Does the device that a learner uses to access their learning really matter? Are there inherent advantages in using a mobile rather than a tablet? A tablet rather than a laptop? A laptop rather than a desktop? With BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) and blended learning becoming more prevalent these are questions that are well worth considering as there are advantages and disadvantages in using any tool. However, if an education establishment truly wants online learning to be effective, course content has to be able to be accessed by the widest range of devices possible.
It is the crucial issue. From clunky laptops to sleek phones – providers should have the fact that learners will access their learning on a vast range of devices (some of which may be less than cutting edge) in the forefront of their mind during the development of online courses so as not to exclude anyone from obtaining the training they need. The broadest range of options should be available, including both web-based tools and specific apps on different platforms. Anything less means an unlevel playing field and in education, that’s not a model anyone wants to be working with.
Online learning is a tool that offers a chance to reach people where beforehand hurdles such as geographical location or socioeconomic factors means they may have been kept away. To keep it as open as we possibly can, we have to understand that the the tools that learners use are as varied as the learners themselves and the upmost must be done to ensure that access is as fair as it can possibly be.
Ultimately it is a question of personalization. If we assume that learners can be more effective when using their own device as it is one that is comfortable and familiar to them, then ensuring that they are able to use their device (in whatever form it comes) is part of the process where we see the learner as an individual who has unique needs. Catering to those differing needs is part and parcel of helping each individual learner both access and optimise their own learning.