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Updated: December 13, 2009 00:12 IST

3G will boost mobile learning platform

M. Dinesh Varma
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A mobile learning experience. Photo: M. Vedhan
THE HINDU A mobile learning experience. Photo: M. Vedhan

With 3G mobile services expected to take off in the country soon, mobile learning or m-learning, is set to become a game-changing platform for delivery of learning content, say industry experts.

“A faster network that can support streaming of text, audio and videos sets up an ideal platform for m-learning initiatives,” says Prabal Mall, Vice-President, Content (e-Learning), Expertus, an m-learning solutions company that operates on the verticals of technology development, corporate training/retooling and academia.

The high bandwidth speeds on a 3G network would mean that content providers would be able to stream rich media mobile content with 2D and 3D animations to mobile phones. Already, the m-learning space has lit up with a diversity of content ranging from “Skill-Pills” and mock CAT/GRE tests to quiz and gaming tools.

The three major areas of mobile learning that will see huge benefits from 3G networks were synchronous video, asynchronous multimedia and real-time collaboration, said Amit Garg, Director (Content Solutions) of Pune-based Upside Learning.

The ability to conduct multilateral video calls offers academia and enterprises a unique opportunity to deliver learning to an entirely new audience beyond the physical constraints of a campus or classroom.

Multimedia repositories could become commonplace and change the way content is viewed. It is also pointed out that when the network provides large pipes of data, any sort of content on the Internet becomes instantly accessible regardless of time and location.

The advantages of the m-learning platform include interactive experience, handy interface that can be taken even into the remotest village, easy peer-to-peer sharing. However, those in the industry admit that an inherent shortcoming is the small size of the screen real estate.

The shorter attention span of users for learning on the mobile is another challenge that content developers are addressing. Typically, m-learning content optimises on text and is confined to only essential images and animations.

Upside Learning has recently tied up with Skill-Pill in the U.K. to bring mobile learning catalogue in India. These are video-based mini tutorials that are completely platform independent and work on various types of connections.

A pill dealing with topics ranging across leadership, management or personal skills can be delivered directly to your mobile device via an SMS link, and will download in 2-3 minutes.

“Simply put, the biggest challenge facing m-learning today is the lack of a standardised delivery platform,” said Mr. Garg.

Given the wide range of competing devices, creating content or applications that can be accessed across multiple platforms presents a challenge. “However, the mobile web offers a platform that’s standardised and works across all platforms. This is the opportunity, a singular delivery platform that is perfect for delivering learning interventions,” he said.

Experts also see an increasingly relevant role for gaming in the m-learning zone. The genres of games on the phone will not differ much from current computer games; however, the situations in which they are played and their design will differ drastically.

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