mLearnCon 2012

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Now that I’m back at work in India with some breathing space, thought I’d be good to make a note of some of the more interesting observations I had about mLearnCon 2012. The conference was large and the sessions and presentations were quite varied, it was impossible to attend every session. Feel free to add to the comments, I’m sure there are a bunch of other posts about it on the web I have missed.‘Collected Resources’ from the #mLearnCon backchannel are here, thank you David Kelly.

Some nice mind-maps are here courtesy @KasperSpiro his posts about mLearnCon are here

Some of his reflections are spot on, well worth the time to read this post. The end-note (last two paragraphs) sums it up really well. Very similar to what I was thinking , for me, there were three key themes at the conference – learning management – Tin Can API, the inclusion of gamification in learning, and the impact of social networking and large mobile platforms that will dominate computing in the years to come. Lots of sessions at mLearnCon 2012 revolved around these themes.

Learning Management

While there were several exhibitors and presenter focused around learning management, the one technical area that captured my imagination as a designer of instruction – The Tin Can API, this single major development coming from ADL. While still essentially in ‘beta’, lots of vendors are already experimenting with implementations of this new API from ADL. Given its nature of tracking learners from beyond corporate silos into other web services, it offers a paradigm shift in ‘learner tracking’. Amit wrote about this soon after the conference, he makes some interesting points. Here is an overview of the API.

Gamification

There were a several sessions around this theme, one that especially interested me was one by Koreen Olbrish. (her blog – http://learningintandem.blogspot.in/ ) She spoke about game mechanics to target behavioral change. Must make special mention of her raising the issue of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation strategies. Looking back at the learning games we’ve worked on, realized that our design needs to account more for the types of motivation and to leverage that in an appropriate manner for changes in behavior.

Mobile games were also on the agenda for many presenters, touching upon that theme in different ways – how their mechanics apply in the workplace, can increase employee engagement, how game-based sensibilities require a different sort of design, etc. All in all, mobile games using simple mechanics that target human behavior/reward systems should work for non-mandated learning.

Social and Mobile

It was a mobile learning conference, so it goes without saying that mobile technology coupled with social networking features would figure in a big way, and that was exactly how it was. Many speakers, varied sessions and interesting presentations revolved around this particular aspect of our computing culture. A fine example about small habits and persuasion here, loved the Fogg Behavior Grid.

For a learning designer, it was quite conclusive – first, leverage mobile technology which has gone from being devices and a network to an entire platform by itself with numerous facets that can benefit learning. Second, if you aren’t using human’s social behaviors, especially the ones that appear consistently on social networks, you are doing something wrong.

How learning designers will actually get around to leveraging these platforms remains to be seen, but there is no dearth of ideas out there. Social and mobile are here to stay.

 

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