Aug 3, 2018 at 12:00am ET By Alyssa Walker

Wouldn't it be great to take online courses from your phone or tablet? Some students already enjoy those benefits. 

As mobile technology reaches the far corners of the world, it allows more people more access to the internet--and to online learning.

Learning House's survey, in conjunction with Aslanian Market Research, found that of the 1,500 "past, present and prospective fully online students," most use or want to use smartphones or tablets for their class work. Sixty-seven percent of online students already do some coursework on their mobile devices--mostly phones and tablets. 

Of the students surveyed, about 50 percent used mobile devices s to access course content and communicate with professors. Forty-four used them to communicate with classmates. About the same percentage--45--used mobile devices to access their school's learning management system, 41 percent to conduct research, and 40 percent to complete assignments. 

The reliance on mobile devices is more than just a convenience factor. For low-income students, phones may be the only accessible path to online learning.

Let's take a closer look at how you can use your mobile devices in your online learning experience.

It's convenient.

Anytime, anywhere learning has its appeal. Anywhere you have an internet signal, you can work on your course. For commuters, these courses have broad appeal--you can work on a train, a bus, and even a plane.

More schools than ever are making online learning more adaptable, too. 

Many programs offer their school's platform on mobile-ready apps. Colorado State University's Global Campus offers essentially all the features of their virtual classrooms in mobile-friendly apps. 

At Hardin-Simmons University, online courses are responsive, meaning that they can flex their sizes and shapes depending on the type of device a student uses. 

      You only need to make sure you can access the class on the go

With accessible video, the ability to teleconference, accessible course content, and mobile-friendly study apps, like Quizlet, learning on your phone or tablet opens doors that learning from a desktop--or even a laptop--can't open.

When you're looking for an online program, make sure you select one that's responsive to your mobile device. How do you find out? Ask. If you can't get an answer, then it's probably not. 

It's also potentially a better financial choice. You can save yourself the investment in a desktop or laptop by having everything you need on your phone or tablet.

Switching to a computer may still be a good idea 

For longer assignments, projects, and papers, you may want to use a computer. Typing on a mobile keyboard poses its own set of challenges. While there are keyboards for your mobile devices, they can be awkward and clumsy.

Downloading PDFs and Word documents also pose its own set of challenges, especially if you don't have a lot of space on your mobile device. While you can download apps that make these processes easier, you may have to pay for them, and there's no guarantee that they'll work without constant upgrades.

That's why it's super important to understand your program's learning platform before you begin, to make sure it's compatible with mobile devices, and won't be overly frustrating.

If you're not willing to shift to a computer full-time, at least know where you can work, either at home or a library, or even your school's learning lab. Making comments on them adds another layer, too.

Another benefit of switching to a computer? It's likely that if you're on your computer or laptop, you're working in a quieter environment. You're likely not commuting, and, at a minimum sitting someplace you can work.

Battery issues are another factor, as is your data plan. Consider carefully. Not sure? Ask around.

Ready to work on that online course on your phone or tablet? Get started, and take your learning with you wherever you go.

Learn more about online studies.

 

 

 

Alyssa Walker is a freelance writer, educator, and nonprofit consultant. She lives in the White Mountains of New Hampshire with her family.

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