As I suggested in my post on directions for the year, I intend to be stirring up a bit of trouble here and there. On a less formal basis, I want to suggest that another area where we need a little more light and a little less heat (and smoke) is mobile. There is huge opportunity here, and I am afraid we are squandering it.
We’re doing a lot wrong when it comes to mobile. As Jason Haag has aptly put it, elearning courses on a phone (or tablet) is mobile elearning, not mobile learning (aka mlearning). And while there’s an argument for mobile elearning (at least on tablets), and strong case for augmenting formal learning with mobile (regardless of device), mobile elearning is not mlearning’s natural niche.
mLearning’s natural niche is performance support, whether through content (interactive or not), or social. Think about how you use your phone? When I ask this of attendees, they’re using them to get information in the moment, or find their way, or capture information. They’re not using them to take courses!
So we need to be thinking outside the course. To help, we need case studies, across business sectors, and across the areas. Which means we need people to be getting their hands on development tools.
Which is a second problem: the tools that are easiest to use are being used to create courses. The elearning tools we use are increasingly having mobile output, but it’s too easy to then just output courses. It turns out one of the phenomena that characterize our brains is ‘functional fixedness’, we use a tool in the way we’ve used it before. Yet we can use these tools to do other things. And there are tools more oriented towards performance support. Anything that creates content or interactivity can be used to build performance support, but we have to be doing it!
There’s more that we need to be doing in the background – content, governance, strategy – but we need to get our minds around mobile solutions to contextual needs, and start delivering the resources people need. Mobile is big; the devices are out there, and they’re a platform for so much; we need to capitalize.
The place where you’re going to be able to see the case studies and explore the tools and start getting your mind around mobile will be this summer’s mLearnCon (in San Diego in June!). And you really should be going. Also, if you are doing mobile, you really should be submitting to present. We need more examples, more ideas, more experience! (If you need help writing a proposal, I’ve already written a guide.)
Really, presenting is a great contribution to yourself and the industry, and we really could use it. Help us make mobile mayhem by showing the way. Or, of course, join us at the conference to get ready to mix it up. Hope to see you there.