By Lee Sharma, CEO, Simply Do Ideas
Mobile technology has grown exponentially. Smartphone ownership has reached record levels with 91% of 18 to 44 year olds owning a mobile phone [Deloitte 2016]. But a mobile is not a must-have accessory; it’s an integral part of young people’s lives.
Millennials and the upcoming ‘Generation Z’ have never known a world without technology. Research from mobileinsurance.com suggests that the average consumer spends 90 minutes a day on their phone, equivalent of 23 days a year. According to a global study of university students by the International Center for Media & the Public Agenda (ICMPA) in partnership with the Salzburg Academy on Media & Global Change, young people are addicted to technology, experiencing frustration, anxiety, panic and heart palpitations when cut off for 24 hours.
Leaving the dark ages
Businesses and brands are already well established in using mobile technology to engage with consumers. It’s changed the way we communicate, shop, listen to music, bank and consume news. If education were not to embrace mobile technology, it would be firmly rooting itself in the dark ages and left behind by every other sector. The question has moved from ‘should’ education use mobile technology to ‘how’, and how can we keep up?
The benefits of utilising mobile technology in education are clear. No longer is the learning experience constrained by the walls of a classroom or lecture theatre. Previously, when a student left these physical confines, the engagement with their teacher or lecturer ended until the next defined point in time as designated by their timetable. However, mobile technology allows educators to step into the world of the young person at any time, in any place and without distraction to create a more rounded, continuous and fulfilled learning experience.
The accessibility of mobile and the opportunity it provides to interact on a one to one level allows possibilities which were previously unachievable in mass-delivered education. Learning can now be personalised and differentiated to meet the needs of individual learners. Teaching can be delivered at different levels to students on the same course depending on their needs with additional content and support provided where required. Educators can also easily cater for different learning styles using technology with information via the likes of video, PDF or chat functions which gives learners a much better suited learner journey based on their needs.
New mobile environment
Different characters will excel and flail in different circumstances. A less assertive student may lack the confidence to raise a hand in a lecture theatre or demonstrate a lack of understanding in a group seminar. However, mobile platforms provide an environment where you don’t have to fear ridicule for getting an answer wrong. Furthermore, the opportunity to gamify the testing process could change how we view exams in the future.
In my view, there is no risk of technology ever displacing the inherent need for teaching staff and the value they deliver as a key facilitator in the learning process. Technology is about empowering teachers, and I strongly believe that mobile technology is simply a tool to enable learning rather than in any way replacing humans.
And it’s not just the set delivery of courses that mobile technology can play a pivotal role in; it’s also the extra-curricular activities and personal development that should be inherent throughout the learning process. You’ll frequently hear about how education providers need to be equipping young people for the world of work yet with jam-packed curriculum and assessment targets, there’s only a finite amount of resource to do so.
However, this requirement should not be neglected and technology can hold the solution. By equipping students with the right tools, educators can inspire the next generation to become future business leaders, innovators and entrepreneurs. These conversations can be started in the classroom and continued via on the go technology using bespoke platforms designed to lead the student along the learning process with the opportunity to engage with their lecturer and be supported at any time.
Mobile technology has to be embraced by education rather than phones just being seen as a distraction. This does present a challenge as it involves a huge amount of trust but learners and educators have to realise the opportunities and demonstrate how the benefits can far outweigh the risks.
Simply Do Ideas is an online platform supporting the development and growth of early stage business ideas.