Mobile Learning (mLearning) Applications – An Example

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During the course of a routine trawl of my news-feeds I stumbled on something interesting that I found relevant to my current research into mobile learning.

This particular post was from ReadWriteWeb and writes about a new type of iPhone application called PowerOne that in the post says ‘…wants to solve the “there’s not an App for that” problem that many professionals experience when they try to use their iPhones at work.’ I see mobile learning taking many forms, perhaps this is one of them.

What make this iPhone application different is that it’s not targeted at meeting a specific need. Rather, it’s more an application that can be tailored to your specific need. This is not a tool but a tool-building application in itself. I was immediately drawn to the elegance of such an application as a learning tool. There are two clear contexts in which such a tool might be of help, and that context of use determines what type of learning aid the technology can be.

1.Tool use in a controlled environment – as a simulation
2. Tool use in the workplace – as an electronic performance support aid

The use of any tool in a controlled environment is essentially a simulation. While this does not compare to real world use, learners can learn to use the tool itself and creating templates for it. The objective of the simulation is to teach tool use and template creation. An application like PowerOne provides a great mobile based platform for learners to use the application and learn to develop templates that would be useful the in the workplace. When they use the tool in the workplace, it is being used purely as a performance support tool. There are no controls in the environment and the tool is used to improve the efficiency or quality of a job task. Perhaps in the future the line between learning tools like simulations and performance support tools will be blurred. Perhaps a learner will carry the simulation from the learning environment over into workplace turning it into a performance support tool.

What’s clear to me is that the future of mobile learning is not in courseware/content that’s rendered on a mobile device, let’s forget about that. The future of mobile learning is in the use of applications such as PowerOne which bring desktop style computing to the mobile device; it is also in real-time collaboration and information access.

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