m-Learning: New-age education mantra

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A marketplace for educational resources, Prozo showcases various offerings of new-age learning through m-learning or mobile learning, shares Ashvini Jakhar, Founder, Prozo with Elets News Network (ENN)

 What does mobile learning offer?

M-learning or mobile learning is offering learning across multiple contexts, through social and content interactions. It is providing an aid to the delivery of learning, education or learning support on mobile phones, PDAs or tablets. It allows virtual learning anywhere anytime. It is proving beneficial especially for students who may want to learn outside classrooms at their own pace as per time and location convenience. M-learning focuses on the mobility of the learner, interacting with portable technologies. Sharing is almost instantaneous when using the same content leading to instant feedback and reviews. M-learning has brought strong portability by replacing books and notes with small devices, filled with tailored learning contents. For M-learning to be optimized, following factors play an important role:

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  • Smart Phone penetration is growing very high in student population
  • Enablers such as low price smartphones, access to internet in tier 2 and 3 cities is increasing rapidly.
  • Awareness about m-Learning is increasing exponentially
  • Impact is going to be bigger once digital India effort envisioned by our Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi starts getting implemented

What are the benefits of m-Learning in education?

The biggest benefit of Mobile learning or M-learning is the use of mobile devices to deliver and access education anytime anywhere; it could prove beneficial for India’s education sector where the tertiary or brickand mortar infrastructure is limited. Our current education system if too adopts more and more of m-learning concept it may create smarter education systems for posterity. Mobile devices are easily available and even accessible to remotest corners in India. People can use mobile devices to access educational resources; connect with experts, or access content other than what is discussed in classrooms. Our organization, Prozo is developing Android and IOS based mobile applications that will provide instant access to quality and relevant educational material for students of all ages helping them in all sorts of exam preparations. It is a comprehensive platform that provides m-learning aids like tablets and PDAs other than books, digital content and mentors who are toppers and specialists in their respective field.   The tele-mentorship programmes will not only provide timely guidance and counseling but also coach young minds to handle the stress of changing exam patterns and syllabus year on year. This is a good example of flipped classrooms that uses a combination of face-to-face content delivery and offline learning approach to enhance the learning experience manifolds. It involves learning initial concepts of a subject offline by viewing lecture videos and then interacting with experts or specialists later for clarifications or further queries while revising. The offline videos can be downloaded and viewed using mobile devices and live interactions with the teachers can be done also using smartphones.

So the crux is:

  • M-Learning has ease of accessibility
  • No additional cost of ownership
  • Live or in real time (Then and there)
  • Easy to collaborate

How will it help students understand the concept of learning?

M-learning complements the traditional form of education. Let me attempt to explain this by illustrating how Prozo has blended the traditional with modern technology. At Prozo, we not only offer traditional resources of learning viz. Books, Mock exams, personal notes and Coaching material but there is also digital content comprising of all kind of mobile devices like tablets, PDAs, PCs or laptops even information about various e-learning courses is made available along with free resources like blogs, tips on specific exams etc. Now, it may not be possible for a student located some 40 – 50 kms away from a resource hub to travel and get study material every time the need occurs. Our platform is extending its technology to provide the same information and help on mobile devices. Students or their parents will have the choice to select study material as per ratings and reviews of users and order via the application which is easy to use on any mobile device. Also not all have the privilege or physical access to specialists or subject experts especially in places far away from educational institutes, coaching centers or other resource hubs.

What are the key differences between m-Learning and e-Learning?

Both e-learning and m-learning are very closely related, the main difference being in the endpoint devices used for viewing and consuming the content. Another aspect of m-learning is the content to be 100 percent relevant and end user experience is paramount. Hence, parameters like layout and format of the content matter while designing applications that run on mobile devices for m-learning. So let us say that whatever was made possible via e-learning is also achievable through m-learning, it is only the facilitating factors that need to grow.

Do you feel the trend of m-earning is picking up among the students? Is it well penetrated in the rural areas or urban sectors? 

I would say the industry is already brewing up. Though India has low Internet penetration at 19% compared with other developed and developing economies that have up to 90% penetration; the country has the third-largest Internet user base in the world, with more than 300 million users, of which more than 50% are mobile-only Internet users. The number of mobile Internet users in India is projected to double and cross the 300 million mark by 2017 from 159 million users at present as per a report by Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) and consultancy firm KPMG. Increased internet enabled device penetration, decreasing handset prices and data plans tariffs are helping create a suitable environment for a rapid growth of mobile internet in India, with rural India set to take the lead. This all is adding to GOI’s vision of creating Digital India.

The Indian government is committed to setting up a robust digital infrastructure and to promote adoption of mobile Internet and related products and services. In 2014-15, the Government budgeted INR 500 crore for building infrastructure as per the National Rural Internet and Technology Mission with an additional INR 100 crore budgeted for improving e-governance. Further to this, many handset manufacturers are making their contribution towards mobile internet growth by manufacturing affordable handsets supporting even vernacular content. As adoption of mobile broadband technology grows and low cost smart phones penetrate further into deeper markets, m-learning will assist education outreach and delivery to all parts of India.

According to another report, India’s online education market size is set to grow to $40 billion by 2017 from the current $20 billion. India has one of the largest education systems in the world with a network of more than 1 million schools and 18,000 higher education institutions. More than half of the country’s 1.2 billion population falls in the target market for education and related services. With the advent of education providers in this space that are investing considerable amount of time, efforts and money in awareness about the m-learning way and offerings that follow. Quality of products and delivery time will play a crucial role for content providers in times to come for users to hold a distinctive imagery of what suits them the best in terms of relevance, timeliness along with price.

What are the government initiatives in m-Learning under Digital India campaign?

I am not sure. So far, it is known that the Government of India (GoI) has been actively supporting the e-learning drive to strengthen accessibility. Other than funding the National Rural Internet and Technology Mission, distribution of Aakash tablets to college students was also a step towards e-learning. It has launched two schemes – National Mission on Education through Information and Communication Technology (NMEICT) and National Program on Technology Enhanced Learning (NPTEL) – to leverage the potential of ICT in the dissemination of video and web-based course content. The GoI also extensively uses the PPP route in collaboration with ICT providers through the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan and ICT@Schools projects. Now m-learning can be an alternate to e-learning depending upon choice of users.

Do you think government schools should incorporate m-Learning? Why?

I think it will take its due course of time and may happen naturally when the factors contributing to overall growth of m-learning as discussed earlier may start to evidently influence the users.

Any specific programme are you running with the government or private schools in m-Learning space? 

Not at this point in time, but in near future we may be very keen to do so as per scalability and reach we build.

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