Is Mobile Learning A Reality Now?

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Is mobile learning becoming a reality rather than a prediction? And has this led to new generation of players emerging in the learning market place?

Over the last three years there have been various predictions, ranging from pessimistic to optimistic about the role that mobile learning will play in the world of learning. The range and use of devices from the ipad, tablet, smartphones and android devices has exploded over this period. These devices have quickly become tools for business providing users with instant access to information at the point of need, be it in the office, on the move or at home.

The growth in use and acceptance of intelligent mobile devices in the corporate arena has meant that it was inevitable that the learning industry would eventually embrace these devices to deliver new kinds of learning and support that can be used at the point of need. For as mobile devices offer universal web access, there are instant opportunities to deliver content.

Companies are waking up to the fact that these are valid learning and support tools, with many large organizations like Ford already delivering support to their front line sales teams via iphones and ipads. So has the dream now become the reality? Well for many organizations it already has. Although in the many organizations it happened first out side of the traditional learning space with the implementation of mobile solutions as performance support tools often driven by sales or customer facing departments rather than the training team.

Is the learning industry just playing catch up or is it really driving the change? As an industry we are seeing lots of Mobile Learning Tool offerings coming to market with a wave of start-ups that leverage mobile delivery as a differentiating factor. Many of these start-ups are content providers and designers that have come from outside of the learning industry bringing a new knowledge set and approach to knowledge / learning on the move.

Has this influx of new players into the industry lead to an improvement in the quality of learning content or will it lead to a degradation in the integrity of the learning content? Are these players bringing exciting design to the look and feel of content at the expense of the proven benefits of instructional design methodology? Or is this just a predictable reaction to new players moving in on the learning industry.

Well only time will tell, I would prefer to see it as the industry moving into a new generation of thinking and delivery. Traditional levels of delivery and content are being challenged as a new generation of mobile savvy learners and providers enter the work space. The learning space has often been criticized for lagging behind the gaming space in its use of design and technology to deliver engaging interactive content. The latest generation of learning content has certainly closed that gap with exciting engaging content being delivered not only to the mobile devices but also in the more traditional learning environments. As these new mobile tools are being developed in the learning space – so too will new variations of currently accepted instructional design methodologies. When looking at things from the instructional design perspective, we need as always, to determine the context and apply the method which best suit the needs of a project. Gottfredson’s Five Moments of Learning Needs do still very much apply – although I might wish to consider whether mobile is the right environment for learning the first time. Although Kindle users might choose to disagree.

So are some of Jonathon Levy’s predictions for the future beginning to come true?  Is there a move away from the ‘academic model’ of learning and a repositioning in favor of performance support and change management  with adoption of mobile learning in the corporate learning space?  Or is this change in focus explained simply by the economic turmoil moving the focus to that of knowledge as a tool in corporate competitiveness with mobile devices being the appropriate delivery method ? Which ever it is the use of mobile devices will increase in all aspects of the work space and learning will not be excluded. Mobile is not just a passing fad – but a valuable addition to the learning space.

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