Clark Quinn's Learnings about Learning
(The Official Quinnovation blog)

20 April 2012

elearning versus mlearning

Clark @ 6:45 AM

Mayra Aixa Avilar (who I hope to meet someday, maybe at mLearnCon?)pointed to this post saying “mLearning is starting to diverge from eLearning not only in specific meaning, but in approach and design as well”, and I want to politely disagree.   Depends, of course, on what you mean by elearning, to start with.

The clear implication is that elearning is about courses on the desktop.  As I’ve discussed before, when I’m talking about ‘big L‘ learning, I’m covering research, performance, innovation, creativity as well as more typical execution. As a consequence, I’m talking performance support, social networks, portals, and more, as well as courses on the desktop.  The full spectrum of how digital technology, even desktop, can be supporting performance.  Of course, I acknowledge that, to most, elearning is the simple case.

Now, what’s interesting in mobile is that it’s many other things than courses on a phone.  Please.  While it might be courses on a tablet, it’s so much more.  In my workshops, I like to ask the audience how they use their mobile devices to make them smarter, and it ranges across info, contact, notes and calendar, snapping pictures, and more. So not courses.

Which is one of the reasons I like mobile learning, because it’s a real game changer.  As we look to how mobile devices can support performance, we then open the door to looking at how performance across the organization can be supported, and we start seeing how much more a learning unit could be doing besides courses (not replacing them, mind you, but stopping relying on them exclusively).

The post did mention that context-specific things could be done, and communication, but video can be captured, and software can do context-specific things at your desktop too. It’s just that we don’t tend to think about this, and we should. Yes, there is the mobility factor, and that’s a significant opportunity.  Yet this strikes me as an opportunity to redefine elearning to mean a bigger opportunity.

So I guess I’d reframe the conversation, and say that mlearning is helping us see what technology support for performance is, and that’s helping us revaluate elearning.  A good thing.

1 Comment »

  1. Excellent post, Clark! I read the same article Mayra pointed out and had similar misgivings for some of the conclusions — albeit not as pointed or insightful as your own! I like your closing point best and it really helps summarize how IDs should be looking at how we approach the “Big L” in learning as you suggest, and that debates about “m” versus “e” and “mobile first” and “what tools are best for x or y” are only part of the discussion we should all be having right now. See you in San Jose in June!

    Comment by Robert Gadd — 20 April 2012 @ 7:17 AM

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