Is Smartphone an E-learning tool?

Technological revolution has brought tremendous changes in the way knowledge is acquired. Starting from computers to mobile phones, there is no limit in the way knowledge is attained

with the help of these electronic gizmos. You might be a student or a working professional. When in your classroom or boardroom, you might need to find the latest information and data relevant to your discussions. People pursuing distance and online study courses might want to know the scores and details of their assignments, exam schedule and other information without sitting in front of a computer. You might want to make best use of your travel time– you might like to learn on the go. It‘s not always possible to carry or operate notebooks and laptops while travelling. In addition, you might want to go through the flashcards or synopsis of your lessons. All these issues can be solved through a new way of learning called ‗mobile learning‘ or ‗mlearning‘, using smartphones. A Smartphone is an innovative device through which you can not only make calls, but also manage your personal information. It has all the features of the PDA (Personal Digital Assistant) and internet access capabilities. Image courtesy – Google Images Smartphones are giving stiff competition to computers. They are available in different brands such as iPhone, Blackberry, HTC, Samsung, etc. According to the software giant Cisco, nearly 63% of the internet traffic is generated by computers. And this figure is going to fall to 46%, by the year 2015, thanks to the Smartphone‘s. Barring a few, Smartphones are capable of almost every function performed by computers and laptops. Younger generation is showing more interest in buying Smartphones as they are much cheaper than the laptops and can be maintained easily. Precisely put, a smartphone is nothing but a handheld computer.

According to a Speak up 2011 National Report ―Mapping a Personalized Learning Journey — K12 Students and Parents Connect the Dots with Digital learning3,‖ (Project Tomorrow 2012), students are increasingly using mobile phones. A recent report revealed an interesting fact that after 5 years of releasing iPhone, there are nearly a billion Smartphone users4. That figure pretty much explains the extent and reach of smartphones. Education can be imparted in the form of simple tests, quizzes and lectures. For this purpose, low cost smartphones are being manufactured. Marissa, who is in her high school in Los Angeles, was finding it difficult to understand the concept of Hamlet‘s discovery of the skull in graveyard and it‘s relation to the play. She couldn‘t understand the importance of the skull as a thematic symbol. She researched on her smartphone and found it on the web. She was able to follow the rest of the passage without any difficulty. This example clearly shows how the smartphone is helping people to learn better. According to a study ‗Mobile Student 2.0‘ by Dr. Federman, students are being allowed to record lectures, photograph instructor notes and also collaborate through cloud based applications. Education is still a dream for many in developing countries. This is due to various reasons such as lack of adequate teachers, infrastructure, high cost of education and even learner‘s disinterest. Low attendance is another reason behind this problem. Azim Premji Foundation, 2004 report5 states that there is significant gap between enrollment and education. Several children have to work at a young age due to their poor socio-economic conditions. This has a huge impact on the attendance of the children (Jean Dr`eze and Geeta Gandhi Kingdon, 2001). Smartphones can be used effectively to teach to such underprivileged children. As smartphones are highly interactive in nature, unlike radio and TV, they can be best used to access as well as share content in the remote areas. Gemma and Eliana Singer, three year oldtwin sisters of Manhattan have been playing with the iPhones from the tender age of 6 months. They started exploring it from then and know all the alphabets at the age of 18 months itself. And now, they are able to read with the help of the iPhone app called ‗First Words.‘ Nearly 33% of people are willing to lose their money rather than their iPhones, because, it‘s easy to borrow money than staying without out an iPhone. Augmented reality is the concept of using your camera on your mobile device to interface with reality. For instance, while reading something related to welding, your phone will pull up a video on the process of welding. This enables better understanding of the entire concept and will aso enhance your learning experience. The mobile learning environment also allows teacher and student interaction like it happens in the normal schools. As like with every electronic gadget, smartphone too has its own advantages and disadvantages.

Advantages of Smartphones • They weigh less and are portable and therefore can be carried easily.

• You can take videos, pictures, record interviews, surf the web and research for information, take notes, etc. • You can record tutorial sessions and lectures in the class.

• Option of making your own electronic Flash cards with the help of the applications such as Cupboards, FlashCards++ and Quizlet. • Creating and sharing of knowledge. You can use the application (Android or iphone) to take pictures and to document them. • Provides quick information and can be used for voice-recording and live-streaming.

• As several applications are being written exclusively for education, you can learn several subjects such as Mathematics, Geography, History and Science. • Provides greater communication between the people.

Disadvantages of Smartphones • It‘s difficult to get in-depth information, analysis of data, multi-media editing and developing software. • • • • Due to technical reasons, few websites don‘t get displayed on the screen. Smartphones might not be suitable for delivering huge amounts of content. They can be used for entertainment and personal purposes while in the class. Life of battery and signal strength is another major concern.

Smartphones, if used in the right way, will surely enhance your knowledge apart from providing entertainment. However, learning traditional courses on smartphones is not a good idea. It can be effectively used for learning small nuggets or for following up with other types of online training etc. Irrespective of where you‘re, you can use the smartphone to educate yourself. Let‘s be happy to be in this ‗smartphone age‘ and make best use of this wonderful device to gain knowledge. What are you waiting for? Pull your smartphone out and start exploring the world in a ‗smart‘ way.