Education Goes Mobile

4/2/2012


Mobile connected devices are transforming the way we live and work. But could they also change the way we learn? New research shows the opportunity for mEducation (mobile education) is growing, and it could also have a big impact on students’ learning.

Tablets, smartphones, and other mobile devices are increasingly a part of society. So does it make sense for students to learn using these devices? The GSMA, www.gsma.com, announced the results from a report, produced jointly with McKinsey & Company, www.mckinsey.com, that details a number of trials in using mobile devices in the classroom.

Overall, the report says the mEducation market could generate $70 billion by 2020 in global revenue for mobile operators. The opportunity for mEducation devices is forecast at $32 billion by 2020, and would include smartphones and tablets. The core market with the most potential is the K-12 education segment, says the report. While the Asia-Pacific region will see the fastest growth, due to developing countries making swift changes, North America will be the largest overall market for mEducation products.


The GSMA believes mobile devices offer students the chance to learn in a more personalized way, with higher levels of engagement. Students “are able to take their education home and be connected throughout the day,” says Ana Tavares Lattibeaudiere, head of Connected Living for the GSMA.

While the momentum for mobile devices in education is increasing, there are still hurdles to overcome. The report says potential barriers to adoption include a perceived extra burden for IT departments; cultural resistance from teachers reluctant to integrate new teaching methods; and a general negative perception around the introduction of smartphones and tablets to the classroom.

To overcome these barriers, the GSMA says government support would be helpful, along with more mEducation pilot projects leading to workable commercial models. The increasing availability and affordability of devices useful for mEducation was also highlighted as a benefit.

The connected device market has played host to a number of devices targeted at the education market, though some of these devices have faded as quickly as they came on the scene. For instance, the enTourage eDGe was a dual screen hybrid tablet and ereader created by enTourage Systems and aimed at students. However, the device never gained market traction and disappeared from availability.

It may be that educational institutions are choosing devices targeted at a more general population—such as the Apple iPad—for use in learning. But education-focused devices are likely to continue to pop up, especially in light of the growing market for mEducation.





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