"Students are upending the traditional teacher-driven model of teaching; instead demanding content that suits their particular needs as SA's mobility landscape increasingly plays a vital role in the education sector." according to ITWeb.
|Not all schools are integrating ICTs in classrooms, but mobile learning platforms are growing. Photo: ITWeb|
While not all schools have the capacity to integrate ICTs into classrooms, a growing range of mobile offerings, including apps and curriculum-supporting Web sites, is changing the way students interact with learning material. As students start pulling content from the platforms from almost any location, commentators say the learning model has prompted significant change in the manner and pace of learning for individuals.
Moira De Roche, MD of e-learning company Aligned4Learning, says increased engagement in mobile platforms amounts to a "shift in mindset" in which students learn by drawing content through interactive technology. "The information age we live in, and the nature of accessing content on mobile devices, means teachers are not sole custodians of knowledge – they need to be able to provide context and play a facilitating role," she says.
The high appetite for mobile devices among young people is crucial to the education sector to capitalise on its functionality, according to De Roche. "If you look at the example of gaming, it adds the scaffolding and layering aspect which is so important in learning. While a curriculum goes step-by-step in building learning material, technology can achieve that quicker and in a more engaging way."
But the true impact of mobile in education will be felt as device prices come down and tech-driven learning matures, notes Graeme Bloch, visiting adjunct professor at Wits University. He says the role of teachers as facilitators cannot be understated in making sure students make the best of available technology. "If the teachers are also familiar with what is available on mobile platforms and how it works, this can go a long way in improving how students use it."
De Roche notes SA's education sector still has a "huge opportunity" to use mobility to greater effect, although the likes of Fundza Literacy Trust "have done an amazing job of encouraging reading with user-content generation".
The way forward for the technology, adds Bloch, will be in distinguishing "helpful information" amid a growing landscape of mobile learning solutions. "While it's great to have all the new platforms, the question is how to make sure that curated content is useful knowledge. A lot of the platforms would have to find ways to align with the curriculum," he says.
"With some of the technology used, you can test yourself as you go along and go at your own pace, which helps make sure that you understand.