So what does mobile learning really mean today?
As devices evolved through 2000 to 2010, it was predominantly seen as a new way to access e-learning content via a mobile device such as a PDA, MP3 player or laptop. As smartphones developed, this definition expanded and “mobility” became the primary factor, whereby interactive opportunities such as webinars, could be accessed anywhere, anytime, from any device, including newly arrived tablets! (jisc)
However, today the smartphone has become even more central to our daily lives, over 2.6 billion people have a smartphone worldwide and it is predicted by 2020 they will account for 80% of mobile data traffic – so mobile learning is evolving again, however, this time it is a revolution (techcrunch). Now, they are built “mobile first”.
This means that they are designed for the smart device first and then adapted for the PC, rather than the other way around. Specifically, they integrate with mobile features such as the camera, GPS, video calling and voice recording. This brings mobile learning and the opportunities for development to a whole new level of engagement and interactivity!
Why has this revolution come about?
There are two primary reasons for this revolution:
- Mobile phones have developed to provide much more capability
Mobile phones are no longer just a phone. We can access the internet, deal with our banking, take photos and share these with others either via social media or messaging apps. We depend on them and take them everywhere we go. For mlearning, this provides an opportunity to encourage learners to carry out activities in the workplace and use these features to capture evidence of learning. As an organization you have more visibility on the quality of work being carried out.
Its features have also developed to makes us far more connected than ever before. We have access to social media, email, messaging apps as well as FaceTime and Skype! For mlearning, this means learners can be connected to others and feel better supported throughout their learning journey. Also, information can be exchanged quicker, helping your learners become competent faster.
- SaaS and the cloud means mlearning is much more accessible and affordable
The cloud has had a significant impact on IT infrastructure, making platforms easily accessible from any device at anytime, with reduced storage costs.
SaaS has also been a big driver for affordable mobile learning platforms. SaaS means that “DIY” platforms have been developed, where by you purchase the shell of the platform and all you need to do is add your content and branding! With many incorporating simple to use content creation tools, meaning that you don’t have to be a skilled programmer or instructional designer to create compelling and effective learning activities. In fact, you can have your own platform and programs for less than the cost of a ‘taxi fare’ to your local airport, per person, a year.
What this means is you get much more for less. With so much happening, there has never been a better time for organizations to consider mobile learning. However, with many different solutions, it can be confusing.
In this blog series, we will look at what to consider when deciding which type of platform is right for your organization:
- How to decide what is best for me – a checklist of questions you can use
- What can I use Mobile Learning for? – sharing user stories
- The Golden Rules – How to get the best from mobile learning
Please let us know your thoughts on mlearning and where you feel it is going. Do you have any stories you would like to share?