Mobile Learning: The rise of a new education system in Asia
Mobile learning is the new age tool for teachers and students across the globe right now. Countries like USA and UK have already started using mobile apps for learning. It is gradually growing into a US$37.6 billion industry from US$7.98 billion in 2015.This accounts for an annual growth rate of over 36 percent.
The growing popularity of mobile learning in Asia
Mobile learning is rapidly growing in Asia and most of the success is attributed to the high smartphone penetration rates. Not to mention the big investments and the heavy use of smartphones and tablets as a potential learning tool.
The potential of the mobile learning market is tremendous in Asia. It is expected that Asia will be responsible for the highest amount of revenues for mobile learning in the world by 2019. According to Ambient Insight, a research firm, Asia alone will generate a revenue of about US$7.7 billion by 2019.
The main driving force behind mobile learning in Asia are based on four factors. The popularity of mobile-learning services, investments by telecom industries, the use of tablets in academics and the evolution of learning devices as a consumer good.
Mobile learning in Asia
Much of the popularity of mobile based learning apps is credit to the vast number of projects running across the region. The Smart School government project in Malaysia and the FutureSchools@Singapore project in Singapore are two projects initiated by the government. In addition to such projects start-up companies likeQuipper, SkillPixels and Duolingoare slowly bringing mobile based learning to classrooms.
Quipper started about five years ago and has since seen huge success. It has created educational materials with the help of experienced teachers and provides lessons and tests for students aged 8-18. In Southeast Asia, the biggest market for Quipper is Indonesia. Philippines is the next country on the list. In the coming years, it plans on expanding its shores to Vietnam and Thailand.
SkillPixels was started by ex-Nokia employees in 2011 in Singapore. SkillPixels’ games and apps have been downloaded more than 300,000 times, as per a report. Another app called SmartKid has also been on the Top 10 download lists in Singapore and several other regions.
Communication in English is a big problem in countries like India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Japan. Eijiro, a mobile learning app in Japan, gives access to an English–Japanese dictionary and other educational material at about US$1.53 per month. Similarly, in Bangladesh BBC Janala is helping users to study English. It is a multimedia platformon mobile phones that helps learners improve their English language skills. The platform BBC provides English lessons and other educational content at an affordable price and can be used by anyone easily through their mobile phones.
The national-level digital textbook initiative started few years back and has seen a change in the education sphere. More and more people are getting involved in digital based learning systems. Keeping the changing trend in mind, information technology (IT) and telecommunications companies in South Korea have expanded their products and services. They have started selling mobile based learning devices and apps. One of them called T Smart Learning provides educational tools and mobile devices that help students to manage their own learning process. The platform provides customizable content and tools for self-learning.
Similarly, in the Philippines, a project called Text2Teach started based on the “bring your own device” model and has become highly popular. Its sponsorships include Nokia, Pearson, the International Youth Foundation and the United Nations Development Programme. Through the project, students can access and download educational material in sciences and mathematics. Since last year, the project has helped more than 300,000 students in the country.
FutureSchools @Singapore, a government-led initiative, started in Singapore with the aim to enhance the diversity of educational methods.It offers tools that caters to learners’ needs. It is supported by eight institutions and The School of Science and Technology Singapore (SST) is one of those eight institutes. The school adopted the MacBook as a learning device when it received its first set of students in 2010.
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Benefits of mobile learning in Singapore
1. It is great way of providing basic education and a source of continuous learning for people living in rural areas. This is particularly useful for people in underdeveloped countries who are unable to bear the basic education costs. In time, mobile learning will become cheaper and with the drop in prices of smartphones, it just might become the virtual classroom in backward countries.
2. Another important use of mobile based learning is distance education. It is a great educational tool in areas where mobile phones are used effectively to provide education. In Asia, the number of students enrolled in tertiary education has increased but the overall enrolment rate in the region is a low 22.3%. In other developed countries like Europe, Latin America and north America, the rates are well over the 50% mark.
3. Mobile learning is also helping students shift towards self-directed learning. This is useful for students who have problem studying in a traditional classroom for a variety of reasons. It can be used to impart education and provide lifelong learning. Mobile learning is being recognized by educators as a way of encouraging informal learning.
4. Mobile learning is being hailed as a medium that can form future learning environments or educational settings inspired by technology.
Issues with mobile learning
The use of mobile based learning is still a controversial issue in Asia. Educators have expressed concern over the use of mobile phones in classrooms. It can be used for cyber-bullying and circulating indecent and sexual content to others. It is a great technological tool for educating the masses but the use of mobile phones still remain limited due to these issues.