I’ll Take My Learning ‘To Go’

Guest Blogger: Taylor Harris

Before I rush out the door, I do a quick inventory review. Laptop: check. Blackberry phone: check. iPod touch: check. And, last but not least, keys and purse: check. I’m rushing out to join the other members of mobile society. According to e-Learning Guild, 82.7% of employees are increasingly mobile, owning at least one mobile device. No doubt, the trend will grow, as technology continues to provide more portable devices with advanced features at affordable prices.

Evidence of this can be seen in the tablet market (the fastest-growing segment of the mobile revolution). 2010 alone brought Apple’s iPad2, Motorola’s Xoom, Samsung’s Galaxy, Blackberry’s Playbook and Dell’s Streak. Soon they will be joined by HP’s Touchpad, LG’s GSlate and Toshiba’s tablet.  Smartphones are so plentiful, it seems as if there’s a new one being introduced every week: according to a Comscore survey, 60.7 million Americans will own a Smartphone by end of October 2010, and 50% of new phone sales in 2011 will be a Smartphone. Projections for tablet sales in theUSalone will grow 26% (4.4 million units).  Just when you thought Apple couldn’t do much more to their iPod touch (MP3 device), the latest version offers high-definition viewing. 

All of this is excellent news for the future of e-learning: while the concept of mobile learning is not new, the possibilities for learning are teeming. The table below lists the functional capabilities of each portable device.

Portable Devices

Functional Component

MP3

MP3 Video

Laptop*

Tablet

Smartphone

e-Reader

Audio

X

X

X

X

X

X

Video

X

X

X

X

Navigation

X

X

X

X

Web Access

X

X

X

X

X

Collaboration

X

X

X

Wi-Fi

X

X

X

X

X

Although these portable devices enable us to take our learning on the go, simply moving learning content to a mobile device doesn’t guarantee the same learning experience.  Care must be given to ensure that learning via a mobile device truly enables retention.  Existing material can and should be modified to take advantage of the mobile devices’ functional components. e-learning courses are a natural fit, needing fewer modifications and formatting for mobile learning. Consider each device and its design independently:

  • Screen sizes vary: MP3 players, laptops (including mini laptops), tablets and e-Readers all have unique visual displays.
  • Course navigation capability: laptops and tablets offer a full range of navigation, with modified ranges available on Smartphones and limited ranges (download, read, and listen) with MP3 players and e-Readers. Laptops use mouse clicks, versus tablets which navigate through finger tapping or swiping.
  • Web Access: consider file sizes, opting for smaller, more condensed files for quicker downloads. This is especially important for Wi-Fi users with a data plan.
  • Video: understand devices’ abilities to play Flash, Quick Time, HTML5 and other file types.

Given the advances in technology, more and more organizations are giving serious consideration to adding mobile learning to their course catalogs. e-learning Guild reports that 50% of their members who responded to their mobile learning survey are researching or currently working on a project for mobile learning.

Questions to consider for implementing mobile learning for your organization:

How would the organization benefit from adding mobile learning to our learning catalog?

  1. What risks are associated with adding mobile learning? Do the costs outweigh the benefits?
  2. How will employees react or respond to this new method of learning?
  3. How many employees would be eligible to participate?
  4. What are your thoughts for implementation and roll out to the organization?

These questions are just the tip of the iceberg.  There’s a lot more that goes into implementing a new learning strategy; the question is how quickly your organization will jump onboard. One thing is for certain: mobile learning will continue to grow. As for me, I’ll be taking my learning to go!

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2 comments

  • Hi Jeff:

    What’s the name of the book? Can you add a link to your review?

    Kathy

  • I am currently reviewing a book on mobile learning and I’m fascinated by the possibilities. For me, the theories behind this avenue for learning are grand and exciting, but I wrestle with the logistics. How do we implement the use of mobile devices for learning? I also work in an culture where cell phone usage is prohibited on the production floor of the call center. That prohibition includes other devices such as Kindles, iPads, etc. So, in my current role, the movement toward this type of learning would require a culture shift of seismic proportions. My potential learners are tech-savvy and tied to their mobile devices. My company is not.

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