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Impact of Smart Technologies in Higher Education

Publish On : 12/11/2015

Professor Dr. Syed Akhter Hossain


In our everyday life in Bangladesh, smartphones and tablet pcs, amongst the youngest citizens, professionals and most importantly with students, is growing dramatically over the years. The momentum has reached to perhaps at the peak for the potential utilization of the smartphones and tablet pcs in higher education sector based on different country experiences described in the extensive literature on mobile learning from the previous decade.This extensive finding suggests that the ubiquity, multi-functionality and connectivity of mobile devices offers a new and potentially powerful networked learning environment any where any time basis. This article focuses on a utilization of smartphones and tablet pcs by the undergraduate student that sought to establish the extent to which students are autonomously harnessing smartphone technology and tabs to support their learning and the related activities. At present students who own smartphones and tabs are largely unaware of their potential to support learning and do not
install smartphone/tablet pc applications for that purpose just due to lack of awareness. This article reflects the awareness issues along with the effective utilization of smartphones and tabs for education and edutainment.

Over the time smartphone, as there are old and new growing brands, such as the iPhone, Samsung Galaxy series, HTC series etc emerged as the hybrid combination of PDAs (Personal Digital Assistants) and the mobile phones in the 1990s, bringing together to the consumers the connectivity and a diverse collection of hardware and software-based functionality. Smartphones and Tabs have been developed considerably since then, becoming increasingly commonplace following the release of Apple’’s iPhone in 2007 and thereafter the iPad in 2010. Most of the smart phones are moving towards Android, the mobile operating systems found on smartphones which allows users to run software, commonly known as “apps”. This apps deliver highly usable and tightly focused functionality enabling myriad applications from business to personal productivity. In some cases these apps come in the form of pre-installed on smartphones and tabs. Though many other apps in several app store are freely and cheaply available: over 800,000 different apps are available for the iPhone alone (Apple, 2014). As a result of this, the smart devices become highly customized and personalized platforms for communication, organization, information production and content management.

There are variations in size of the device but most often smartphones are only pocket size, they incorporate computing power and memory capable of running complex software and storing huge amounts of data. Functionality including full “qwerty” keyboards, cameras, audio recorders, gesture-based input, and high resolution displays, is complemented by a wide range of apps which include support for office productivity, location-based interactivity, media production, web browsing, social media, communication and entertainment.

Mobile Platform for Learning

Mobile platform for learning has emerged through a broad range of technologies, especially those that have emerged for the general consumers: smart phones, Tabs, PDAs, and cameras, for example. However, it has been truly difficult to define mobile learning platforms as well as mobile learning. As found the early definitions concentrated on the mobility of the technology which generally overlooked the significance of the personal, portable and ubiquitous nature of the devices, the new locations and communities that became available to the learner due to connectivity, the impact technology can have on engagement in environments as diverse as labs, the work place and lecture theatres, and how this can affect approaches to teaching and learning, learner engagement and control, formality and engagements.

The term mobile learning in its broad sense emphasizes learning on the move or on the mobile rather than the mobile platforms; on the other hand for others it is the personal, ever-present, and immediate nature of the devices. Form both the perspectives, this clearly emphasize mobile learning as a process characterized by the gaining of knowledge through exploration
and conversation across a variety of environments in the platform. In another literature there are taxonomies defined to comprehensively understand mobile learning: mobility of technology, mobility of learners and mobility of learning.

In the mobile platform based learning environment, various mobile devices have been used such as smart phones, Tabs, PDA, note book computers etc. In order for an effective integration of mobile learning in to a wireless classroom environment, it is important for all students to be in a group to have their own computing device equipped with wireless communication capability to conduct learning tasks while in the class. Mobile learning reduces the complicated work and repeated of the teacher. It allows the teacher to go with the readily available materials, to transfer or broadcast them to the students through the wireless network.The students can view their lessons through video. After watching a video, they can perform the online test and also view their marks. Engaging students in learning activity includes exploring, organizing online course related resources, answering the questions or assignments using their mobile devices. The m-learning is the method of e-learning which is based on the use of mobile devices anywhere,any time.

UNESCO in their ICT in Education introduced SMILE, developed by Stanford University, a mobile learning platform primarily designed to cause a paradigm shift within education by enabling students to be active agents in their own learning through interactive living with mobile in the class room. By utilizing both smart-phone and micro cloud-based technology, students create, solve, evaluate, and present questions based on their individual research and interest.

In SMILE, the quality of the student-generated question is the evidence of learning outcomes, not test scores. This presentation shares lessons learned from implementing SMILE in unique education settings in Asia: a rural village education center in South India, a rural village mixed-grade Islamic boarding school in Indonesia, a South Korean medical university with BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) iPads, and a rural village elementary school for first graders
using government-issued OTPC (One Tablet Per Child) tablets. This is now waiting to be the core drives for education in Bangladesh as part of the Digital Bangladesh movements.

Using this modular system, teacher can conduct the assessment test, online test. The class room learners are able to access the syllabus, schedules, assignments through wireless networks using mobile phones or wireless devices like Tabs, PDA, note book computers etc. This type of smartphone based learning can be individualized or personalized self-learning which enhances the problem solving skills and improve the knowledge of the student in an interactive ways.

It can be easy accessible with privacy, immediacy and permanency. Wireless technology based learning system is a state-of-the-art in the field of m-learning due to the benefits of privacy, immediacy, flexibility, accessibility, reliability, security, mobility, reusability, interactivity provided by the video-based content. The learners or teachers have the ability to learn contents from the multiple sources on different devices notebook computer, etc. The learners and teachers can have a close relationship by solving the problems and completing the assignments together. The mobile learning management system can increase the thinking skills, performance and knowledge sharing to learners.

In this article, smartphone usage in the sector of higher education is discussed. We looked at the basic of smart technologies with smart education with just a brief, some interesting introduction on Smile. We would go in depth on exploring mobile apps based learning and m-learning frameworks. Readers are requested to post their quest of the mind either in reader’s feedback section or reach through email.


Syed Akhter Hossain, Ph.D.
Honorary Professor, Amity University, India
Professor and Head
Department of Computer Science and Engineering
Daffodil International University, Bangladesh

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