Mobile Meetings Series – Smart Cities: The contribution of mobile technologies to urban initiatives aimed at creating cleaner, more efficient, and enjoyable cities for European citizens
mEducation: How can mobile technologies be embedded into educational practices to improve teaching and learning and advance Europe’s Digital Agenda?
Tuesday 8 May 2012
The advance of mobile technologies has created new and exciting ways for supporting how individuals learn in both formal and informal environments. Access to information facilitated by mobile and portable devices expands the reach of education beyond the classroom and to students and individuals of any age. Such access is indeed revolutionising education as the learning process shifts from one focused on being directed towards and absorbing information, to one focused on finding, understanding and applying information in a critical and meaningful way. Mobile education (mEducation) and mLearning are fostering improved teaching and better outcomes for students.
Participants at the latest edition of the GSMA’s Mobile Meeting Series included key stakeholders from the EU Institutions and civil society who gathered for a high-level discussion on the benefits of mobile technologies for achieving Europe’s digital literacy and e-Inclusion goals. Discussing the benefits provided by mobile technologies for students – particularly those in developing countries – participants debated how to effectively employ such technologies in formalised and traditional educational systems which vary by region.
Mobile technology can in fact and more effectively empower students as they feel more responsible for their learning when it is no longer confined to a classroom. Participants provided evidence of such mobile-facilitated engagement and cited examples of teachers and students using social media and blogs to communicate across borders both within and beyond the classroom. Such technology also facilitates enhanced reading and writing skills as students are inspired to engage in activity outside the classroom and the infrastructure to do so no longer remains inside the walls of a school.
From primary education to higher education, mEducation is formally and informally expanding opportunities for learning to more individuals. However, while the potential exists for delivering such opportunities to a more diverse population, the implementation of supporting technologies is still lacking. In particular, participants discussed the barriers which prevent greater use of mEducation tools, including the need to change educational cultures. Teachers are at the centre of a cultural shift in education and training teachers to ensure that they have the confidence to bring mobile devices into the classroom is key to this development. Many teachers still consider mobile and portable devices as a distraction from traditional teaching activities and the learning environment, rather than an enhancement tool.
mEducation has a potential key role in helping the EU reach education targets, digital literacy goals, and social inclusion aims, but greater implementation at local and national level is needed to fully realise such benefits. Mobile can be used to tailor education to students and individuals of all ages and educational levels. Leveraging such potential will not only involve and engage more citizens in continuing education, but also bring tremendous benefits to the economic development of all Member States.