September 1, 2010
According to Learning Solutions Magazine, American students spend 7.5 hours a day absorbing and creating media. A majority of this activity happens on cell phones, which most of today's teenagers own. According to a 2009 survey, 75 percent of 12 to 17-year-olds own cell phones. Advances in technology and the ubiquity of mobile devices have created a variety of learning methods for today's students. That said, it is no surprise that a recent report by Ambient Insight found that mobile learning--the transfer of educational content via handheld computing devices--is a growing segment in colleges and universities.
According to Campus Technology, the market for mobile learning technologies (excluding laptops and netbook computers) in the United States was $632.2 million in 2009, putting the U.S. in the lead for mobile educational technology adoption for the first time. Furthermore, the demand is expected to grow until revenues reach $1.46 billion in 2014.
The current mobile learning market has been driven by consumers and healthcare buyers, who spent more on mobile learning technologies despite the recession. Although academic institutions lagged behind both healthcare and private consumers, higher education still contributed to the growth because of learning management systems, e-readers and new tablet suppliers. However, the growth of higher education is expected to be slower than that of K-12 education. Campus Technology noted that Blackboard's Mobile Learn was cited as "the most significant product in terms of a market catalyst".
One inhibitor of growth within higher education is iTunes U, which provides free educational content to its users. Indeed, Apple recently reported that in just over three years, iTunes U downloads have already topped 300 million, making it one of the world's most popular online educational catalogs. More than 800 universities throughout the world have iTunes U sites, which gives users access to more than 350,000 audio and video files. "With such a wide selection of educational material, we're providing iTunes users with an incredible way to learn on their computer, iPhone, iPod or iPad," said Apple in its press release.
Campus Technology reported that home-grown learning platforms will also inhibit growth. As reported by Learning Solutions Magazine, Abilene Christian University, for example, launched the first ever mobile learning initiative "to provide opportunities for students and faculty to experiment with new forms of social, informational and media access on next-generation digital platforms including the iPhone and iPad".
Despite some challenges, the mobile learning industry is expected to continue growing in higher education and because of that, Learning Solutions Magazine, speculated that teachers may move into more of a mentor type role rather than just delivers of knowledge.
Compiled by Heidi M. Agustin
"Blackboards to Blackberries: Mobile Learning Buzzes Across Schools and Universities," learningsolutionsmag.com, August 18, 2010, Sesh Kumar
"iTunes U Downloads Top 300 Million," apple.com, August 24, 2010
"Report: E-Readers, LMS Driving Growth in Higher Ed Mobile Learning," campustechnology.com, August 31, 2010, David Nagel
"The US Market for Mobile Learning Products and Services: 2009-2014 Forecast and Analysis, " ambientinsight.com, August 2010, Ambient Insight