Open and innovative digital era Mobile applications (Apps) methodology for better outreach of the low-skilled learners

The purpose of education is not just making a learner literate, but adds rationale thinking, knowledge and self-sufficiency. The use of innovative methods in educational institutions has the potential not only to improve education, but also to empower people and galvanize the effort to achieve the human development goal for the country. Nowadays, one of the most effective types of distance and e-learning technologies is mobile learning. Mobile learning, also known as m-learning, is a new way to access learning content using mobiles. According to Ericsson’s forecast (2018), 80% of the world’s population (6.4 billion people) are smartphone users. The analysis of global trends in the use of mobile technologies proves the need for the application of mobile devices in the educational activities for achieving a variety of pedagogical aims and providing remote access to learning resources in adult education process. ‘M-EASY’ project aims to supply high quality ICT-based, including mobile-based, learning opportunities for developing, re-skilling or up-skilling basic mathematical skills of low-skilled adults. The project has produced the innovative training course “M-Easy-Mathematic is Easy” for low-skilled adults, including refugees, asylum seekers, migrants. This training course is based on innovative digital era Mobile Applications (Apps) approach using problem-oriented experiential learning with reflections. Mobile Apps ensure an innovative learning pathway that provides learners with the flexibility to learn anywhere, anytime, even without internet connection. Therefore, every learner is able to have mathematics in his or her pocket.

This module explains the mobile learning methodology and how it can be applied for adult education.

This online methodical material has two main aims:

  • to introduce adult educators with mobile learning methodology in order to increase the engagement of the low-skilled learners;
  • to develop adult educators‘ digital competence in using the mobile applications (Apps) and Internet-based open educational resources (OERs) to apply for training of low-skilled learners.

By the end of the self-learning of this Module, adult educators will be able to:

  • apply mobile learning methodology for training of low-skilled learners;
  • use the mobile applications and Internet-based open educational resources for training of low-skilled learners.

I hear and I forget.
I see and I believe.
I do and I understand.

Confucius

Mobile applications are increasingly being seen as the future of learning. Mobile services and content can be easily enough integrated into the infrastructure of educational, both technologically and methodologically. The most significant advantage of the training methodology based on Mobile Apps is that the knowledge obtained by learners could be immediately used in their daily activities for work or personal life. Thus, it has a positive impact on participatory approach by increasing the learner’s engagement into non-formal learning. It is important to mention that the ‘M-Easy’ training course has a transferability potential as it could be useful for early school-leaving and youth (NEETs and drop-outs) who likes Mobile Apps as well.

Mobile devices enhance anytime and anywhere learning, providing access to learning resources outside of the education institution. This flexibility makes it possible for adult learners to minimize their unproductive time, which may enhance their work-education balance. Technological progress can contribute significantly to the improvement and spreading of the use of mobile learning, as handheld devices become lighter, cheaper, with better screen analysis, longer battery life and faster network speed.

One of the main aims of developing and designing mobile applications is to make them effective for supporting teaching and learning process. Mobile math applications allow users to explore functions, providing graphical capabilities and offer many kinds of specific calculators. There are apps designed to handle measurement tasks and educational apps for practicing on numerical and mathematical skills. Online and mobile educational tools for mathematics can assist adult learners’ problem solving, enhance comprehension of mathematical concepts, provide dynamically representations of ideas and encourage general metacognitive abilities.

For the adult educator, it is important to reach adult learner. In order to connect with their adult audience, adult educators should use the course, which is immediately useful, relevant, engaging.  ‘M-Easy‘ application will help to improve learners‘ maths skills through real life situations and problem-solving solutions. Mobile learning applications motivated the learners, making mathematics learning more enjoyable and interactive than the ordinary teaching practices.

Why are learners more motivated and engaged in mobile learning courses? Here are a few benefits of mobile learning:

  • Learn anywhere, anytime leading to better course completion rates

Mobile learning allows for flexibility by eliminating the need for learning to happen at a particular time and place. Mobile learning seamlessly integrates learning into the daily routine of the learner, which results in successful course completion and retention of knowledge.

  • Bite-sized delivery leading to faster learning

The shift towards microlearning and creating learning that can be digested in bite-sized “chunks” has been heavily influenced by the adoption of mobiles as a mode of learning. Information is more readily accessible when needed for real life problem solving. This helps in avoiding cognitive overload and increases learning.

  • Improves knowledge retention and information recall

Mobile learning leads to improved knowledge retention thanks to the fact that learners are more likely to remember crisp and concise data at the moment of need, which they find relevant and relatable. Thus, they will be able to recall information while at work or at home and perform their activity to the best of their ability.

  • Personalization leading to a higher rate of engagement

One of the widely known advantages of mobile learning is personalization. The tailor-made courses promote a higher rate of engagement and motivation for learners. Moreover, the fact that mobile learning is accessible at any time, any place helps learners stay on track with training.

  • Availability

When you adopt mobile learning in a digital training strategy, there is a unique advantage of 24×7 availability.

  • Responsive design leading to easy adoption and future proofing the content

Responsive design enables the interface to adapt to multiple device sizes, whether it’s laptop, smartphone, or tablet.

Of course, mobile learning has some disadvantages as well, for example:

  • Distraction

Mobile devices can be a great distraction for participants. For adults, mobile learning can be distracting if learners are constantly interrupted with text messages and notifications. Also, the adults like mobile games or social networking as well. Therefore, it requires self-discipline and focus on their part. However, if training is interactive and engaging, the other applications available on mobiles will not be a distraction for learners.

  • Lack of Internet connection or electricity

Using mobile devices for e-learning could be an issue if users (educators and learners) don’t have Internet connection or for example, if a battery is almost empty. Nevertheless, a lack of Internet connection, poor connection quality and access to electricity should become problems of the past.

The mobile Apps are presented in M-EASY training course as two learning tools:

Mobile Apps for e-Directory were selected from existing Apps in English language and languages of the partnership (Lithuanian, Greek, Polish, Italian), thus number and content of the Apps vary depending on the different languages. The English version includes 12 Apps for Androids.

The Set of mobile Apps is developed within M-EASY training program and consists of 21 Apps in English, Lithuanian, Greek, Polish, and Italian.

Please read the “Adult Educator Guide” and “Learner’s Guide” in order to find more detailed information on how to train and to learn the M-EASY training program.

If adult educators use Internet and different mobile apps (Android) in their everyday life, they will easy install and start using  ‘M-Easy’ applications. As a first time Android system and mobile internet users, educators need more than a mobile phone with Android and a SIM card to thrive online and to install ‘M-Easy’ apps. According to “Stepping into Digital Life” , prepared by Mozilla in 2017, there some digital skills necessary to use mobile apps for training and learning:

  1. Understanding smartphones as tools to learn, communicate and create.
  2. Understanding what apps are and how they differ from websites or desktop applications.
  3. Creating a Google account.
  4. Making strong passwords.
  5. Understanding how personal data is collected, shared, and used.
  6. Finding and installing apps from the GooglePlay Store.
  7. Updating apps from the GooglePlay Store.
  8. Copying and pasting text.
  9. Troubleshooting and recovering from crashes.
  10. Recognizing icons.
  11. Understanding and connecting to Wi-Fi.
  12. Understanding how phones connect to cell networks.

It is important to introduce the learners with use of mobile applications on Android and to spend some time of training to develop or to improve the digital skills necessary to use mobile apps in effective way.

Below, we recommend some useful tools for improving the digital skills:

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M-learning
  2. https://internethealthreport.org/2018/53-digital-skills-new-mobile-internet-users-should-master/
  3. “Stepping Into Digital Life”, Digital Skills Observatory, Mozilla, 2017
  4. https://elearningindustry.com/key-benefits-of-mobile-learning
  5. A Review of Mobile Learning Applications for Mathematics. http://dx.doi.org/10.3991/ijim.v9i3.4420
  6. Pierce, R., Stacey, K., & Barkatsas, A.: A scale for monitoring students’ attitudes to learning mathematics with technology. Computers & Education, 48(2), pp. 285-300, 2007.