Educational Technology and Mobile Learning
Benefits of mobile learning technologies in Africa
There is no doubt that education plays a significant role in the development of countries and societies. In recent years, education has evolved from face-to-face learning (e.g., classrooms) into more technology-based education (e.g., mobile learning). This change can be attributed to continuous technological advancement, where new and affordable technologies are becoming accessible to people.
Mobile devices are used for information dissemination, prevention, education, teaching and learning, research, and evaluation in the education sector. Accessibility is key in education; therefore, through mobile technology, education can now be made accessible to all people in any part of the world.
Mobile Learning: A Definition
According to many scholars, mobile learning (also known as mLearning) is a term that has been found useful in describing education technology initiatives carried out using portable or hand-held devices. This type of education utilizes advanced mobile devices together with digital content specifically designed for these devices. Mobile learning allows learners to interact and communicate peer-to-peer via short message service (SMS), e-mail messages, voice calls, chatting applications or video calls, and sharing education contents (e.g., documents, graphics, images) via social media platforms and mobile learning management systems.
Mobile Learning: An Overview
Mobile technology education has several benefits. It is very affordable compared to face-to-face education, which requires high transaction costs for traveling, accommodation, and training teachers on education pedagogy. Mobile education makes education available to everyone anytime, anywhere. Using this type of education also enhances teacher effectiveness in schools due to the availability of educational resources such as lesson plans, teaching strategies, and interactive videos, even when there are power failures or other difficulties with regular school activities.
Furthermore, mobile education increases learners’ academic performance because it provides them with a broader range of opportunities to access the information at their convenience and pace. Learners and teachers can use mobile education to get education-related information, create education content, join education groups, or network education forums.
Mobile technology in Africa
Financial institutions in Africa use mobile technology to channel their products and services distribution to customers across the continent. They are doing this through mobile banking and m-commerce platforms that enable them to offer electronic payment solutions such as credit card facilities, business loans, money transfers, etc. These mobile products help African countries to increase financial literacy. For example, in Kenya, Safaricom’s M-PESA allows rural people without bank accounts access financing through a peer-to-peer transfer of money (e.g., sending/receiving payments from friends/neighbors).
Many nations in Africa have started using mobile technology to educate people, particularly in areas where education has previously not been available. For example, language learning is becoming more popular as a result of mobile-based software programs that are accessible in numerous African languages.
In recent years African Edtech ventures have been arising and revolutionizing learning with innovative solutions that are mobile-based. Those companies include BAG Innovation with its gamified platform for university students, BeBlocky with augmented reality, WeThinkCode with its free training programming courses, and other companies like Xander, Snapplify, and Kytabu that have also been using mobile technology to provide content for educational purposes.
Mobile learning has been acknowledged by research studies as a promising approach for achieving the United Nations’ sustainable development goals (SDGs) particularly when it is used with blended learning approaches. By using mobile devices, learners are able to access quality online resources at any time, anywhere.
Mobile education is also helping education policymakers, education administrators, and teachers in countries such as Tanzania to improve education management by increasing their ability to collect education information (e.g., teacher performance evaluation, data on school attendance of learners) via mobile devices. Mobile technology can help education workers identify and solve problems quickly because it provides them with real-time information through mobile education apps. Mobile education enhances transparency in education administration when schools are equipped with mobile devices that allow them to access government-generated education reports, policies, and guidelines for free at any time.
Furthermore, mobile technology provides opportunities for students and parents/guardians in poor communities who cannot afford to pay for television or radio programs but still want education-related entertainment. This is achieved by using education mobile apps that stream educational content for free such as speeches, education videos, news, and education songs.
To conclude, mobile education is a promising avenue for ICT education in Africa. It helps education workers and students increase their productivity through access to education content because mobile education is education on the go. It also helps education administrators improve education management in schools. Education policymakers increase transparency in education administration by providing mobile education apps to all education workers and students.