Random thoughts about M-Learning

I’ve been debating on whether or not I wanted to get involved with the latest phase of elearning – appropriately referred to as “M-learning” or Mobile Learning. I’m still a bit on the sidelines because I don’t think the field has developed enough to effect change in the way we currently design our training. Maybe because I don’t own an android, so the whole app craze is missing me right now. As much as I obsess over technology, the mobile arena doesn’t pique my interest as much. Nevertheless, you have to respond to the need, and if mLearning is the direction in which we are moving, I’ll have to start developing for it. We’ve already added mobile access to the wish list for one of my initiatives at work, so I’m browsing the information available right now.

What I’m seeing are mostly apps that are rooted in the educational field, apps that serve the college student population by providing mobile access to tools and resources on campus. I haven’t seen the integration of Blackboard with either an Android or a Blackberry, but I can’t imagine the displays being sufficient enough to make the experience satisfactory. Many of the other classrooms are more text-based, linear, or use a tree structure, so that might work well in a small viewer, but I would become overwhelmed by all of the scrolling!

I sound a bit skeptical now, and if I revisit my opinions back when I first started developing web-based modules, I was probably just as skeptical! But now we’re moving from the computer – where most of my audience is very comfortable – to a cell phone, where your screen is smaller and you have virtually zero workspace. (sigh)

On the bright side, I’m experimenting with Google AppInventor to build apps for the Android phones, but of course I’m more interested in building apps to serve the eLearning community. One thing I did have in mind is that mini-lessons would be convenient to have in a mobile format so that you could study them any time or place. Riding in a car, stuck at the airport, during lunch break, just run through the lesson or seminar to prepare for an interview or a test.

Some of the new tablet style devices would work really well with the mLearning applications. The Blackberry Playbook might cause me to change my mind about mLearning and get onboard, but still, you’re going to have carry a tablet AND a cellphone, and I thought we wanted LESS clutter? The $500 price point is intriguing, so I have to ask what’s the appeal of having this instead of a laptop? Is it the smaller footprint? Speed? Features? One piece?

It’s certainly sexy enough….