Mobile learning. We’ve all heard the term, but what exactly does it mean? Is it learning that is not constrained by time or location? Or perhaps it is using mobile devices to assist learning? In reality, mobile learning can be defined as either of these things, or as a combination of both. Mobile learning happens anytime students are able to take control of the when and where of their learning or when students are empowered to use a mobile device such as a cell phone, laptop or tablet to assist in their learning.
For the purpose of this post, we will focus on mobile learning as using mobile devices to enhance learning. However, it is important to note that allowing students to use mobile devices in class creates engaged learners who are more likely to seek out information outside of the classroom and continue learning wherever they are.
Schools are seeing a growing trend towards allowing mobile devices in the classroom. In the past, mobile devices were considered nothing but a distraction for students. But as the technology evolves, educators are starting to see the value these powerful tools can bring to the classroom. Many schools are even providing the mobile devices to their students through one-to-one programs or classroom sets of the devices.
With all these devices added to the school, IT staff now faces a range of new problems.
When using mobile devices in the classroom, teachers need a way to distribute content to the devices. A large perk to using mobile devices is that paper consumption can be decreased, but in order for this to happen, teachers need a way to digitally give students the information.
Through MediaCAST, teachers can load all resources into a single location and provide students links as necessary. The great part of switching to digital sharing is that these resources no longer have to be defined by what can be printed on a page. Links can lead to videos, images, audio recordings or even PDFs. Students are now able to access information that used to be controlled by a teacher on an as needed basis.
For an offline choice, the MediaCAST Mobile Learning Package allows teachers to easily distribute content to student’s devices. With a click of the button, teachers are able to easily send resources to student devices which can then be saved to the device for later, offline viewing.
Managing Digital Resources and Licenses
With the move towards mobile devices and digital content, there is a need to manage digital resources and licenses. It is easier to accidentally violate licensing terms of a digital item than of a physical one. For example, if you have one physical copy of a movie, only one teacher can use it at a time, but if you have one digital license for the same movie, multiple teachers may be able to access the video at the same time if proper precautions are not taken. The same goes for etextbooks and any other digital resource that comes with limited licenses.
It is important to have a way to control access to digital content to ensure licensing agreements are not violated. MediaCAST provides the tools to do this. Every time a resource is added to the MediaCAST digital content library, users are given the option to limit the number of simultaneous users as well as the number of unique users. Ensuring licensing terms as never accidentally violated.
IT Device Support
When school supplied mobile devices are used in classes, there will be an increase in need for IT support help. However, the addition of these devices can lead to a decreased need for traditional computers, thus evening out the number of cases the IT department has to handle.
An alternative method is allowing students to bring their own devices, on the condition that the students are responsible for maintenance on these devices. In this manner, the IT department will only be responsible for the small percentage of devices supplied by the school – a much more manageable number than supporting the whole school.
All those mobile devices provide a huge strain on bandwidth. It has been estimated that schools adding mobile devices need enough bandwidth for double the amount of devices they expect because many teachers and students may bring more than one device.
MediaCAST Express can help solve some of your bandwidth needs by running all MediaCAST operations through a hosted server. In this way, students and teachers are not using the school bandwidth in order to access digital resources saved in MediaCAST. Instead, they are able to access these resources without draining the school’s internet access.
Mobile learning can provide many benefits to both students and teachers, as long as a few basic roadblocks are considered beforehand. Figuring out a plan to distribute and manage resources, support devices and ensure you have enough bandwidth before adding mobile learning to you school will go a long ways towards a successful implementation.