M-learning has undergone evaluation since 1990s by various universities. In 2000, European commission granted funds to M-Learning and MOBIlearn projects. The major focus areas of these projects are content development for hand held devices and delivery to hand held devices.
There are some major projects underway in the field of m-Learning like M-Learning, Handscape and Chimer.
m-Learning aims to improve the levels of literacy by delivering interesting content through mobile device. This is a project that is being supported by European Union.
Some of the various software developed for mobile devices as part of m-Learning project are quizzes in Java, MediaBoard, SMS quiz author, games and quizzes for Pocket PC, authoring software for Pocket PC.
Using Java , quizzes are developed and they can be run on the compatible mobile phone for learners to test their knowledge. MediaBoard is a web based bulleting board. However, learners can post their messages onto this bulletin board using SMS or MMS. SMS quiz author enables learners to develop their own quizzes for mobile devices. Besides games and quizzes and software with the help of which resources for M-Learning can be authored is developed for Pocket PC. The software that is developed as part of M-Learning project can be used in universities, schools as well as by NGOs.
m-Learning And Distance Education
The relevance of m-learning to distance education is significant. Since mobile devices are within the reach of a learner, any information that is provided to the mobile device can be accessed by the learner very easily. The course materials of various courses offered by the distance education institutes can be downloaded by the learner to his mobile device and the same can be assessed whenever there is requirement.
Also, video lectures can be downloaded by learners to their mobile devices and the same can be viewed by them on their mobile device without using a PC to run the VCDs of lectures.
Most of the elements of distance education can be offered through mobile devices. However, the mobile device of the learner should be enabled for compatible technology and the mobile devices should be java enabled.
m-Initiatives At IGNOU
A total of approximately 1.8 million learners are currently pursuing their educational aspirations from IGNOU. IGNOU is working on offering SMS based services to its learners. Initially, it plans to send alerts to learners via SMS. Sample alerts that are of interest to all learners include the last date for submission of examination form etc.
IGNOU intends to follow it up by enabling learners to obtain information on request by SMS. For example, a learner can request for the address of his study center through SMS. This is a two-way communication mechanism where a request is made by learner by SMS and IGNOU responds by providing necessary information to that particular learner by SMS.
IGNOU also intends to offer advanced SMS based student support services to its learners. This will enable learners to update information by SMS. For example, a learner can SMS his address to IGNOU which will replace his old address. Such services are expected to reduce the delay in comparison to the same requests being handled by other modes of communication.
P.Venkata Suresh received MTech degree from Andhra University, Visakhapatnam in 1997. Currently, he is working as Senior Lecturer in School of Computer and Information Sciences, IGNOU, New Delhi. He is having several research papers in the areas of Mobility, Internet, Distance Education and Higher Education. His research paper at AAOU,China received grant from Common Wealth of Learning(COL) and IGNOU. Also, he is actively involved in Web based projects. His areas of interest include Mobile computing, Web technologies, Software Engineering and Distance education.