The pilot program took place at GCC February 16. The project is designed to explore how international students can use mobile devices such as cell phones to learn English. The project is probably the first in Canada to test the educational application of popular mobile devices, and according to Tony Tin, co-ordinator of Athabasca University Mobile Learning Project, the outlook is promising. "M-learning is a sibling to e-learning," he said. "Studying via computer is now very common here, but in some parts of the world there is already a great deal of mobile learning happening, and there is great potential for this in Canada."
One benefit of m-learning is that cell phones and other hand-held devices are relatively inexpensive and portable, more portable than even the smallest laptop computers, so they give students access to course materials anywhere and anytime. A student with a $50 cell phone could easily, for example, study while commuting or passing time in a waiting room where setting up a computer would not be practical. Tin said that, because of its low cost, m-learning also has great potential for providing educational opportunities to students in countries where access to computer technology is limited.
Any cell phone which has a text messaging function can be used for participating in the ESL lessons being used in the pilot project. Students at GCC will work through English lessons using cell phones and complete pre- and post-tests to measure their progress.
Athabasca University has pioneered many forms of distance learning and Tin believes m-learning might be one of the most significant yet. "Anything that can make learning more convenient for learners is important in a world where knowledge is increasingly a valuable resource," he said.
Athabasca University is pleased to work with GCC to conduct the testing project.
For more information, contact:
Dr. Rory McGreal
Associate Vice-President Research
Phone: (780) 675-6821
Xiao (Kevin) Su
Global Community College
Phone: 403-265-6156, ext. 226