The COVID-19 pandemic has upended much of what was considered normal and routine in everyday life around the globe. Business, healthcare, transportation, travel - the massive disruptions in industries around the globe has not only forced certain industries to grind to a halt, but additionally has forced a wave of desperate innovations as people find new ways to perform essential life activities (work, learn, play, eat, sleep, etc) from a distance.
Perhaps no industry epitomizes this upheaval and transition to a “new normal” than education - with schools closed or significantly limiting in-person interactions, the entire world has had to rethink the way that students learn. However, while the lack of in-person school is affecting many learners and their families, the silver lining has been a shift to innovation and finding new ways to deliver instruction and content knowledge through different mediums.
Which brings us to mobile learning. While education-related apps, online schools, and other forms of learning on the go have been emerging for the past decade, the COVID-19 pandemic has rapidly accelerated the growth of mobile learning as a viable alternative to traditional classroom settings. The reality is, while teachers can’t provide the social benefits and development of a classroom environment, many content areas (for example, programming and coding) are actually well-suited for students to learn from the device in their pocket.
So what do you need to know about the growth of learning on mobile? What emerging trends should you watch as you decide whether mobile learning is the right bet for you? Let’s look at some of the benefits, continuing challenges, and potential opportunities that are being revealed as more and more people choose a mobile learning option.
Benefits to the growth of learning on mobile
First, let’s start with the upsides to the mobile learning movement, to help you understand why so many people are flocking to it these days. Aside from the obvious COVID-19 related needs for social distancing and limitations on travel, there are some strong arguments for mobile learning as a viable alternative to traditional schooling that were becoming clear even before this past spring. They include:
Quite simply, mobile learning offers an “on-demand” method for learning that the rigid traditional school structure hasn’t adopted yet. From courses that let you learn at your own pace (asynchronously is the educational term) to removing the need to live near or commute to an educational institution, the flexibility of learning from your mobile device is simply inherent.
In traditional schools, the physical school environments were often built and designed years, decades, or even centuries ago. As such, trying to design a 3D printing lab or building a new programming center to teach a variety of programming languages requires a significant investment. Mobile learning allows schools to offer new and responsive course programs without investing serious time and money to do so.
Since traditional schooling environments require overhead for facilities maintenance, repairs, and staffing, mobile learning removes significant costs for providers - and those savings are passed along to students.
Everyone recalls sitting through a class and promptly forgetting the content as soon as you walked out the door. It’s no wonder that many mobile learning companies report significantly increased engagement of learners through mobile platforms - by stripping away unnecessary classes and delivering relevant content (often on-demand), students can engage with concepts and tutorials that are effective and appropriate.
Perhaps most importantly, removing barriers associated with cost or physical location opens up an important door for many students who may (for various reasons) not have access to educational opportunities. Mobile learning can level the playing field, allowing students from all over the globe the same access to learning resources and qualified instructors.
Challenges and Trends in Mobile Learning
It would be unfair to discuss the rise of mobile learning without acknowledging some of the existing challenges it still faces. Let’s also take a look at some of the ways companies are offering solutions that are addressing those challenges to fully realize the benefits of mobile learning.
Internet and Device Access
Anyone who has read about the challenges of remote learning in urban and rural environments knows that this has been a consistent thorn in the side of educational professionals. But, unlike even a few years ago, mobile devices have become nearly ubiquitous in society - meaning that apps designed for remote learning are more accessible to students than ever before.
Substituting for In-Class Experiences
It is true that not being able to chat and collaborate with fellow learners removes much of the important social aspects that educational environments have always delivered. Luckily, as video meeting platforms and interactive chat programs continue to evolve (especially so during the past six months), connecting with teachers and fellow classmates is becoming more and more efficient by the day.
Just like the social aspect noted above, many schools also offer the opportunity to build relationships when experts visit a classroom or in extracurricular functions. However, mobile learning offers something that in-person often doesn’t -- the ability to build and maintain a work portfolio in real-time. While networking remains limited by the pandemic, establishing a robust portfolio that tracks your learning and skills through achievements and metrics can make you even more marketable to potential future employers.
Comprehensive Educational Experiences
One of the foundations of liberal arts education has always been the diversity of academic coursework, asking students to become proficient in important subject areas peripheral to their specialty to build a more well-rounded individual. However, those liberal arts programs often significantly pre-date the Internet - with the prevalence of both a variety of mobile education apps and resources thanks to the web, filling in the gaps while receiving a more robust education in your area of interest offers an exciting alternative to the traditional environment.
Ensuring Instructors are Qualified
One of the concerns of potential mobile learners is whether the instruction they receive will match the quality of in-person classes. While this may be an issue with some apps, the ability for experts in a field to pre-record tutorials, design quizzes or challenges for learners, and provide scheduled “office hours” to answer student questions can more than offset this concern.
Is Mobile Learning a Good Option for Learning to Code?
There may be no better field of study to learn on mobile than programming -- in fact, mobile learning only exists thanks to programmers! But beyond the convenient opportunity to learn about building technology while using the technology built by what you learn, there are also some unique benefits for individuals interested in learning to code that other subject areas can’t offer:
Practicing with Code Is Already Common Practice
Even students at the most prestigious data science programs in the country hone their craft by sitting down at their laptop or jailbreaking their phone to play with the source code. Learning to code with a mobile device delivers the same experience without the downsides of in-person learning listed above.
Coding Apps Offer Great Incentives For Learners
Some of the biggest benefits of using a coding education app like SoloLearn are the unique features available - a comprehensive code playground to practice with real code, a thriving community of fellow learners, and the ability to build a profile to track achievements and list certificates of mastery to keep yourself motivated.
Choose From A Menu Of Languages To Learn
Many traditional programming and data science programs specialize in specific languages or areas in the workforce. However, mobile learning apps for programmers offer you the ability to grow your skills with a wide variety of languages, from Python to Swift and everything in between. It’s like building a Netflix queue of languages you can use to build things and find job opportunities in the future.
Learn At A Pace That Works For You
One of the biggest critiques of traditional education has always been the bureaucratic, rigid structure of learning. Mobile learning is the perfect fit for the coding lifestyle -- since many programmers work on flexible schedules, often for companies located around the globe, it is only fitting to learn coding with the same flexibility and adaptability that programmers rely on during their day jobs.