The ubiquity of m-learning

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I spoke with a group of training professionals at a large company last week and, for the first time in a long time, I found myself presenting the argument that there is more interactivity in an online class than in a face-to-face (F2F) class. I’ve had to do this on many occasions over the years, but I hadn’t realised that this question had all but disappeared off the radar.

That so few people now would venture to suggest this in the post-Web 2.0 era is testimony, perhaps, to the maturity of online learning. But it’s not just about the increasing popularity of social networking per se. The growing sophistication of handheld devices — or what we used to call ‘mobile phones’ — has added fuel to the social media fire, such that connectivity and interaction levels have reached fever pitch.

In an F2F setting, interaction will always be limited to the number of people who can talk at once. In an online setting, numerous conversations take place concurrently, more people can participate, and they participate with people they perhaps wouldn’t otherwise have participated with.

This is facilitating student engagement on a scale few educators could have dreamt of just a few years ago — myself included. I poured scorn on the idea that anyone would want to read a large amount of text from a mobile device, but then that was before iPhones and iPads, and the advent of ‘the App’. Astonishingly, Apple now claims to have 140,000 apps in the App Store, and some 40,000 of these are educational apps.