Tuesday, 8 April 2008

Mobile Learning

I attended the Learning and Technology conference/exhibition in London at the end of January (one of the biggest events in the calendar). The audience of learning technology and training professionals were asked who had used Mobile Learning within their organisation.

Only 1 person put up their hand to say they/their organisation had used Mobile learning. This tells a story!!!! M-learning (learning via mobile, MP3 player, PDA, game consoles, travel laptops) has been the big thing for a while!! Too long!!!

However I will be brave and say that Mobile Learning will take off in 2 to 5 years time. The problem at the moment is that mobile software isn’t very good and there are also hundreds types of platforms out there (ie. there are no real standards). In 2 to 5 years time, there will hopefully be 2 or 3 main platforms which are all easy to use. There will also be authoring tools where content can be easily published to these few software platforms.

That’s the end of the blog……….But here is an add-on if you want to continue reading!!!…………………The question is “What are Mobile devices good for?”
Mobile devices are good for small learning bits like performance support (to tackle a particular issue out in the field) and as part of a blended approach (used as revision, quizzes and to assess your skills). Podcasts are already mainstay at many universities (all lectures are recorded), while others are using vodcasts (eg. short videos of guest speakers). Within my company (Ufi learndirect) we have tested video for mobile (short interview tips by Dawn French and John Cleese) and have used podcasts for engagement. Also just as we use the web for informal and formal information/knowledge/learning, it may be similar (ish) for mobiles (that is when we eventually have decent mobile software). Some people believe that social collaboration and file sharing will also grow on mobiles (just like it has on the web).

I’m going to be even more radical and suggest that Mobile learning will be used for longer pieces for some learners in the future (even perhaps e-learning!). The old adage was that podcasts needed to be short (5/10 minutes long), while now there are hundreds of thousands of people listening to 1 hour and longer pieces (I do)! The old adage was that video wasn’t suitable for small mobile devices. While now people are starting to watching 1 hour TV shows or films on the larger mobile devices (eg. The Apple Touch or a games console). For some learners (I hasten to stress this!; not all learners!) why can’t Mobile learning be core rather than just supplementary??!!

The learning delivered must adhere to good pedagogy standards and help learners learn (it will fail if Mobile learning is for technology sake rather than help learners learn!)
My predication for the future (famous last words!)………... Companies and training providers that pro-actively test mobile learning now will be at a commercial advantage in 3 to 5 years time. After all roughly half the world's population have a mobile ---- many, many more than broadband!! Food for thought perhaps………


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'm interested in the concept of social collaboration and interacting via mobile learning. At the mo it seems like mobile learning is very one one! It's just short content.

I too was at the learning and technology conference. the case study was a BT one (training via phone). It seemed very basic, though effective.

Jeremy B (jeremybeezer@yahoo.co.uk)