The Nature of Arguments, Zombies! — Intro to Zombie Studies, Einstein’s Ethics are just a few of thousands of iPhone education apps and lectures transforming how we receive, consume and interact with education. Mobile education is meeting the new techno lifestyle that blends work with play and play with education by offering flexibility, personalized content, review systems, unparalleled interactivity (think accelerometer), real time communication and cross platform compatibility (email, calendar, web, voice, sms, etc).
Although Apple is pioneering the next evolution in mobile learning, the first true visionary of m-learning was Alan Kay. In the 1970s, Kay, along with his colleagues at Xerox, spearheaded the Dynabooks project that aimed to provide “a personal computer for children of all ages.” This project wasn’t to be a mobile X-Box. Kay’s vision was to teach children with mobile devices — enabling them to learn in a way most conducive to their personal learning style, regardless of their location.
Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO, envisions the company to lead the mobile education revolution. “Apps help transform the way teachers teach and students learn. And there are apps for every subject and every stage of learning,” writes Apple. The launch of iTunes U is one of the largest steps forward by a single tech company. iTunes U signed on over 600 universities – including Stanford, Yale, MIT and Oxford – to deliver education materials via smartphone devices and tablets.
Why is Apple so keen on the mobile edu market? According to Ambient Insight report, the US mobile learning market is growing at a five-year compound annual rate of 21.7% and revenues reached $538 million in 2007. Surprising other mobile device manufacturers are not capitalizing on the opportunity. While Google’s Android and RIM platforms have several hundred education-related apps combined, neither of them have been as aggressive in the education market as Apple — which gives company a head start in the race to capture an emerging class of users seeking education on their mobile devices.
As consumers become more and more tethered to their mobile devices for communication, navigation, entertainment, information and soon payment, smart phone functionality can make education more intuitive, mobile, accessible and fun for children to back to school adult learners. And with more mobile devices — tablet and smart phone alike — flooding the consumer market, expect education on the go.
Mobile learning is still in its infancy and there is much more we should expect to come from the emerging market. Instead of spending thousands of dollars on new edition books, apps could be updated in a 20-second, download; students don’t have to break their backs carrying a small library on their backs; teachers can better manage student assignments through a networked computer system; learning programs can adapt to the individual’s learning style. The possibilities are boundless. Expect the m-learning market to reach some significant momentum in the next ten years.