Mobile – Exciting, teasing, tantalising and frustrating!

The social media revolution has created a world which expects and even demands 24/7 online communication and the sharing of experience, opinion and emotion. The social learning gurus tell us that learning is part of every aspect of our lives. We need to be able to access information necessary for the performance of our jobs, wherever we are and whenever we need it. So is the answer mobile? As after all, the majority of the human race owns some kind of mobile device, therefore it is only a matter of converting all our learning platforms, media and content to mobile and we have cracked it! Right? Not so, we all shout!  But why?

Well, for starters, the size of the screen on mobile devices makes them unsuitable for looking at complex diagrams for example (but surely doesn’t tablet and zoom technology overcome this?). Then there are several mobile operating systems that make content delivery a complex issue. Devices are hugely diverse in functionality. Data is expensive. Organisations are divided on policy about social media, internet access, information security, the supply or otherwise of devices, data payment support … and so the list goes on. All of these put a seemingly endless series of barriers in the way of pulling the workplace into line with the social world, within which they both exist and interact.

However, having recognised a trend, the vendors are now falling over themselves (particularly since the arrival of HTML5) to tell an ever eager and equally gullible customer base that mobile is the way forward, and that more traditional computer-based forms of eLearning are dead. Consequently, a whole new range of stand-alone solutions are appearing almost on a weekly basis.

And then there is the contentious issue of using mobile learning with a LMS. This is currently being challenged by many because of the need for a completely different technology-enabling interface. If this is not sorted out then a complete mockery of scheduling, recording and assurance will result. In addition to which the cries will go up saying that mobile learning is all too expensive, painful and cumbersome, and that installation, whilst being hailed as being easy to do, is fraught with problems.

What is a mobile device anyway – phone, smart phone, tablet, net book, laptop? Clark Quinn argues that only phones and tablets are truly mobile – is this a contentious remark in a world where the tablet does not yet (quite) rule?

So where do we go with mobile? What is its current status? What is the reality of the dream of being able to learn from a device in our pockets and that is at our finger tips? What needs to happen to bring it to reality and to optimise its undoubted potential?

Do we yet have examples of successful mobile learning use? What learning is emerging? How much are we aware of the work going on to develop and deliver really creative learning solutions, particularly in areas of the world where there is only the humble mobile phone, with no corporate support and probably intermittent connectivity?

Let’s discuss these issues in #chat2lrn on Thursday 11 October at 16.00 BST/11.00 EDT/08.00 PDT

For further reading in preparation, try these two resources:

Designing Content for Multiple Mobile Devices:  http://bit.ly/Ras911

Barriers to Implementing Mobile Learning: http://bit.ly/Rasm4m

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