unlimited. Students can greatly enjoy unlimited access to information via their mobile phones. Students can access information from different websites like social network sites example Facebook, MySpace, email all these from their cell phones. These privileges them to communicate in real-time which is very interesting both at individual and community level. The information which includes school updates, reminders and other information from supportive contacts that are in touch with the students becomes easily relayed. It is always interesting to get informed of something that is of importance at the moment of its importance.
In this era of competitiveness, educational institutions are being encouraged to reach out to technologies that are going to help their students who are their target market feel satisfied. They are required to support services that will ensure their students’ needs are completely fulfilled. The trend of using handheld or cell phone application technology by the young generation can be utilized by these institutions to disseminate important information, access information and make learning interesting among other related functions that would be of benefit to the students. Teachers should be aware of the application models which are beneficial to their students like the android application which has created applications that suites students with the help of multimedia and learning aids. Such an application provides a platform for the students to learn various new things in the course of the curriculum easily and interestingly, therefore, reducing the chances of students becoming easily bored due to the convenience of engaging in an audiovisual environment.
Brown, T. 2003. The role of m-learning in the future of e-learning in Africa? Paper presented at the 21st ICDE World Conference, Hong Kong.
Campbell C 1996.Surface acoustic wave devices for mobile and wireless communications Volumes 1-4 of Applications of modern acoustics. New York: Academic Press
Davis,S., 2003. Observations in classrooms using network of handheld devices. Journal of computer assisted learning, 10-23.
Sharples, M., Taylor, J. & Vavoula, G., 2007. A theory of learning for the mobile age.,The Sage handbook of e-learning research. London: Sage Publications.
Visser, L. & West, P., 2005. The promise of m-learning for distance education in South Africa and other developing nations. Greenwich, CT.: Information Age Publishing.