Last updated: 05.01.12

E-learning 'will be advanced by mobile technologies'

The advancement of e-learning will soon be in line with the development of smartphones and tablets, according to one expert.

A representative from the Beyond Distance Research Alliance at the University of Leicester, suggested that mobile technologies will be an important driving force behind the future of the online learning industry.

Grainne Conole, director of the alliance at the university, said: "I was always dubious about mobile learning until I saw things like the iPhone - which is transformative - and some of the things like tablets for example."

She added that mobile devices are listed as the most likely technology to have the largest amount of influence in the learning sector.

This is according to the yearly NMC Horizon report, which indicates what technologies are most likely to have an impact on one, three and five-year time frames.

Additionally, the latest NPD DisplaySearch Quarterly Mobile PC Shipment and Forecast Report showed that sales of devices such as tablets accounted for 25.5 per cent of all PC shipments last year. This demand is expected to see a 12 per cent year-on-year rise in the coming 12 months.

"Certainly, I know at our institution that the criminology department is planning to give all their students on a new master's program iPads as part of the learning package - which will be pre-loaded with all their course material, so clearly students are choosing these devices," Ms Conole commented.

Furthermore, she mentioned that the idea of students bringing their own devices to seminars, lectures and tutorials is becoming a growing trend and that this will help to further advance the use of the virtual classroom.

Tom Kuhlmann, editor of The Rapid E-learning Blog, recently suggested that learning on the go is a major selling point for distance education and that mobile technologies could help to facilitate growth and demand.

He mentioned that e-learning is still a growing trend and that it is being helped along by the struggling economy, which could encourage people to take on more cost-effective solutions to education.