"M-learning , or "mobile learning", now commonly abbreviated to "mLearning", has different meanings for different communities. Although related to e-learning and distance education, it is distinct in its focus on learning across contexts and learning with mobile devices. One definition of mobile learning is: Learning that happens across locations, or that takes advantage of learning opportunities offered by portable technologies . In other words, mobile learning decreases limitation of learning location with the mobility of general portable devices.
The term covers: learning with portable technologies, where the focus is on the technology (which could be in a fixed location, such as a classroom); learning across contexts, where the focus is on the mobility of the learner, interacting with portable or fixed technology; and learning in a mobile society, with a focus on how society and its institutions can accommodate and support the learning of an increasingly mobile population that is not satisfied with existing learning methodologies. " (from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M-learning)
With technology being what it is today, where documents and audio/video files can be stored in our mobiles (phones, PDAs, PDA phones) and where you can access the internet anywhere and can therefore go online anytime, M-learning is a very appropriate term indeed.
After successfully enrolling, my husband formatted his other PDA for me, so I can read the e-books/documents in .pdf format even in bed. And just in case I actually want to check messages in the middle of a long and winded wedding reception, or I need to look up something on the net while vacationing with the family (maybe, download an assigned .pdf file), I can just borrow his PDA phone. At home, however, I have two computers (desktop and laptop) and two intenet connections (DSL and Mobile Broadband) at my disposal for all the homework I should be doing.
M-learning allows for learning on the go, something that will take Distance Education to even greater heights as it breaks down more location limits. M-learning also allows for a paperless learning as you can save entire documents and access them at will. PDAs will also most gladly store your notes for you. But in the same way that not everyone likes text messaging to communicate, I also seem to prefer reading from paper and jotting down notes on paper. None of the electronic notes and Post-Its for me. I have never liked reading e-books (reading from computers also seem to tire the eyes out more easily) which is too bad really, as it will save a lot on baggage (for when we’re travelling) and will definitely save the trees. And this is weird since I can go online for hours.
Bless me, too, for I am not the auditory type. Sure, I love music and all but I also don’t assimilate stories heard as much as when I read them, so what more academic lectures?
I guess in time I will learn, maybe not enough to prefer it, but enough at least to adapt how I learn to these ‘conveniences’. However, as educational tools, mobile devices and other electronic gadgets have definitely taken away a lot of possible reasons for a student NOT to study and learn (my dog ate my PDA?), provided, of course, that he can afford these things. And if the thrust of DE indeed is tapping every available tool to get people learning, the greatest hurdle to cross will be making the technology accessible to those who truly need it. We can start with just making it affordable, which is a big challenge in itself. And of course, there is the re-training that may be required for the mentors and students alike who haven’t yet jumped on the techie bandwagon.
One thing I might also add to this is the emerging culture of having a secondary computer that is handier and cheaper. Aside from desktops growing more and more old-fashioned... laptop owners are the same people being tapped as market for smaller computers (think Asus eee and Astone tablet PC). I know PDAs are smaller and handier but people usually like using keyboards aside from enjoying all the basic offerings of a PC. These cheaper, smaller PCs allow techies to bring them everywhere. Plus, they are already manufactured to accommodate sim cards, for the GPRS/HSDPA offerings of cellphone networks. So even if there's no free wifi where you are, so long as you have a cellphone signal, you can still go online.
A proof of this trend is Globe's tie-up with Asus eee PC.