Mobile Learning Basis – Internet Growth
by Mark Sivy
Keeping in mind that mobile learning is the study and ethical practice of facilitating learning and improving performance through various contexts and interactions by creating, using, and managing appropriate technological and educational processes and resources, it is dependent upon the Internet. In this post, I’ll discuss the impact of the Internet on online learning in general. Mobile learning is a subset of online learning, which will be discussed in my next post.
The use of the Internet for purposes of communication and information has experienced rapid growth during the past two decades. The 2013 Pew Internet Use Survey results show that over 86% of all adults (18+ years of age) in the United States are connected to the Internet, whereas in 1995 it was 14%. The Miniwatts Marketing Group maintains global Internet usage statistics, which indicated in June 2012 that over 34% of the global population were connected to the Internet and that this indicated a 566% increase since 2000.
The point made by this Internet usage information is that the path is for the broad use of the Internet as a conduit for mobile learning is widening. In a 2012 global Internet user survey by the Internet Society, 98% of the participants agreed that the Internet is essential for access to education and knowledge.
Evidence indicates that the use of the Internet for education is steadily increasing and has seen the fastest growth in higher education. An August 2011 Pew Research Center survey, The Digital Revolution and Higher Education, found that 77% of colleges and 89% of four-year universities of offer online courses. Also reflecting this growth in online courses is a Sloan Consortium and Babson Survey Research Group report, Grade Change: Tracking Online Education in the United States, 2013, which found that over 7.1 million higher education students (33.5%) took at least one online course in the Fall 2013 term. In terms of fully online higher education institutions, the Online Education Database organization currently contains reviews of over 1847 higher education schools in the US that offer online courses.
In the K-12 setting, there has also been a rapid increase in the use of online courses and resources. There is an increasing emphasis on online and blended courses and online learning systems, such as found in the National Education Technology Plan, released by the U.S. Department of Education in 2010. A Project Tomorrow survey report, Learning in the 21st Century: 2011 Trends Update, found that three times as many high school students and twice as many middle school students are learning online as compared to the original 2007 report. It was also noted that in 2011, 27% of all high school students took at least on class online. In Project Tomorrow’s 2013 Trends in Online Learning Virtual, Blended and Flipped Classrooms, it is reported that 43% of US school districts offer access to online courses. In iNACOL’s 2013 Fast Facts About Online Learning states that five states – Alabama, Florida, Arkansas, Virginia, and Michigan – require online learning for students in the public schools. According to the Evergreen Education Group’s 2013 Keeping Pace with K-12 Online Learning Report, 26 states have state-led virtual schools, 24 states have blended schools, 30 states have fully online schools, and the number of private online learning options is increasing.
Online learning is also playing an important role in the multi-billion dollar corporate training industry as seen in articles such as one at Forbes and another at CNBC. These articles and others indicate the robust adoption of online learning as an active component of corporate training and development efforts. An infographic at the e-Learning Industry website claims that in 2013, 77% of American corporations were using online learning. Global Industry Analysts, Inc. projects that by 2015, education and corporate e-learning will be a US$107 billion industry.
Mobile learning is a variation of online learning which takes into account both the benefits and limitations of mobile devices, typically a tablet or smartphone. Even though the concept of mobile learning (or m-learning as it is often called) has become one of the latest buzzwords in academic and corporate settings, it’s been around for many years with its roots set in scientific visions of the future and science fiction. Today’s perspective of mobile learning is based upon the growing availability of broadband Internet access and the proliferation of Wi-Fi and mobile services such as 3G and 4G.
Reflection Point – “The next big killer application on the Internet is going to be education.” ~John Chambers