Making learning mobile

How changes to mobile technology can help students to learn on the go

Mobile learning is sweeping the education technology market, adding a whole new level of flexibility to learning, as well as a new range of opportunities through which children can learn. Here we’ve picked out a few of the top mobile learning technologies and products which have helped improve education for the next generation of learners, and speak to the experts behind them.

Mobile communication

Mobile phones were once purely a means of conducting a phone call, however according to Ofcom, over 60% of mobiles owned in the UK today are smartphones, with the capacity to be comprehensive and universal tools for communication. These smartphones allow parents, teachers and students to access educational tools wherever they are.

“We’ve seen mobile technology play an increasingly important role in home-school communication,” says Geoff Jones, marketing director of ParentMail, communication services provider to over 6,000 schools and four million parents. “That’s why ParentMail provides a mobile app to allow parents to pay for things like school dinners and send permission forms back to school. Over 90% of ParentMail’s users now access their account though their mobile phone.”

Parent communication platforms enable schools to contact parents on a regular basis, so that they are never out of touch

Tools such as these allow parents to read school messages, and take action wherever they are, helping to make the parent-school relationship a more seamless one. It wasn’t too long ago that parents would have only heard from their child’s school twice a year at parent’s evening, and anything more would have meant there was cause for concern. “Parent communication platforms enable schools to contact parents on a regular basis, so that they are never out of touch,” continues Geoff. “It completely changes the dynamic of the parent-school relationship for the better.”

It is well known that the better the relationship between home and school, the better the benefits for the children concerned. With this in mind, school communication providers are increasing in popularity, as schools try to increase parental engagement and boost pupil attainment – all with the help of a mobile phone.

Student tablets 

Tablet technology offers a change to the traditional use of ICT that comes when using fixed computers or laptops. Lightweight with a long battery life, they offer possibilities not previously seen with other ‘mobile’ computing solutions. Work can be accessed anytime, anywhere; during lessons for activities, research and presentation or for homework and revision at home. 

“With the proliferation of tablet technology in recent years, there’s been a growing trend in the education sector of bringing learning to students via mobile devices. Tablets offer an engaging and convenient way of teaching and learning through a mix of existing and new activities,” says Nik Tuson, managing director of LearnPad. 

If the introduction of tablet technology can help keep children engaged with the learning process, then this is a natural step forward for schools looking to upgrade their approach. Gareth Mellor from SAMLearning believes that digital-focused learning should be encouraged beyond the classroom. “Encouraging students to use online resources for homework and revision, means that it won’t be regarded so much as an additional task, but something that simply forms part of their online exploration.” 

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Revision apps

There are a range of apps on the market which pupils can choose from according to their particular needs; whether that is French revision for the bus journey, or maths problems they can click through by topic. Chris Malcolm, managing director of Daydream Education explains how one such app, Maths Tutor, encourages self-led learning and further engagement in maths. “Maths Tutor provides guidance and support to pupils in the form of real-life scenarios, tutorials and interactive screens that can be used before, during or after assessment to reinforce learning. This means support is just a click away if pupils are stuck during an assessment activity, making this a powerful self-led learning feature.”

Mobile apps are just that, mobile. This means they are able to fit around a student’s lifestyle – something that is crucial when it comes to making revision easier. The Sonocent Recorder app has the capacity for lesson capture for students to use for revision, as well as allowing users to annotate recordings with their own notes.

“The goal of today’s education system should be based on the actual learning that is achieved, rather than just about reading and storing information,” explains Dave Tucker, director of Sonocent. “A variety of tools and media need to be capitalised upon to support the individualisation of the ways that people work, study and learn.”

Reading and e-books

“Introducing reading to technology means there is a whole range of new opportunities to make reading a more enjoyable learning experience,” says Paul Humphrey, publisher at Fiction Express for Schools, an online e-book platform which allows students to vote to decide the plotline of each chapter. “The introduction of online reading platforms has helped create a community of young readers who can share the experience and interact with one another.”

Online reading platforms also create room for students to engage on forums, allowing them to integrate literacy and English skills into their computing lessons. Valuable lessons can be learned about using technology safely and responsibly while also learning to collaborate online. 

“From a teacher’s perspective, it enables us to provide children with really high-quality texts from a range of different genres,” says Louise Brindley, a teacher at Wrockwardine Primary School in Telford. “They really enjoy being able to use the MacBook’s or tablets to read the stories; it’s opened their eyes to a different way of reading.”

Technology is increasingly becoming the core of modern learning – both inside and outside the classroom. Mobile technology is opening a door to a world in which learning can be an ongoing process, which children no longer view as something to be kept exclusively within the classroom. Making learning as accessible as possible for young learners is key to their success, and the new and evolving methods of mobile technology which can be used by schools, parents and the children themselves is the next step to achieving that perpetual goal. 

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