Why mobile is creating a revolution in personalized blended learning

Why higher education must fully embrace going mobile for today’s students.

mobile-devices-personalizedNearly two decades have passed since the advent of the internet and already the face of education has been fundamentally turned on its head. Schools of every kind around the world have had to make sweeping changes to the way curriculum is designed and delivered in the internet age.

For instance, reportedly, more than three quarters of American homes now have a smartphone or other tablet mobile device. People from every age group are accessing the internet for several hours each day, the way the previous generations did with television. However, there is a big difference between being a passive consumer of content that is served up on a static device like a television, and the interactive, exploratory nature of learning via online investigation and discovery. Teachers and students alike have had to adjust from a linear way of accessing information to a much more fluid, organic approach to learning.

One of the most radical changes in the past few years has been the implication of mobile devices within and beyond the classroom environment. Since mobile devices are intimately personal and fluid by nature, teachers are developing new and innovative ways to increase student engagement with a more personalized approach to how they guide the student in pursuing and sharing information.

According to education expert Dr. Steve Perry, “For decades, higher education has followed a tried and true, largely unchanged format since the Industrial Revolution. While modern-day technology has transformed other critical aspects of society, from the way products are manufactured to how goods and services are delivered to the way people manage their day-to-day lives, the approach to higher education had resisted opportunities for game-changing advancements. Fortunately, in the last several years, new entrants and approaches within the education arena have spurred the industry’s rapid adoption of new technologies, and substantially enhanced the options available to continuing education students.”

(Next page: Adapting curriculum to a mobile lifestyle)

Teachers must adapt curriculum to accommodate a mobile lifestyle

Teachers who can adapt lesson plans and homework for a mobile lifestyle can guide their students toward learning opportunities in their off hours while they are surfing and socializing online.

Customized lesson plans can guide the student in how to find, and report information they have found, online. By integrating learning into this new social phenomenon, teachers can help students incorporate exploration and discovery into their daily lifestyle, thus building a foundation for lifelong learning throughout their lives.

Creative teachers are finding ways to use apps to adapt lessons for individual student needs. This personalized approach can often uncover untapped student potential.

Personalized blended learning is a new movement in education where innovative teachers tailor lesson plans to a particular student’s strengths, needs or interests, allowing for more student involvement in how lessons can be pursued and reported back. Since mobile devices are always connected and always moving, teachers can design lessons which encourage exploration and online collaboration. Within a classroom setting, tablets and smartphones can help teachers “gamify” the learning experience for their students. For homework and tutoring, mobile devices can be invaluable for online collaboration and even distance learning.

Edutainment is a new paradigm for lifelong learning

While schools across the country debate whether or not to allow students to bring their own devices into the classroom, students are already pursuing their own online interests and organically learning along the way.

Usually, the impetus for connecting online is to either be entertained or to be informed in some way – and to be able to share that experience with others. The interactive nature of this new way of learning is dynamic and ever-changing. The role of the teacher in this free-form discovery is to give guidance and coherence to the student as they discover.

Teachers who tap into this quest for “edutainment” are finding ways to reach students in the back of the classroom who tend to zone out of lessons based on traditional linear thinking. Many schools are adapting to these new approaches to student engagement.

However, it’s important to remember that teachers and students alike have different preferences and comfort levels with technology. When teachers are given the freedom to experiment and personalize lesson plans, many are finding that the best solution is a combination of offline and online exercises for both classroom and homework situations. As mobile technologies gain classroom adoption, the need increases for educational platforms that bring structure and coherence to the wide variety of online content. Thousands of apps are vying for the teacher’s attention, but within this new frontier, no single solution is providing a panacea for all teaching situations.

Online education platforms need to be agile, cross platform and collaborative

One thing is for sure, always connected mobile devices are here to stay. As they increasingly make their way into the classroom, productivity and collaboration will be the name of the game.

The most flexible educational apps will be the ones that provide teachers and students a cohesive way to aggregate information in every format (text, graphics, handwriting, web pages, audio and video) and from any platform (Windows, Apple iOS or Android). Educational apps that provide the maximum opportunities for collaboration and sharing of information will reign supreme in the new age of mobile education.

As teachers and schools incorporate mobile technologies into their teaching methods, the need to customize and personalize lesson plans could well be on the horizon. As teachers develop a foundation for more interactive and dynamic lesson plans with mobile technologies, student engagement will be on the rise.

Pamela Millar writes for the MetaMoJi Education Solutions website, ranked among “Top 100 Education Websites” 2015 by MetaMoJi is a developer of award-winning productivity and classroom collaboration apps on all mobile devices.

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