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The future of learning

Mobile learning, the study of the provision of education and training from wireless devices, is situated clearly in the future of learning.

The most authoritative study of the contemporary developments in learning is How people learn: brain, mind, experience and school edited by Brandsford, Brown and Cocking and published in 2000 for the National

Academy Press in Washington D.C. for the US Commission on Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education National Research Council.

They give the following reasons for the contemporary advances in the study of learning:

  • Research from cognitive psychology has increased understanding of the nature of competent performance and the principles of knowledge organisation that underlie people's abilities to solve problems in a wide variety of areas, including mathematics, science, literature, social studies and history.
  • Developmental researchers have shown that young children understand a great deal about basic principles of biology and physical causality, about number, narrative and personal intent, and that these capabilities make it possible to create innovative curricula that introduce important concepts for advanced reasoning at early ages.
  • Research on learning and transfer has uncovered important principles for structuring learning experiences that enable people to use what they have learned in new settings.
  • Work in social psychology, cognitive psychology, and anthropology is making clear that all learning takes place in settings that have particular sets of cultural and social norms and expectations and that these settings influence learning and transfer in powerful ways.
  • Neuroscience is beginning to provide evidence for many principles of learning that have emerged from laboratory research, and it is showing how learning changes the physical structure of the brain and, with it, the functional organisation of the brain.
  • Collaborative studies of the design and evaluation of learning environments, among cognitive and developmental psychologists and educators, are yielding new knowledge about the nature of learning and teaching as it takes place in a variety of settings. In addition, researchers are discovering ways to learn from the 'wisdom of practice' that comes from successful teachers who can share their expertise.
  • Emerging technologies are leading to the development of many new opportunities to guide and enhance learning that were unimagined even a few years ago.

The 'emerging technologies are leading to the development of many new opportunities to guide and enhance learning that were unimagined even a few years ago' that are studied in this book are the wireless technologies of the mobile revolution that has seen the world wide proliferation of wireless communication devices.

The evolution of distance learning has been detailed above.

The arrival of eLearning, the award of nationally and internationally recognised university degrees, college diplomas and training certification, to students who spend much or all of their study time in front of a computer screen, can be dated to 1995 and has spread globally since.

The penetration of mobile telephony worldwide dates from the 1990s. Recent statistics show that China is the country with the most mobile phones at 170.000.000 in mid-2001, closely followed by the United States and Japan. Ericsson statistics for mid 2001 give market penetration as:

Taiwan 95%

Austria 85%

Finland 81%

Iceland 90%

Israel 90%

Luxembourg 88%

with statistics being even higher for younger age groups.

The mixing of distance learning with mobile telephony to produce mLearning will provide the future of learning.

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Last update: August 2002
Editor: Paul Landers