M-learning is learning that takes place with the use of mobile technology such as cellular phones, iPads, and other small, handheld type devices. It might be suggested that m-learning is the next logical advancement of e-learning. Like all forms of learning there are positives and negatives. The negatives are similar to e-learning. One of the main issues with m-learning is availability of the technology. Obviously, one concern is that not every student will have a smartphone or similar portable device that can utilize the many mobile apps. Thus, before we can investigate the potential use of mobile devices such as cell phones as educational tools, we need to have some idea of their prevalence. Research conducted by Michael Hanley (personal communication, September 8, 2012) provides such insight. His research, conducted at Ball State University, reports 99.9% of students surveyed have a smartphone (Hanley, personal communication, September 8, 2012). Further, he reports that over 95% of students surveyed have Internet capability on their mobile phones. Although Hanley's survey does not directly address people with disabilities or educational applications (although a reasonable percentage of students did report using the phone to access books, 52.1% (Hanley, personal communication, September 8, 2012), the glaring reality is that the vast majority of students have a mobile phone--and we can and should use it to educate them.
Even though many students report having mobile devices, we must be cautious in creating curriculum that is solely focused on the required use of a mobile unit. Speaking of curriculum, Mobl21 reports, there is "no widely accepted learning theory for mobile technologies" (Mobile, 2012). Other concerns of m-learning that Mobl21 reports include cultural attitudes, distraction from learning, and the variability of devices (Mobile, 2012). But the positives may outweigh the negatives.
The positive aspects of m-learning might provide an indication to what direction learning is headed. Although one of the negatives is the availability of mobile devices, this can also be seen as a positive. The cost of mobile technology continues to decrease and earlier generation smartphones are readily available, which suggests that a gaggle of students could be provided with a mobile device at relatively low cost (yet, we must remember the fees associated with most carriers). Aside from this initial set up, m-learning provides for educational opportunities outside the classroom as well as in. Students are able to compose thoughts and ideas that they can later transfer to another medium. When an idea hits them, they can respond by doing a freespeak as the idea is fresh. More relative, Marc Prensky acknowledges that writing can be learned on the most basic of cell phones (2np). Students are also able to note sources, gather information, and even conduct on-the-spot interviews using their device as a recorder. Mobl21 also adds that m-learning encourages 21st Century technological success and fosters an individualized "learning experience" (Mobile, 2012). It is the individualized learning that I believe is the most productive for students with disabilities.