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M-learning—a new stage of e-learning

Authors:

Abstract

Distance learning, electronic learning and mobile learning offer methods, which decrease the limitations of traditional education. This paper discusses the existing devices and technologies appropriate to realise mobile learning. Mobile learning as new stage of distance and e-learning is also examined.
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M-Learning - a New Stage of Е-Learning
Tsvetozar Georgiev, Evgenia Georgieva, Angel Smrikarov
Abstract: Distance learning, electronic learning and mobile learning offer methods, which decrease
the limitations of traditional education. This paper discusses the existing devices and technologies
appropriate to realise mobile learning. Mobile learning as new stage of distance and e-learning is also
examined.
Key words: m-Learning, d-Learning, e-Learning, Education.
INTRODUCTION
The traditional education is made in classrooms where the teacher presents the
learning material to a group of students. The educational technology depends mainly of
teacher and the students must physically participate in the learning process. Regardless of
obvious advantages as a direct contact between a teacher and students and immediate
feedback the traditional classroom education has many disadvantages. For example if the
student has no ability to take part in some lesson he or she will miss the training material.
These disadvantages lead to search for new and more effective educational methods.
The rapid growth of information and communication technologies and rising computer
knowledge of the students make possible appearance of these new educational forms. If
15 years ago the main accent have been on Computer Based Training which used primary
CD and local area networks as information medium, 5 years ago the accent is moved to
use of Internet and Learning Management Systems. The e-Learning as new term is
appeared.
Nowadays extremely actual and perspective is mobile learning (m-Learning).
LAYOUT
This paper discusses the existing devices and technologies to realize m-Learning as
new stage of the progress of distance learning (d-Learning) and e-Learning.
By nature the m-Learning is a form of existing d-Learning and e-Learning. Historically
the distance education has more than one hundred years of experience and traditions. It's
main characteristic is the distance and time separation between teacher and students.
The e-Learning offers new methods for distance education based on computer and
net technologies. Simultaneous to e-Learning the other forms of d-Learning still exist (for
example satellite based d-Learning).
d-Learning
e-Learning
m-Learning
Фиг.1. The place of m-Learning as part of e-Learning and d-Learning
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From the other side the m-Learning is part of e-Learning and therefore - part of d-
Learning (fig.1). In the literature there are different definitions for m-Learning. Some of
them consider it as only wireless or Internet based. We think that definition of m-Learning
must include the ability to learn everywhere at every time without permanent physical
connection to cable networks. This can be achieved by the use of mobile and portable
devices such as PDA, cell phones, portable computers and Tablet PC. They must have
the ability to connect to other computer devices, to present educational information and to
realise bilateral information exchange between the students and the teacher.
We can consider about the potentiality of the mobile learning by following statistical
information concerning the number and the growth of cell phones, PDA, smart phones and
users of mobile communications:
more than 50% working places in USA are mobile [4];
until this moment all over the world are sold more than 500 mil. cell phones with
web abilities [4];
the number of sold cell phones in Europe has growth of 25% for the first quarter of
2004 year [6];
the number of sold PDA and smart phones has growth more than 200% for the
last year [10];
every quarter the number of companies developing software for mobile devices
increases by 1000 [7];
up to 2005 the number of sold multifunctional mobile devices (PDA and smart
phones) will exceed the number of sold personal computers [2];
up to 2010 over 1 mlrd users will use wireless Internet [2];
up to 2010 there will be more than 1,8 mlrd users of the mobile communications
[2].
The realise of mobile learning is impossible without use of the mobile devices. They
vary significantly in their abilities, sizes and prices. The common ability which united them
is their mobility and possibility to make wireless connections. The main types of mobile
devices used in the education process are:
NoteBook computers. From one hand they have such abilities as desktop
personal computer; from the other hand they have small sizes and support
wireless communications. Their prices are still high.
Tablet PC. These are one of the newest mobile devices. They also have full range
of abilities as personal computers. Some of them haven't keyboard but have
software to recognise handwritten text. It is relatively expensive.
Personal Digital Assistant (PDA). They have small sizes and significant
processor power. New models support more than 65000 colors, recognise
handwritten text and can play different types of multimedia files. The main
operating systems used are Palm and Microsoft Pocket PC.
Cellular phones. The low class devices mainly can be used for voice
communication and sending and receiving of text messages (SMS). Some of their
disadvantages are low memory capacity and low data transfer rate. The cellular
phones from the higher class can be used to Internet access via WAP or GPRS
technologies. They also can be used to send and receive the multimedia
messages (MMS). Their prices continuously decrease.
Smart Phones. They are hybrid devices which combine the abilities of cellular
phones and PDA. They have smaller sizes than PDA and bigger than cellular
phones. Typically they haven't full sized keyboard and can recognise handwritten
text. They use Symbian, Windows Mobile or other operating system. As they have
Internet browsers they have potentiality to be successfully used in the mobile
multimedia education.
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The comparison between typical parameters of mobile devices used for m-Learning is
given in the Table 1.
Table 1
Parameters NoteBook Tablet PC PDA Cellular
phone
Smart
Phone
Price 2000 € 1500 € 750 € 300 € 700 €
Weight 3 kg 1,5 kg 0,150 kg 0,100 kg 0,200 kg
Screen
resolution
Over
1024x768
pixels
Over
1024x768
pixels
240x320
pixels
120x160
pixels
200x300
pixels
Memory 256 MB 256 MB 64 MB 300
memories 8 MB
Power capacity 3 h 4 h 8 h 10 h 10 h
Communication
technology
IrDA,
Wi-Fi,
Bluetooth
IrDA,
Wi-Fi,
Bluetooth
IrDA,
Wi-Fi,
Bluetooth
WAP,
GPRS,
Bluetooth
GPRS,
IrDA,
Bluetooth
Today there are several communication technologies which are used in mobile
devices. Their abilities vary vastly as well as data transmission range and range [11].
Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) is one of the leading digital
cellular systems. It uses narrow band TDMA (Time Division Multiple Access).
Originally a European standard for digital mobile telephony, GSM has become the
world's most widely used mobile system in use in over 100 countries. GSM
networks operate on the 900 MHz and 1800 MHz waveband in Europe, Asia and
Australia, and on the MHz 1900 waveband in North America and in parts of Latin
America and Africa. It provides integrated voice mail, high-speed data, fax, paging
and short message services capabilities, as well as secure communications. It
offers the best voice quality of any current digital wireless standard.
Wireless Application Protocol (WAP). This is a free, unlicensed protocol for
wireless communications. It makes possible creation of advanced communications
services and access to Internet pages from a cellular phone. WAP is a de facto
industry standard supported by a large number of suppliers. WAP devices
understand the WML language (an XML application) that is optimized for small
screens and navigation without a keyboard. WAP also supports WMLScript
scripting language.
General Packet Radio Service (GPRS). A packet-linked technology that enables
high-speed wireless Internet and other data communications. GPRS provides
about four times greater speed than conventional GSM systems. Currently 288
operators around the world have commercial GPRS services.
Bluetooth wireless technology is a short-range radio technology. Bluetooth makes
it possible to transmit signals over short distances between telephones, computers
and other devices and thereby simplify communication and synchronization
between devices.
IEEE 802.11 is a type of radio technology used for wireless local area networks
(WLANs). It is a standard that has been developed by the IEEE (Institute of
Electrical and Electronic Engineers). Wi-Fi (802.11) is composed of several
standards operating in different radio frequencies: 802.11b is a standard for
wireless LANs operating in the 2.4 GHz spectrum with a bandwidth of 11 Mbps;
802.11a is a different standard for wireless LANs, and pertains to systems
operating in the 5 GHz frequency range with a bandwidth of 54 Mbps. Another
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standard, 802.11g, is for WLANS operating in the 2.4 GHz frequency but with a
bandwidth of 54 Mbps.
Infrared Data Association (IrDA). This association defined a suite of protocols for
infrared (IR) exchange of data between two devices, up to 1 or 2 meters apart (20
to 30 cm for low-power devices). IrDA devices typically have throughput of up to
115.2Kbps or 4Mbps. Smart phones, many PDAs, printers and laptop computers
use IrDA protocols.
The comparison between parameters of existing wireless technologies is given in the
Table 2 [1].
Table 2
Technology Data Rate (Mb/s) Range (meters) Frequency Band
Bluetooth 1-2 100 2.4 GHz
IrDA 4 1-2 Infrared
IEEE 802.11a 54 20 5 GHz
IEEE 802.11b 11 100 2,4 GHz
IEEE 802.11g 54 50 2,4 GHz
From Table 2 we can make conclusions that these technologies can be used to
provide different data transmission rates with ranges less than 100 meters in the area of
the universities or so called “hot spots”. To achieve higher ranges the cellular phones
supporting WAP and/or GPRS technologies must be used.
The m-Learning advantages comparing to e-Learning are:
it can be used everywhere at every time;
most of mobile devices have lower prices than desktop PCs;
smaller size and light weight than desktop PCs;
ensures bigger students' engage as m-Learning is based on modern technologies,
which students use in everyday life;
using GPS technology the m-Learning can provide location dependent education.
The current problems of using portable devices for m-Learning are shown in the table
3. Potential technological solutions which have the abilities to solve these problems are
also given in table 3.
Table 3
Problem Potential solutions
Small PDA and cellular phone
screen sizes limit the abilities to
display information.
There are two potential solutions to this problem: to use
projection technology to project the information from the
screen into the air [12]; the other solution is to use
wireless technologies to transmit video data to the
computer or TV monitors supporting these technologies.
The small keyboards of PDA
and cellular phones make the
input of the information difficult.
The solution of this problem is technology called "virtual
keyboard" which is already used in mobile phone
Siemens SX1[5].
Today PDA and mobile phones
have limited memory size.
The solutions of this problem are to use flash memory
cards or developed by Toshiba micro HDDs with
capacity up to 4,0 GB [8].
There is necessary to regularly
charge the mobile devices'
battery.
The potential solution of this task is to use a technology
of methanol fuel cell, developed by Toshiba. There are
announces that this technology will be included in
notebook computers this year [9].
Until now it is impossible to use
applications developed for
desktop PC in mobile devices.
The solution of this problem is universal operating
system for mobile devices - Motion eXperience Interface
(MXI) created by RADIXS company [13].
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There are difficulties to use
multimedia elements (especially
video) in cellular phones.
This problem will be solved with the use of 3G and next
generation communications.
The prices for wireless
communications are still high.
The growth of the number of mobile operators and
services will lower the prices.
The change from e-Learning to m-Learning will excite the change in the educational
paradigm [3]. This will require the pedagogical methods change and communication
changes between teacher and students from one hand, and among students from the
other hand.
CONCLUSIONS AND FUTURE WORK
Regardless of existing till now disadvantages the m-Learning will became more and
more popular with the progress of information and communication technologies. It's
common use with the traditional education will correspond to the needs of educational
quality improve. The educational process will became more flexible and will fulfill to the
needs of life long learning. M-Learning also can assure good educational opportunities for
disabled people.
The future work of the authors will be to analyse the existing mobile multimedia
education systems and to develop adequate to the Bulgarian conditions one.
REFERENCES
[1] Cherry, S. The Wireless Last Mile. IEEE Spectrum, September, 2003.
[2] Jamalipour, A. The Wireless Mobile Internet: Architectures, Protocols, and
Services, John Wiley & Sons, 2003.
[3] Sharma, S., F.Kitchens. Web Services Architecture for M-Learning, EJEL,Vol.2,
Issue 1, 2004.
[4] Singh, H. Leveraging Mobile and Wireless Internet, Learning Circuits, September,
2003.
[5] CeBIT 2004 - Catch a glimpse of the future, http://www.siemens-mobile.com.
[6] European GSM Market has 25% Growth During 1Q’04 According IDC,
Computerworld-Bulgaria, Issue 16, 2004.
[7] The Mobiles' Applications Market Has Huge Potential, Computerworld-Bulgaria,
Issue 42, 2003.
[8] Toshiba 0.85-inch HDD 2.0GB/4.0GB, http://sdd.toshiba.com.
[9] Toshiba Announces World's Smallest Direct Methanol Fuel Cell,
http://www.dcviews.com/press/Toshiba-Methanol-Fuel-Cell.htm.
[10] 239% Growth in the Smart Phones and PDA Sale During Q2’2003 in ЕМЕА,
Computerworld-Bulgaria, Issue 30, 2003.
[11] http://www.ericsson.com/technology/technologies_az.shtml
[12] http://www.io2technology.com/dojo/168/index.htm
[13] http://www.radixs.com/products/product2.htm.
ABOUT THE AUTHORS
Principal Lecturer Tsvetozar Georgiev, PhD, Department of Computing, University of
Rousse, Phone: +359 82 888 276, Е-mail: TGeorgiev@ecs.ru.acad.bg
Evgenia Georgieva, MSc, Department of Computing, University of Rousse, Phone:
+359 82 888 577, Е-mail: EGeorgieva@ecs.ru.acad.bg
Assoc. Prof. Angel Smrikarov, PhD, Department of Computing, University of Rousse,
Phone: +359 82 888 743, Е-mail: ASmrikarov@ecs.ru.acad.bg
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The Wireless Last Mile
  • S Cherry
Cherry, S. The Wireless Last Mile. IEEE Spectrum, September, 2003.
Leveraging Mobile and Wireless Internet, Learning Circuits
  • H Singh