Cellphones as Educational Tools
The number of cellphone users in the world has grown over the years accompanied by a rapid technological growth. By the year 2016, statistics showed that 62.9% of the world population owned a cellphone. The growth in cellphone ownership has been sustained in 2017, and it is expected that by 2019, 67% of the population in the world will own a cellphone. It is important to note that as time passes, technological advancements are making it possible to produce cellphones with very high capabilities and hence they have been referred as Smart Phones. The cellphone has changed different aspects of life as people are using it for other purposes other than making phone calls (Brown & Irwin 388). For example, in Kenya, there is an established system of sending and receiving money through cellphones a Service known as MPESA. The service also allows the subscribers to make payments for their different bills via the same MPESA service. From these developments that are making the cellphone more than a communication tool, it is critical to evaluate ways that the cellphone can be used as an education tool. The cellphone fits as an education tool mainly because modern technology makes it possible for the cellphone to be connected to the internet. On the internet, there are limitless learning tools that can be utilized for education. From the concept of the cellphone accessing the internet as well as other capabilities it has, it is, therefore, possible to explore the ways that the cellphone can be an education tool. The discussion below, thus, shows ways in which the cellphone can be an education tool.
Today’s cellphones can access the Internet and download applications. E-books are compatible with most cellphones, and therefore the users can download them and read. With the cellphones having an enlarged storage, the users can be able to download the books and store them for use during their convenient time. It is critical to note that as opposed to the earlier versions of e-books, modern e-books come with enhanced features like videos and tutorials (Ally & Mohamed 11). The videos make learning interesting especially for young children because they are entertaining. Students also have the option of doing exams and getting automatic marks from the applications. The students can therefore quickly learn and correct their mistakes without necessarily having to wait for their tutors.
The applications also come with the capability to help the students pronounce new and foreign words correctly. Using the cellphone, the student just needs to highlight the word he or he wants to learn the pronunciation and the audio will be projected through the cellphone speaker. The cellphones can also be used when writing notes. The audio versions of the e-books allow the users to listen as they write their notes and people can use such version to make their learning effective. Instructors can also email e-book pages with questions to their students where they can answer them and send them back for marking. The interactive features of e-books that are accessible through cellphones can be used by students for self-education and avoid time wastage that usually occurs when students are stuck and reading and must wait for the teacher to explain.
The mobile applications can also be used to introduce new learning methods. Students often suffer from boredom whenever they spend a lot of time in a classroom using the same methods of learning. The ability of the cellphone to manage applications has however created an opportunity to make learning more interested through the introduction of new methods to pass the same knowledge. For example, games that are installed in the cellphone can be used for learning. A student may feel bored when reading a book to learn spelling and pronunciation but become more interested when he or she is taught through a spelling game on the cellphone. The games have the features to highlight spelling mistakes and in turn, reduce the points a player is scoring. The application keeps encouraging them not to repeat the same mistake next time for him or her to be declared the winner. The fun games can also help the students to participate in a healthy process of thinking that helps them in understanding things from diverse perspectives (Kukulska-Hulme, Agnes & John 78)
The cellphone can be used to enhance communication
Learning depends on effective communication, and the cellphone can enhance communication at different levels. To begin with, the parent-teacher communication can be enhanced when the parents utilize the platforms provided by cellphone to communicate and discuss how to facilitate the learning of students. The teachers can use messages on their cellphones not only to invite parents to meetings but also give them feedback about the progress of their children (Keegan 60). On the other hand, communication is important between the teachers and students. Students can use the cellphones to call their lecturers and seek clarifications on their assignment or ask academic questions whenever they happen to be studying a certain topic that they do not understand. When marking the scripts submitted by students, teachers can use the cellphone to contact the students and inform them an area of weakness and how what they can do to improve and get better grades next time.
Another critical form of communication is the one that takes place amongst the students. The cellphone can play a big role in helping the students to exchange knowledge amongst them and educate each other through discussion tools. WhatsApp is a unique tool that runs on cellphones and one that can be embraced by students that wish form a group and educate each other through the discussion groups. Students that own cellphones that support WhatsApp are at the advantage of adding their friends and classmates to a WhatsApp group that can be used to discuss educational matters and even plan for academic trips that make learning interesting. The WhatsApp groups are powerful tools for learning because they allow the students to share in different formats. The application allows the students to share text documents, videos as well educational audio clips from their favorite mentors. The WhatsApp groups mimic ordinary one on one discussions where people can argue their points out with supporting evidence, and other people can give their dissenting opinion until finally the correct answer is produced. The groups make interaction fun especially for young people because they can use Emoji’s to show all manner of reactions to a certain answer, for example putting a smiling face or even laughing. WhatsApp groups can make the cellphone a powerful learning tool since even students that usually shy out from participating during class lessons can comment without fear as they feel motivated by not being surrounded by a lot of people.
The cellphone can also be used as an educational tool that enhances the communication of learners by allowing them to meet and interact with each other on social sites. Twitter and Facebook are common sites where a lot of learners frequent and use to make inquiries. The cellphone can allow people that want to go for higher learning to easily look for the best schools with courses of their choice without much struggle. Today people can use their cellphone to log into their Facebook or Twitter accounts and post the kind, of course, they want to study and their preferred country and then leave their cell number for their friends who may have useful information regarding a suitable college. People with useful information can call and even help the individual apply and make the necessary arrangements to join the college. Comparisons can also be made using the different offers given because Alumni from different colleges comment about both their good and bad experiences in particular schools and help others in making informed decisions when selecting the schools to study in. The cellphone can, therefore, be a useful educational tool by helping learners to select and join the best schools (Verbik, Line & Veronica 13).
The cellphones can also help the students in time management that is essential to successful learning. Cellphones have different features that can enable the students to manage their time effectively. For example, almost every cellphone comes with a calendar and an alarm. Students that usually experience challenges in waking up to prepare for school or even study for the exams can benefit from the alarms. The cellphones also have reminders that are set to remind the students of critical activities that they are supposed to undertake. The calendar can help the students to mark important dates in the semester and especially their continuous assessment dates so that they can be prepared early enough and achieve their desired grades.
Learning through the Internet
Modern cellphones can connect to the internet at high speeds, and the internet contains limitless academic resources as well links to the best tutors and academic mentors for students. The students can access many online libraries from any location provided there is network connectivity and complete their projects without having necessarily to spend their time in the school library. The learners can also view educational YouTube videos from their cellphones and also share them with their classmates (Anderson 15). There are also some dedicated online teachers that assist students from different disciplines to learn and acquire practical knowledge, and the ability of the cellphones to connect to the Internet and the cellphone can provide the links to such teachers. The Internet also hosts millions of tutorials and learners that have access to cellphones can download such tutorials and build their knowledge (Sandars, John & Catrion)
In conclusion cellphones can be critical educational tools because they can facilitate online learning that makes learning much convenient especially to people who are already working and have young families. Students need to be taught on how to utilize features of their cellphones for learning and not to just concentrating on downloading applications that they use to watch movies and have fun. The potential of the cellphone in education has not yet been fully implemented, and players in the education sector need to work hard towards incorporating the cellphones fully to be used for educational purposes. Governments also need to start investing in the creation of more and easy to use education applications
Ally and Mohamed, ed. Mobile learning: Transforming the delivery of education and training. Athabasca University Press, 2009.
Anderson, Terry, ed. The theory and practice of online learning. Athabasca University Press, 2008.
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Keegan, Desmond. “The incorporation of mobile learning into mainstream education and training.” World Conference on Mobile Learning, Cape Town. 2005.
Kukulska-Hulme, Agnes, and John Traxler, eds. Mobile learning: A handbook for educators and trainers. Psychology Press, 2005.
Sandars, John, and Catriona Morrison. “What is the Net Generation? The challenge for future medical education.” Medical teacher 29.2-3 (2007): 85-88.
Verbik, Line, and Veronica Lasanowski. “International student mobility: Patterns and trends.” World Education News and Reviews 20.10 (2007): 1-16.